President Biden urged Americans to remain vigilant on the coronavirus on Thursday, rallying states and private businesses to support vaccine mandates to avoid a spike in cases.
“We are moving in the right direction. We have important work to do and we cannot give up now, ”Mr. Biden said in a speech at the White House. “I urge more businesses to step up. I encourage more parents to vaccinate their children when they are eligible. ”
Mr Biden expressed optimism as the number of new cases declined compared to the devastating summer wave that undermined the president’s efforts to overcome the pandemic and limit the damage it caused to the economy and schools.
The United States currently has about 90,000 new infections per day, more than 40 percent less than in August. The number of hospitalizations and deaths is also falling. Nearly 70 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, and many children under the age of 12 are likely to be eligible for vaccinations within a few weeks.
But the president also used the moment to warn that the pandemic was not over yet, in an attempt to avoid the mistake he made last July when he celebrated “independence from the virus” on July 4. About 2,000 Americans still die every day as the country approaches winter.
Mr Biden, noting that parts of the country are still recovering from the effects of the virus, sought to encourage governments and private businesses to comply with vaccine requirements that have been targeted by Republicans.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, issued an executive order earlier this week banning virtually any coronavirus vaccination in the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, has threatened to impose fines on communities that require government officials to be vaccinated, complicating the administration’s efforts to contain the pandemic.
Earlier this week, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki accused Republican governors of “putting politics over public health.”
But Mr. Biden continued to push for big employers to accept mandates. Earlier this week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration presented the initial text of its interim emergency standard to the Office of Management and Budget. It must go through what is likely a week-long multi-agency review process before it is issued to companies, and some companies have said they are waiting for leadership before fulfilling mandates.