For months, President Joe Biden has laid out goal after goal for taming the coronavirus pandemic and then exceeded his own benchmarks. Now, though, the U.S. is on pace to fall short of his aim to have 70 percent of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4.
The White House has launched a month-long blitz to combat vaccine hesitancy and a lack of urgency to get shots, particularly in the South and Midwest. But it is increasingly resigned to missing the president’s vaccination target.
As of Monday, about 51.7% of Americans had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The administration insists that even if the goal isn’t reached, it will have little effect on the overall U.S. recovery from the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday that he still hopes the goal will be met “and if we don’t, we’re going to continue to keep pushing.”
So far 14 states have reached 70% coverage among adults, with about a dozen more on pace to reach the milestone by July 4. But the state-to-state variation is stark.
Fauci said the administration is “pleading” with states, particularly those with low vaccination rates, to step up their efforts in the coming months, though some of the states trailing behind are hardly sharing the urgency.