The White House touted progress in vaccinations in recent days, noting that over the past 24 hours, the US recorded more than 864,000 vaccinations, the highest daily rate since July 3, and praised momentum for vaccine mandates Thursday, days after President Joe Biden issued a vaccine requirement for all federal workers and contractors.
“Already, we’re seeing momentum in vaccination requirements across the country, businesses know vaccinations are a way to keep their workers and customers safe and to keep their doors open,” White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said as he kicked off a rare second White House Covid-19 response team briefing of the week, an effort to hone messaging after a confusing stretch of days.
The efforts to get more Americans vaccinated more quickly are becoming more urgent as the Delta variant, which now accounts for an estimated 93.4% of Covid-19 cases in the US, per data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, continues to spread, and cases continue to rise nationwide. Hospitalizations and deaths are also are also likely to increase over the next four weeks, according to a CDC ensemble forecast.
Zients applauded businesses big and small – including Saffron, a small business in New Orleans requiring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test; 650 colleges and universities requiring on-campus employee and student vaccination; a mandate from historically Black medical schools; and a mandate for health care workers at Kaiser Permanente. He also highlighted a new feature in the Yelp app that lets customers search for businesses with fully vaccinated workers or requires proof of vaccination to enter the business.
“Our message is quite simple: We support these vaccination requirements to protect workers, communities and the country,” Zients said.
“Clearly, Americans are seeing the impact of being unvaccinated and unprotected. And they’re responded by doing their part, rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated,” Zients said.
In the states with the highest case rates – Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Mississippi – people are getting vaccinated at “a pace not seen since April,” he said, adding that Tennessee has seen a 90% increase in first shots over the past two weeks, Oklahoma has seen an 82% increase, and Georgia has seen a 66% increase in first shots over the past two weeks.
Zients also told reporters that the Biden administration’s Covid-19 surge response teams are now working with 16 states on specific needs, with “hundreds” of federal personnel deployed to help throughout the country, including support for testing, mobile vaccination clinics, and helping address hospital capacity issues.