Biden says U.S. closer to declaring “independence” from virus

Jul 06 , 2021. 22 hours ago – 12:11 KYODO NEWS

Visitors flood to the National Mall to watch the fireworks display during Independence Day celebrations on July 4, 2021, in Washington. (Getty/Kyodo)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Sunday said the United States is getting closer to overcoming the coronavirus pandemic as the country marked Independence Day, although vaccinations fell just short of a goal set by his administration.

“Today, we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus,” Biden said in a speech at the White House to first responders, military members and other guests.

But he added, “That’s not to say the battle against COVID-19 is over,” warning of more contagious variants that are emerging.

The Biden administration has been ramping up vaccination efforts across the country, aiming to have 70 percent of adults inoculated with at least one shot by Sunday. The figure stood at around 67 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Daily cases and deaths have both dropped sharply from peak levels marked in January, when Biden took office. But still more than 200 people die each day from the virus and less than half of the total population has been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

In the United States, a total of more than 33 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with more than 605,000 deaths have been reported, both figures higher than in any other country in the world, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

U.S. health authorities have said people who have been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus basically no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance. Crowds of people, wearing no masks, were seen gathering in the U.S. capital to watch the fireworks celebrating Independence Day.