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Biden projects US ‘independence’ from COVID-19 soon

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PRESIDENT Joe Biden is prepared to throw a huge Independence Day party to hail America’s defeat of COVID-19, amid lingering concern that pockets of the country with low vaccination rates remain in the grip of the pandemic.

  The President and First Lady Jill Biden would welcome 1,000 military personnel and their families, plus essential workers, for the largest event at the White House since he took office.

  A fireworks display that traditionally draws thousands to the National Mall echoed by similar events across the country would allow the president to mark what he is calling “independence from this virus.”

  One of the White House officials said in a statement that the president would celebrate progress against the virus but note that the job is “far from over.”

  The official stated, “He will urge every American to join the fight to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated and reiterate his administration’s redoubled efforts to boost vaccinations”.

  During last year’s holiday, with the pandemic near its summer peak and towns across America reeling from protests over racism and police brutality, Washington saw a fraction of the visitors it usually welcomes.

  After leading the world in coronavirus deaths, however, more than 600,000, the United States has emerged as a model for getting the coronavirus under control.

  With hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19 down 90 percent since January and the country largely reopened, the message from the South Lawn would also be unmistakable.

  In his contribution, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Jeff Zients, also told journalists, “we do have a lot to celebrate. We are much further along than I think anyone anticipated in this fight against the pandemic”.

  “Jubilation will be tempered by the White House falling just short of its much-promoted vaccination goal of getting seven in 10 adults their first shot by Independence Day,” he added.

  Meanwhile, opponents of the White House event have voiced concern that images of nationwide partying could send the wrong message, with only 46 per cent of Americans fully inoculated, and areas with low vaccination take-up awash with the highly contagious Delta variant.

  Public health officials have highlighted swaths of rural America where hospitals are starting to fill up again, especially in Utah, Missouri, Arkansas and Wyoming.

  Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, told the media that unvaccinated people now account for 99.2 per cent of COVID-19 deaths.

  The celebration would be an opportunity for Biden to talk up the country’s economic outlook as he walks a tightrope on his legislative priorities going into the summer.

  Negotiations continue on a bipartisan infrastructure deal and fractious debate within his Democratic Party looms on a much broader spending package that has no support from Republicans.

  The president visited a cherry farm in Michigan on Saturday to tout a positive June employment report hailed as a sign of America’s economic resurgence.

  Nevertheless, his administration has sent cabinet secretaries and other officials to sports events, cookouts and festivals nationwide as part of its “America’s Back Together” celebration.

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