US ‘turning the corner’ on pandemic, says top White House COVID-19 official

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With the U.S. on its way to meeting President Biden’s goal of getting millions vaccinated by the Fourth of July, the country is “turning the corner” on the pandemic, a top White House official said Sunday.

The president said earlier this month he wants 70% of American adults to get at least one shot by Independence Day and so far, about 58% of adults have been jabbed, according to the White House’s COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients.

“I would say we are turning the corner,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We’ve got a path ahead of us, which will involve getting people even easier access to the vaccine, making sure that people build their confidence.”

The vaccination effort is open-ended, he added.

“We just want more and more people to be vaccinated,” he said.

Executives at Pfizer and Moderna, makers of vaccines, have predicted people will need a booster shot in the months ahead.

“If boosters are necessary, we’ll certainly be ready … and we’ll have sufficient supply,” Zients said.

The White House will base its decision-making on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, he said.

Fauci, also speaking on Mother’s Day on Sunday, sounded optimistic as well about the country’s prospects.

“I hope that next Mother’s Day, we’re going to see a dramatic difference than what we’re seeing right now,” Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I believe that we will be about as close to back to normal as we can [be].”

The U.S. is seeing about 43,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, down from about 60,000 per day earlier this year, although it has further to go, he said.

“We’ve got to get it much, much lower than that,” Fauci said. “When that gets lower, the risk of any infection indoor or outdoor diminishes dramatically.”

In New York State, COVID-19 tests were coming back positive at an average rate of 1.45%, according to Gov. Cuomo’s office, down from the double-digit range after the winter holidays.

The state recorded 35 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, bringing the official death toll to 42,279; data from Johns Hopkins University puts the state’s number at more than 52,000.

“The numbers and data are showing that New Yorkers are beating back the COVID virus and moving our state forward into the new normal,” said Cuomo, who has been reeling from allegations of sexual misconduct and a scandal over his administration’s handling of COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes.

“We must remain vigilant, and getting vaccinated is the lynch pin of our ability to rebuild New York,” he added.

On the topic of last month’s weaker-than-expected jobs growth, Zients cautioned not to read too much into the April employment statistics.

“We’re heading in the right direction, but it’s a long path out of the difficult period of time that we’ve had because of the pandemic,” he said.

Biden’s Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also described a long road ahead for the nation’s recovery.

“We have fallen behind with our investments in the economy and people are still struggling,” she said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Women in particular [are] still struggling to find affordable child care, to break down some of the barriers necessary to find a job.”

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