WASHINGTON — On the day President Biden has long predicted as a milestone in the fight against the coronavirus, the White House hosted a celebration to celebrate the Fourth of July and herald the administration’s progress toward overcoming the pandemic.
By gathering around 1,000 people at the largest planned event during Biden’s presidency,رئاسة The White House had to walk a fine lineand seeking to signal progress toward restoring normality while continuing to acknowledge the dangers of the pandemic it continues to demand Hundreds of lives a day.
The president continued that strategy on Sunday, comparing the nation’s struggle for independence to the fight against the coronavirus.
“Two hundred and forty-five years ago, we declared our independence from a distant king,” he said during the event. Today, we are closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus. This does not mean that the battle against Covid-19 is over. We have a lot of work to do.”
For months, it was The White House flew over on the Fourth of July. As a breakthrough moment in the pandemic, the point at which many restrictions can be lifted if the country achieves ambitious vaccination goals.
In the months since Mr. Biden was elected انتخاب I only offered guarded hope Small groups will be able to gather by the weekend while still following familiar safety guidelines.
But as vaccination rates rose steadily throughout the spring, so did the White House’s confidence, describing the holiday as the start of “summer of freedom” and the event on Sunday as a celebration not just of Independence Day but also of “independence from Covid.” -19. “
In addition to Biden’s speech, the celebration included a barbecue to honor attendees – a group of first responders, essential workers and service members, nearly all of whom were vaccinated and were able to go without masks according to the Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention والوقاية in May. Guests mingled in the South Lawn, enjoying pulled pork and chicken while a live band played throughout the evening.
In his remarks, the president spoke of more than 600,000 Americans who have died from the virus in the past 16 months.
“This is a difficult day for all of those who have lost loved ones,” Biden said. “Every day, I carry a card in my pocket with my schedule on it. On the back of that schedule, on that card, I have the number of Americans who have lost their lives to Covid.”
But the president addressed the present as well, pleading for unvaccinated Americans to get an injection. “It’s the most patriotic thing you can do,” he said.
Biden expressed his gratitude to the essential workers and military families whose work throughout the pandemic has helped reduce new cases and deaths by more than 90% from their peak in January. He said they “become a light to see us through the darkness.”
However, the Biden administration has had to admit in recent weeks that there are many challenges ahead, and the president has been eager to remind the public several times of the threat the pandemic continues to pose.
While the White House once targeted July 4 as the date when at least 70 percent of adults would be at least partially vaccinated, officials acknowledged last month that they would You will almost certainly miss this goal The vaccination rate has fallen from its peak in April.
While the 20 states, Washington, DC, two districts Exceeded the 70 percent mark In the past week, the country’s progress as a whole has slowed markedly, with only about a million doses now being given each week on average. On Sunday, nearly 67 percent of adults received at least one shot, According to data compiled by The New York Times.
Rapid spread of highly contagious disease delta variable It also raised concerns among public health officials, who fear new outbreaks will occur in parts of the country where vaccination rates have remained relatively low, and that the alternative could change in ways that leave even vaccinated Americans at risk.
While the ceremony at the White House offered a display of normalcy that seemed elusive at the start of Biden’s term, the occasion was marked by a sense of restraint rarely seen under the previous administration.
Even as new cases swell toward the peak of summer last year, President Donald J Trump A 35-minute fireworks display and military airlifts went ahead on the National Mall, against the wishes of Washington Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, who urged people not to attend. This year’s fireworks display will be only half its length, and Ms. Bowser, encouraged by progress in vaccines, has welcomed guests back to town.
Under Mr. Trump, the White House hosted other large gatherings long before vaccines were approved, including two ceremonies nomination And the confirmation Judge Amy Connie Barrett, as he and several other attendees are believed to have contracted the virus.
For Biden, this year’s celebrations seem designed to signal that Americans can enjoy some degree of normalcy at the meeting, even as he and public health officials continue to stress the importance of maintaining momentum on vaccines.
In the days leading up to the event, the president was eager to stress that even in the midst of a vaccination effort, the United States still records hundreds of deaths from Covid-19 every day. He urged Americans not to slacken.
“I’m not worried about the potential for a major outbreak — in other words, we’re going to have another epidemic across the country,” Biden told reporters on Friday. “But I worry that lives will be lost
But despite the recent setbacks to his administration’s goals, the president seemed ready to embrace the moment.
“Today, while the virus has not been eradicated, we know this: it no longer controls our lives, it no longer cripples our nation,” Biden told the audience on Sunday. “And we can make sure that it never happens again.”