U.S. reaches Biden’s 70% vaccination goal a month late

Photo (c) Malte Mueller - Getty Images

The administration is focused on getting vaccination numbers higher

President Biden's goal of getting 70% of American adults at least partially vaccinated was reached Monday, a month after Biden originally set out to achieve the milestone. The announcement was made on Twitter by Cyrus Shahpar, the COVID-19 data director for the Biden administration. 

The White House reportedly did little to celebrate the milestone. Instead, the administration focused on pushing vaccination numbers higher to combat the threat of the Delta variant. 

“Let’s continue working to get more eligible vaccinated!” Mr. Shahpar wrote on Twitter. 

The Delta variant is currently driving a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country. The situation has gotten to the point where several national retailers, along with one state and several counties, have reversed their guidance on masks. 

Case counts climbing

The president had hoped that, by July 4, the nation’s vaccination numbers would be high enough that the U.S. could mark “independence” from COVID-19. But by the time July 4 rolled around, fewer than half of U.S. states had achieved the 70% milestone.

Health officials have struck a more urgent tone lately regarding vaccination rates as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to fill hospital beds. 

The U.S. still hasn’t reached the government’s other goal of getting 165 million adults fully vaccinated. According to CDC data, 156.5 American adults have been fully inoculated. Meanwhile, new cases per day have increased to an average of nearly 80,000 -- their highest level in nearly three months. 

Reversing mask guidance

A week after the CDC said that fully vaccinated people should wear a mask when indoors in areas of “substantial” or “high” virus transmission, the state of Louisiana and several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area adopted rules requiring people to wear masks in public indoor spaces. 

Louisiana became the first state to reimpose a statewide mask mandate. Governor John Bel Edwards cited the need to avoid overburdening hospitals and protect public health.

“It has never been more clear that we are in an unchecked COVID surge that, in addition to threatening the health and wellbeing of many Louisianans, also threatens the capacity of our hospitals and medical facilities to deliver care to their patients,” Edwards said in a statement. “That is simply unacceptable.”

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