President Joe Biden spoke on what he calls the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” today as the US experiences a COVID-19 surge, with Florida leading the nation in new cases.
Biden highlighted the disparity in cases between states with low and high vaccination rates, citing Vermont as the most vaccinated state in America with minimal new cases each day.
Meanwhile, Florida is now leading the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19. Despite those high rates, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning schools from issuing mask mandates when students return in the fall.
Florida and Texas currently account for one third of all new COVID-19 cases in the country. Biden said the nation must come together to battle that escalation even as those governors combat vaccine and mask requirements.
“I say to these governors, please help,” said Biden, “if you’re not going to help, at least get out of the way when people are trying to do the right thing.”
Seven states have currently banned businesses and universities from requiring workers and students to be masked or vaccinated. Texas has some of the most extreme measures, where teachers could be fined for asking unvaccinated students to wear a mask in universities and community colleges.
Biden said of the Florida and Texas governors, “I believe the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents.”
He went on to say that it’s clear to him and medical experts that banning mask mandates are “bad health policy”.
Outside of those states, many state and local governments have moved to impose vaccination mandates in the private sector. The move comes after the Biden administration mandated employees to report their vaccination status and face restrictions if not vaccinated.
The administration has been clear that they do not view a nationwide vaccine mandate as part of the federal government’s jurisdiction, but do welcome local and private sector mandates. Biden continued to urge Americans to make the choice to get vaccinated.
He drew attention to the unvaccinated people in hospitals, struck hard with COVID-19 and told others to not make their mistake. Biden said they would echo “If I just got vaccinated”.
Even with those stories, Biden spoke positively about the progress with vaccines in the US. First, he highlighted the effectiveness of the vaccine even with the threat of the Delta variant.
Biden announced that 165 million Americans are fully vaccinated, including 80% of the senior population. 70% of adults over the age of 18 have received at least one vaccine dose.
These numbers have left 95% of the overall COVID-19 populations among those who are unvaccinated, where Biden said cases spread like “wildfire”. The President pleaded to those resisting the vaccine.
“This isn’t about politics. The virus doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, this is about life and death,” said Biden.
He stressed that the vaccine has been made free and accessible, and pointed out that in the last seven days alone three million Americans have gotten their first shot. In the eight states with the highest COVID-19 cases, the number of newly vaccinated people has doubled each day.
While Biden said there’s work to be done, he stated the US government is a global leader in fighting the pandemic.
“Vaccinate America, and help vaccinate the world,” said Biden.
The Biden administration has also made moves on the recently lapsed eviction moratorium that puts millions at risk of eviction. While the White House has recently said they had no “legal authority” to reimplement the moratorium, the CDC has an updated plan of action.
Biden said he sought out constitutional scholars to determine the possibility of a new moratorium, but only found a few possible avenues to constitutionally pursue.
The CDC is now expected to announce a partial eviction moratorium that will target areas with high rates of COVID-19.
“My hope is it’s going to be a new moratorium, that in some way — and I’m not going to announce it now, I’ll let them announce it,” said Biden “in some way covers close to 90 percent of the American people or renters.”