US health officials warn against disparities in vaccinations, as 1,000 US counties have rates below 30 percent.
President Joe Biden celebrated US Independence Day with an upbeat assessment of a country he said is roaring back to post-pandemic life, even if COVID-19 has yet to be fully “vanquished”.
Speaking before a festive crowd of 1,000 guests on the White House South Lawn on Sunday, Biden drew a comparison between the declaration of independence from the British Empire in 1776 and today’s rapid recovery from the coronavirus.
“Two hundred and forty-five years ago, we declared our independence from a distant king. Today, we are closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus,” he told the crowd of invited military members and essential workers.
“We’ve gained the upper hand against this virus,” he said.
But he added: “Don’t get me wrong: COVID-19 has not been vanquished. We all know powerful variants have emerged, like the Delta variant.”
Biden paid tribute to those who have lost their lives, with the staggering number of deaths in the US now at more than 600,000.
Large crowds packed the National Mall for a huge fireworks display in yet another sign that the US is looking to its July 4th holiday as a moment to put the virus in the rear view mirror.
Despite the atmosphere of Sunday’s celebrations, the Biden administration says it is concerned about the large number of people who have still not gotten vaccinated.