In a televised town hall, President Biden showed his exasperation that so many eligible Americans are still reluctant to receive the COVID vaccine.
CINCINNATI, Ohio – President Joe Biden expressed frustration Wednesday at the slowdown in the COVID-19 vaccination rate in the US, declaring that it is “gigantic important” for Americans to step up and get vaccinated against the virus as it re-emerges.
Biden, speaking at a televised town hall in Cincinnati, said the public health crisis has largely turned into a difficult situation for the unvaccinated, as the spread of the delta variant has led to an increase in infections throughout the country.
“We have a pandemic for those who have not received the vaccine, it is that basic, that simple,” he said at the CNN town hall.
The president also expressed optimism that children under the age of 12 will be approved for vaccination in the coming months. But he showed exasperation that so many eligible Americans remain reluctant to get an injection.
“If you are vaccinated, you will not be hospitalized, you will not be in the IC unit and you will not die,” Biden told the Mount St. Joseph University forum. “So it’s hugely important that … we all act like Americans who care about our compatriots.”
For 80 minutes, Biden answered questions about many of the day’s pressing issues, including his infrastructure package, voting rights and the composition of the Congressional commission that will investigate the Jan.6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. He also reflected on what it’s like to be president and said he is sometimes baffled by the pomp that comes with work and the burden of being “the last man in the room” left to make overwhelming decisions.
Six months after his presidency, the domestication of the coronavirus remains his most urgent problem.
Almost all hospitalizations and deaths in the US are among the unvaccinated. But COVID-19 cases nearly tripled in the United States over two weeks amid a flood of vaccine misinformation that is putting pressure on hospitals, draining doctors and pushing clergy into the fray.
Across the United States, the seven-day moving average of daily new cases rose in the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, down from less than 13,700 on July 6, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Only 56.2% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The president noted that the increase has become so worrisome that even his critics are rejecting the vaccine misinformation.
Biden made an indirect reference to conservative high-profile personalities on Fox News who have “had an altar call” and are now speaking more openly with their skeptical guests about the benefits of getting vaccinated. Sean Hannity recently told viewers, “I believe in the science of vaccination” and urged them to take the disease seriously. Steve Doocy, co-host of “Fox & Friends,” told viewers this week that the vaccination “will save his life.”
When asked about rising prices, Biden acknowledged that “there will be short-term inflation” as the economy recovers from the pandemic, but said it was “highly unlikely that long-term inflation will get out of control. “.
Biden, who traveled to Ohio while trying to increase support for his economic agenda, visited a union training center across from City Hall.
The trip comes as the fate of his infrastructure proposal remains unclear after Senate Republicans rejected a $ 1 trillion plan in a key test vote on Wednesday. A bipartisan group of 22 senators said in a joint statement after the vote that they were close to reaching an agreement on a deal and requested a delay until Monday.
Biden expressed his confidence in the result, saying: “It’s a good thing and I think we will get there.”
As lawmakers argue over the details of that proposal on Capitol Hill, Biden argued that his nearly $ 4 trillion package is necessary to rebuild the middle class and sustain the economic growth the country has experienced during the first six months of his presidency.
The president’s visit brought him close to the dangerously outdated Brent Spence Bridge, a truck and emergency vehicle bottleneck between Ohio and Kentucky that the last two presidents unsuccessfully vowed to replace.
Biden made a passing reference to the structure and told city hall goers that it’s time to “fix that damn bridge.”
He took a personal dive when faced with a question about the scourge of drug addiction, noting that he is “very proud” of his son Hunter Biden, who has published a memoir on his struggles with substance abuse. The president also noted that he feels a bit self-conscious about some of the added benefits that come with the office. He caused laughter when he said he told some of the White House staff not to come serve breakfast. The real reason: the president likes to eat breakfast in a robe.
Biden defended the filibuster against repeated questions from CNN moderator Don Lemon about why he feels the need to protect what some critics argue is a legislative tactic once used to protect racist policies.
He said he is trying to unite the country around the need to protect voting rights, and does not want “the debate to be only about whether or not we have obstructionism.” Biden said that if the Democrats remove the filibuster “you’re going to drive the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will be done.”
In Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday rejected two Republicans selected by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to serve on a committee investigating the Jan.6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. McCarthy said the Republican Party will not participate in the investigation if the Democrats do not accept the members he appointed.
Lemon asked how Biden could trust that Republicans and Democrats can unite on any issue when they can’t even come to an agreement on the investigation of the most brazen attack on the United States Capitol in 200 years.
Biden simply replied, “These people,” a nod to forum viewers and their faith in Americans in general. But Biden also seemed to acknowledge that the partisan rift in Washington had become maddening.
“I don’t care if you think I’m Satan reincarnated,” Biden said. “The fact is, you can’t watch that television and say nothing happened on the 6th and listen to people saying that this was a peaceful march.”