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Biden warns states with low immunization rates may see cases rise again

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and the vaccination program in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC on May 17, 2021.

Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden warned Monday that coronavirus case numbers could rise once again in U.S. states with low Covid-19 vaccination rates.

For the first time since the pandemic began over a year ago, Covid-19 cases are down in all 50 states, Biden announced during a White House press conference on the nation’s progress fighting the virus. That progress could still be reversed, he said, especially in states where a low percentage of people have been vaccinated.

“We know there will be advances and setbacks and we know that there are many flare-ups that could occur,” Biden said. “But if the unvaccinated get vaccinated, they will protect themselves and other unvaccinated people around them.”

He said it would be a needless “tragedy” to see Covid cases rise among those who do not get vaccinated.

“I want to thank the American people who have stepped up and done their patriotic duty and gotten vaccinated,” he said.

Biden’s comments Monday were just his latest push to get Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible.

The Biden administration is pushing to get 70% of U.S. adults to receive at least one dose of a Covid vaccine and have 160 million adults fully vaccinated by July 4, a date Biden has said he hopes will mark a turning point in the pandemic.

As of Monday, more than 154 million American adults, or 59.7% of U.S. adults, have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 121 million American adults, or 47.1% of U.S. adults, are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

States with the highest number of doses administered per 100,000 people include New Hampshire, New Mexico, Maine, Connecticut and Massachusetts, according to the CDC data.

Biden said getting a Covid vaccine is “easy as ever,” with many vaccination sites across the U.S. offering walk-ins.

On Thursday, the CDC announced in updated public health guidance that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face mask or stay 6 feet away from others in most settings, whether outdoors or indoors. Many public health experts saw the move as another incentive from the administration to get vaccinated.

Earlier Monday, the White House announced that the U.S. plans to send millions of additional Covid vaccine doses to foreign countries still being battered by the pandemic.

At least 20 million doses of vaccines produced by PfizerBioNTechModerna and Johnson & Johnson will be shipped by the end of June, the White House said. That’s on top of 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine that are also scheduled to ship by then, pending regulatory authorization in the U.S.

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