In his first address to the nation as president of the United States, in March, Joe Biden promised that the July 4 holiday would mark the country’s return to normality thanks to the covid-19 vaccination. The day arrived without the White House reaching the target of vaccinating 70% of adults. But the weekly average of daily deaths has dropped 93.6% since inauguration – from 3,366, they dropped to just 214.
With nearly 50% of the population fully immunized, Biden is today commemorating the pandemic’s retreat with celebrations across the country. Health officials keep warning messages and appeals to Americans to get vaccinated.
Last year, Independence Day parades were canceled to avoid crowding. Now events across the country featuring Biden and First Lady Jill and Vice President Kamala Harris send a message to the world that the US is ready for an unrestricted summer. Americans already walk around without masks, travel and attend big music festivals and crowded sports arenas.
“Deaths have dropped by more than 90 percent since January 20,” said White House pandemic-fighting coordinator Jeff Zients this week. “This weekend, millions of Americans will be able to celebrate together, not just with families and close friends at small backyard barbecues, but with their community for major festivals, parades and fireworks celebrating our country’s Independence Day and progress that we did together against the virus,” said Zients.
The US arrives on this holiday with 181.6 million people vaccinated, equivalent to two out of three adults. In global comparison, the country is among the few that vaccinated more than half of its residents. But the numbers frustrate US government officials, who have enough doses to vaccinate three times the total population and hoped to be closer to a safe level of mass immunization by now.
Although far from the worst moments of the pandemic, the US is witnessing an increase in contagion, associated with the greater circulation of the Delta variant and the stagnation in the numbers of those vaccinated.
Biden has set a goal of vaccinating at least 70% of adults with at least one dose to date, but has reached 66.8% of those over 18 years of age. Considering the total population, the USA has 54.7% of those vaccinated with at least one dose and 47.1% with full immunization.
In early April, when doses became available to vaccinate virtually every American who wanted to, the country lived for days with more than 3 million new vaccinated. But demand began to fall, even with the facilities for immunization. About 1,000 US counties have vaccination coverage below 30%, most of them in the Midwest and Southeast of the country.
Resistance among Republican voters – especially from rural areas – has been a challenge to the success of the vaccination campaign. According to Estadão, based on reports collected at a rally by former President Donald Trump, getting vaccinated is a source of shame among Republican voters.
A survey by Harvard researchers in constituencies shows that 38 of the 39 districts with more than 60% of the population vaccinated elected Democrats to Congress. Republican districts represent 29 of the 30 districts that have about 30% vaccinated.
The number of deaths and hospitalizations has consistently dropped, but the weekly average of covid cases grew 9.1% in the last week, to 12,600 new infections diagnosed per day. In January, the country registered 252 thousand new cases per day. The overwhelming majority of deaths in the last six months (99.5%) are unvaccinated.