White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden’s aspiration for Americans to have Fourth of July celebrations is not calling for a “mass event” or “return to total normalcy.”
Psaki wouldn’t say if that was the date by which the White House thought most Americans would be vaccinated for coronavirus. “It really depends on a couple of factors,” Psaki said, pointing to vaccine hesitancy, and how quickly states can administer the jab.
The White House has directed states to make all Americans eligible for the vaccine by May 1 and said the U.S. will have enough doses for every American by the end of May. On Thursday night, Biden gave an address where he sounded hopeful that Americans could have social gatherings by Independence Day.
About 10 percent of the country is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“Again, this is not large gatherings … it is having a small group of friends and neighbors in your backyard. It’s certainly not a full return to concerts and soccer stadiums, but it is a baby step toward that and our team felt confident we could get to that point,” said the press secretary.
The new directive comes as part of a broader strategy that included increasing the number of vaccine sites and active-duty troops supporting the vaccination campaign. The White House is also rolling out a new website and 1-800 number to assist with finding vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday released highly anticipated guidance on practices considered safe for those who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, as it relates to gatherings, quarantine and testing.
The CDC said that those who are fully vaccinated can spend time with unvaccinated people indoors, with no mask, so long as those who are unvaccinated are at low-risk for severe COVID-19.
Two weeks after their second dose, or the single-dose jab for those receiving a vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, fully vaccinated persons can safely gather inside with other fully vaccinated people without wearing face masks or physical distancing, the CDC said, calling these indoor gatherings “likely low risk.”
Some Republicans weren’t happy with the president’s July 4th goal. “If every willing person in America is vaccinated for #COVID19 by May, as POTUS has said, why put our lives on hold till July the 4th?” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote on Twitter.
“If you’re waiting for permission from the chief executive to celebrate Independence Day with your family, you clearly don’t grasp the concept of Independence,” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., tweeted.