THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July weekend.
As I said in my Independence Day address to the nation, we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from this deadly virus.
Today, after receiving a briefing from my entire COVID-19 team, I’m proud to announce that we’re getting even closer, because of our wartime effort, to administer thr- — to administer 300 million shots in arms in just 150 days.
More than 182 million Americans have received at least one shot, including nearly 90 percent of seniors and 70 percent of adults over the age of 27.
By the end of this week, we’ll have reached the mark of 160 million fully vaccinated Americans. And that’s a goal I set in March that I’m thrilled we’re going to hit just a few days after July the Fourth.
So, we will have 160 million fully vaccinated Americans — up from roughly 3 million when we took office five months ago.
We see why it matters. COVID-19 cases and deaths are down by 90 percent since January. Millions of fully vaccinated Americans are getting back to — they’re living their lives as they did before. Businesses are reopening and hiring and rehiring. And projected economic growth is the highest it’s been — projected growth is the highest it’s been in four decades.
And the bottom line is: The virus is on the run, and America is coming back. We’re coming back together.
This is one of the greatest achievements in American history, and you, the American people, made it happen.
But our fight against this virus is not over. Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected. And because of that, their communities are at risk. Their friends are at risk. The people they care about are at risk. This is an even bigger concern because of the Delta variant.
In today’s briefing, we discussed how the Delta variant is already responsible for half of all cases in many parts of this country. It’s more easily transmissible, potentially more dangerous. And it should be — because of reconsideration and —
Look, let me put it another way: It seems to me that it should cause everybody to think twice. And it should cause reconsideration, especially in young people who may have thought that they didn’t have to be vaccinated, didn’t have to worry about it, didn’t have to do anything about it up to now.
But the good news is that our vaccinations are highly effective. Fully vaccinated Americans have a high degree of protection, including against this Delta variant.
Study after study after study has shown that, since early May, virtually every COVID-19 hospitalization and death in the United States has been among the unvaccinated.
So, if you’re vaccinated, you’re protected. But if you’re unvaccinated, you’re not, and you’re putting yourself and more importantly maybe, from your perspective, your family and your friends at risk.
So, please get vaccinated now. It works. It’s free. And it’s never been easier, and it’s never been more important. Do it now — for yourself and the people you care about; for your neighborhood; for your country. It sounds corny, but it’s a patriotic thing to do.
In today’s briefing, we discussed how our administration is going to devote the remainder of the summer to a special focus on five ways to make gains in getting those of you who are unvaccinated, vaccinated.
Because here’s the deal: We are continuing to wind down the mass vaccination sites that did so much in the spring to rapidly vaccinate those eager to get their first shot — and their second shot, for that matter, if they needed a second.
Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.
Look, equity, equality — it remains at the heart of our responsibility of ensuring that communities that are the hardest hit by the virus have the information and the access to get vaccinated.
So, as we shift from these centralized mass — mass vaccination sites, where we were doing thousands of people a day, we’re going to put even more emphasis on getting vaccinated in your community, close to home, conveniently at a location you’re already familiar with.
First — first thing we’re going to do: This includes 42,000 local pharmacies where folks with questions can talk to the pharmacist they know and already have done — dealt with. These locations overwhelmingly allow you to walk in without an appointment, get the vaccination when you’re picking up your prescription or just going in to get toothpaste or something else you need from a drug store.
Second, my team is going to place renewed emphasis on getting the vaccines to more and more family doctors and healthcare providers so more Americans can get this shot at their doctor’s office from the folks that they know and they trust the most.
Third thing we’re going to do: We’re going to step up efforts to get vaccines to your family doctors and other doctors who serve younger people so that adolescents ages 12 to 18 can get vaccinated and — as they go for back-to-school check-ups or getting ready for their physicals they need for fall sports.
Fourth, we’re also intensifying our efforts to meet people where they are, outside of their neighborhoods — pharmacies and doctor’s offices. This includes continuing to work with employers to make vaccination shots available at work — on the work site, if possible — or — and/or give their employees paid time off to get vaccinated at a nearby facility.
And fifth and finally, we’re sending out more mobile clinic — more mobile clinic units out there to help people at special events, summer festivals, sporting events, as well as places of worship, wherever we can find people gathered.
In addition to these initiatives to continue to vaccinate the unvaccinated, we’re stepping up our preparations to respond to the outbreaks we’re going to see among the unvaccinated. For that, we’re mobilizing what I’m calling “COVID-19 Surge Response teams.” These teams are made up of experts from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and elsewhere across our government — other groups. And they’re going to help states that have particular problems prevent, detect, and respond to the spread of the Delta variant among unvaccinated people in communities with low vaccination rates. And some states have very low vaccination rates.
They’re going to be able to do — we’re going to deploy things like testing to expand detection of the virus, medicines to help treat the infected, and we’re going to provide federal personnel to fill gaps in staffing, and technical experts to help investigate outbreaks — because they’re going to happen in states with very low vaccination rates.
The bottom line is: My administration is doing everything it can to lead a whole-of-government response at the federal, state, and local levels to defeat the pandemic.
But we need everyone to do their part. Millions of Americans have already done that. We have to keep it up though. We have to keep it up until we’re finished.
Let me close with this: We are emerging from one of the darkest years in our nation’s history into a summer of hope and joy, hopefully. Think about where you were — where you were last year, where you are today; what you were able to do last year at this time and do today. It’s a year of hard-fought progress. We can’t get complacent now.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family and the people you care about the most is get vaccinated. The best thing a community can do to protect themselves is to increase vaccination rates.
You can do this. You can do this. Let’s finish the job — finish it together.
May God bless you all. And please, please get vaccinated. It makes a big difference. As I said, it’s a patriotic thing to do. May God protect our troops.
Q Mr. President, on the latest ransomware attack, can you tell us if you believe that rises to the level of U.S. retaliation?
THE PRESIDENT: I can tell you a couple things: I received an update from our national security team this morning. It appears to have caused minimal damage to U.S. businesses, but we’re still gathering information to the full extent of the attack. And I’m going to have more to say about this in the next several days. We’re getting more detail and information. But that’s what I can tell you now. And I feel good about our ability to be able to respond.