WASHINGTON – The United States is “turning the corner” in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, a key White House official said Sunday.
Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told CNN that the U.S. has “enough supply [of vaccines] for all Americans,” even as the number of new daily vaccinations has dropped to 2.1 million, down 40% from last month’s peak pace.
He said that 58% of those 18 and older in the U.S. — nearly 149 million people — have now received at least one shot, a figure President Joe Biden says he hopes will reach 70% by July 4, the country’s annual Independence Day holiday.
Zients said the country is “on the path” to becoming “safer and safer and closer and closer to normal.” But he acknowledged that “everyone is tired” of restrictions imposed because of the pandemic and said, “Wearing a mask can be a pain.”
He urged Americans to get vaccinated if they have not, as well as to “keep up our guard” and wear a face mask in crowded groups. “Let’s stay vigilant,” he said.
Zients said that regardless of whether the U.S. reaches the 70% vaccination figure by July 4, the nation will continue to vaccinate as many people as possible afterward and that if booster shots “are necessary [a half year or more from now], we’ll be ready.”
In all, 112.6 million Americans are fully vaccinated, most often with the two-shot regimen developed by either the Moderna or Pfizer BioNTech drug makers. But polls show that about 20% of Americans — often supporters of former President Donald Trump — say they will not get vaccinated, making it more difficult for the country to increase its overall rate.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and the country’s top infectious disease expert, told ABC’s “This Week” show that one key factor in increasing the number of inoculations is to “make it extremely easy to get vaccinated,” such as through the increasing number of no-appointment, walk-in vaccination sites at pharmacies.
He said the country also needs to get “trusted messengers,” such as family doctors, clergy and sports figures, to spread the word of the need to be vaccinated.
Currently, he said, about 43,000 new U.S coronavirus cases are being recorded each day.
“We’ve got to get it to even lower,” Fauci said.
Since the pandemic first swept into the U.S. in March 2020, the nation has recorded more than 581,000 deaths and nearly 32.7 million infections, with both figures more than in any other country, according to the Johns Hopkins University.