Biden has clear words for Republican governors on vaccines: ‘Get out of the way’

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WASHINGTON – President Biden on Tuesday signaled a new level of frustration with Republican leaders in states where the highly contagious Delta variant is in full swing, telling the governors of Texas and Florida to help fight the pandemic or to “Get out of the way”.

While praising the leaders of other states for offering money and other incentives to entice reluctant Americans to get vaccinated, Mr Biden slammed Florida and Texas, where cases have risen sharply. increase. As cases escalate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed an executive order allowing children to attend school without a mask, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott has banned mask and vaccination warrants.

“I say to these governors, please help yourself,” Mr. Biden said. “If you’re not going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.

Mr Biden and his senior advisers have been under pressure in recent days to clarify what is at stake for unvaccinated Americans as the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the United States. Recent public health reversals from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have left some Americans struggling to navigate the changing guidelines on mask use and heated debates over whether workers are required to receive the vaccine.

In his speech, Mr Biden stressed that those sickest with the Delta variant are not vaccinated and that his administration is working to make vaccines available to everyone who needs them. Fully vaccinated people are well protected against the worst consequences of Covid-19 caused by the Delta variant.

“I know there is a lot of misinformation out there, so here are the facts,” Biden said. “If you are vaccinated, it is very unlikely that you will catch Covid-19. And even if you do, there’s a good chance you won’t have any symptoms. And if you do, they will most likely be very soft. Vaccinated people are hardly ever hospitalized with Covid-19. “

The White House has also struggled to put into context the threat of the Delta variant to those who are vaccinated. Experts say infections in people vaccinated – so-called breakthrough infections – are still relatively rare, and even then, vaccines appear to protect against serious illness and death.

Mr Biden has suggested his race to encourage Americans to get vaccinated is facing conflicting guidelines in states like Florida and Texas.

“I think the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents,” Biden said when asked if the governors of those states are harming their citizens. “And it’s clear to me and most medical experts that decisions made, like not to allow mask warrants in schools and the like, are bad health policy. “

Mr Biden reiterated his previous announcement that federal workers must be vaccinated or put on strict requirements.

“If you want to do business with the federal government,” he said, “get your workers vaccinated. “

He added that the private sector, including companies like Walmart, Google and Tyson Foods, were taking similar steps.

“Even Fox has vaccination requirements,” Mr. Biden said.

The president also had positive news to share: he said that over the past two weeks, the eight states with the highest case rates had doubled the number of people vaccinated each day, and vaccination rates were increasing. across the country after dropping earlier in Summer. An average of 369,809 people per day received their first dose of vaccine in the past week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nationally, new cases averaged about 86,000 per day on Monday, a significant jump from about 13,000 daily cases a month ago, but still far fewer than in January. Hospitalizations have also increased, but hospitalizations and deaths remain a small fraction of their devastating winter peaks.

Mr Biden also announced on Tuesday that the United States has donated more than 110 million doses of vaccine globally, a down payment on his pledge to send half a billion doses of vaccine. to the poorest countries over the next year.

Mr Biden, who has been pressured for months to share vaccine doses, is now seeking to position his administration as a global immunization leader in the rest of the world amid the spread of highly contagious variants of the virus.

“The virus knows no borders,” Mr. Biden said. “You can’t build a wall high enough to keep it out.”

Mr Biden’s pledge to donate 500 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech is by far the largest from a single country, but it would only fully inoculate about 3% of the world’s population. The United States will pay $ 3.5 billion for Pfizer-BioNTech shots, around $ 7 apiece, which Pfizer has described as a “non-profit” price – far less than the $ 20 it paid. for home use.

In a fact sheet released on Tuesday, the administration said it would work with programs focused on equitable distribution of vaccines, including Covax, to ensure doses reach countries that need them most. .

But health officials in countries that have received some of the doses have warned that additional funding is needed to train people to administer the vaccines and power the vehicles that transport the vaccines to clinics in remote areas.


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