Delta variant some have called the most infectious, says Karine Jean-Pierre.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

  

Biden’s Response On Cuba

Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre opened today’s press briefing with an update on the situation in Cuba. Just days ago, protestors gathered by the White House to support protestors in Cuba and fight against the long-standing US economic embargo. 

President Joe Biden has openly called Cuba a “failed regime” and communism a “failed ideology”. Jean-Pierre said Biden’s plan is to listen to Cuban Americans on the issue. 

“We have said many times that Cuban American are the best ambassadors for freedom and prosperity in Cuba,” said Jean-Pierre. 

The deputy press secretary went on to announce today’s meeting between the President and Cuban American leaders at the White House to discuss the demonstration and administration’s response. 

In addition, the administration will name Cuban American and Miami native Frank Mora to be the next US ambassador to the Organization of American States.

The administration has held out on making any changes to the economic embargo, and Jean-Pierre said they would not preview any actions on lifting travel restrictions to the island. 

On the issue of remittances, Jean-Pierre called it a “complex issue that requires coordination with experts”  and previewed no specific steps on allowing Cuban Americans to send money to family in Cuba. 

She said the Department of Treasury will form a working group to review available options. 

Delta Variant As Contagious As Chickenpox

Jean-Pierre continued the White House push for vaccines today amid concern around the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19. She stressed that “the vaccines work” against a Delta variant some have called the most infectious respiratory disease. 

An internal report for the CDC called the Delta variant “as contagious as chickenpox”, and the recent rise in infection rates has made the CDC change recommendations around masks. They now urge even vaccinated people to wear masks indoors. 

The data showed revealed an outbreak that started July 3 in Provincetown, Massachusetts that resulted in 469 cases– three-quarters of which occurred among fully-vaccinated people. The data showed that fully vaccinated people can still transmit the virus. 

Even with a rise in new cases, the vaccine has still proven effective against hospitalizations and death. The encouragement of masks has spurred many to mask up again, including all of the reporters at the press briefing today.

The CDC came under fire for its slow updates on releasing that data as COVID-19 cases have been on the rise. Jean-Pierre still assured the administration’s faith in it’s “north star”.

“The CDC’s first and foremost priority is getting the American people as quickly as possible,” said Jean-Pierre. 

The White House has consistently stated it’s view that the federal government has no role in mandating vaccines, but the administration is currently looking to enforce vaccines for federal employees. 

Jean-Pierre also noted a rise in vaccinations, a win for the administration. Today, the White House recorded over half a million new shots in arms, the highest number since the first of July. The average number of people getting their first shots each day is up 30% this week as well. 

“This is an encouraging sign,” said Jean-Pierre, “but we need everyone across the country to have a conversation with someone they know who is unvaccinated about getting the shot.”