The White House said Monday that it sees little risk in holding a July Fourth celebration amid concerns about the fast-moving delta variant of the coronavirus. Officials said vaccines are sufficiently protective and the arc of the pandemic is improving in the U.S.
“We, of course, will continue to evaluate any steps that need to be taken to protect the public, protect the American people. But we continue to make significant progress, and we are confident in our plans moving forward for July Fourth,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
President Biden plans to host a barbecue for essential workers and military members on the White House South Lawn on Sunday and deliver remarks about Independence Day.
People also will congregate on the National Mall for the traditional July Fourth fireworks display.
President Trump was heavily criticized for holding a similar White House celebration last year during the pandemic, but no vaccine was available at the time.
For months, Mr. Biden has pinpointed Independence Day as the entry point to normalcy as the vaccines beat back transmission of the coronavirus and lockdowns are lifted.
Outdoor activities pose a far lower risk of transmission than indoor events, and nearly half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Mass gatherings are getting a second look, though, because of the spread of dangerous variants such as the delta version.
Parts of Missouri reported outbreaks of the delta variant, though much of the problem has been centered on areas with low vaccination rates.
Slightly more than half of the D.C. population is fully vaccinated, and the U.S. case count is down to an average of 11,000 per day.
“Our north star has been data,” Ms. Psaki said. “I don’t anticipate, at this time, our plans changing.”