CINCINNATI (AP) – President Joe Biden has expressed frustration at the slowdown in the COVID-19 vaccination rate in the United States and has argued that it was “extremely important” for Americans to step up and get vaccinate against the virus as it reappears.
Biden, speaking at a televised town hall in Cincinnati on Wednesday night, said the public health crisis had largely turned into a plight of the unvaccinated, as the spread of the delta variant led to an increase in infections across the country.
“We have a pandemic for those who haven’t been vaccinated – it’s that basic, that simple,” he told CNN mayor.
The president also expressed optimism that children under 12 will be approved for vaccination in the coming months. But he displayed his exasperation that so many eligible Americans are still reluctant to get the vaccine.
“If you get vaccinated, you won’t be hospitalized, you won’t be in the IC unit, and you won’t die,” Biden said at the Mount St. Joseph University forum. “So it’s extremely important that… we all act like Americans who care about our fellow Americans.”
For 80 minutes, Biden answered questions about many of the day’s pressing issues, including his infrastructure package, voting rights, and the makeup of the congressional committee that will investigate the Jan.6 insurgency on Capitol Hill. He also reflected on what it’s like to be president, saying he’s sometimes bewildered by the pomp that comes with the job and the weight of being “the last guy in the room” left to make decisions. intimidating.
Six months after starting his presidency, taming the coronavirus remains his most pressing problem.
Hospitalizations and deaths in the United States affect almost all the unvaccinated. But COVID-19 cases have nearly tripled in the United States in two weeks amid a wave of vaccine misinformation that is straining hospitals, exhausting doctors and pushing clergy into the fray.
In the United States, the seven-day moving average for new daily cases has risen over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, from less than 13,700 on July 6, according to data from Johns Hopkins University . According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 56.2% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The president noted that the hike has become so worrying that even his critics oppose misinformation about vaccines.
Biden made an indirect reference to prominent conservative figures at Fox News who have “had an altar call” and are now speaking more openly to their skeptical guests about the benefits of getting the shot. Sean Hannity recently told viewers, “I believe in the science of vaccination” and urged them to take the disease seriously. Steve Doocy, who co-hosts “Fox & Friends,” told viewers this week that the vaccination “will save your life.”
Before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington, Biden told reporters he was “glad they had the courage to say what they said.”
Asked about the price hike, Biden acknowledged “that there will be short-term inflation” as the economy rebounds from the pandemic, but said it was “highly unlikely that long-term inflation will become uncontrollable ”.
Biden, who visited Ohio as he tried to build support for his economic agenda, visited a union training center ahead of town hall.
The trip comes as the fate of its infrastructure proposal remains uncertain 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 a deal and called for a postponement until Monday.
Biden expressed his confidence in the outcome, saying, “It’s a good thing and I think we’ll get there.”
As lawmakers wrangled over the details of this proposal on Capitol Hill, Biden argued that his nearly $ 4 trillion package was needed to rebuild the middle class and support the economic growth the country has experienced over the years. first six months of his presidency.
The president’s visit took him near the dangerously obsolete Brent Spence Bridge, a bottleneck for trucks and emergency vehicles between Ohio and Kentucky that the two former presidents unsuccessfully vowed to replace.
Biden made a passing reference to the structure, telling town hall attendees it was time to “fix that damn bridge.”
He delved into the staff when faced with a question about the scourge of drug addiction, noting that he was “so proud” of his son Hunter Biden, who published a memoir about his struggles with drug addiction. . The President also noted that he felt a bit embarrassed by some of the fringe benefits that come with the office. He was laughed at when he said he told some White House staff not to come and serve breakfast. The real reason: the president likes to have breakfast in his robe.
Biden has defended filibustering 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 was trying to rally the country around the need to protect voting rights, and he doesn’t want “the debate to be just about whether or not we have an obstruction.” Biden said if Democrats remove the filibuster, “you’re going to plunge the whole Congress into chaos and nothing will be done.”
Back in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday dismissed two Republicans selected by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on a committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising. . McCarthy said the GOP would not participate in the inquiry if Democrats did not accept the members he had appointed.
Lemon asked how Biden could be confident Republicans and Democrats could agree on anything when they couldn’t even agree on the investigation into the most cheeky attack on Capitol Hill the United States for 200 years.
Biden simply replied, “These people,” a nod to forum viewers and his faith in Americans at large. But Biden also seemed to recognize that the partisan divide in Washington had become infuriating.
“I don’t care if you think I’m Satan reincarnated,” Biden said. “The point is, you can’t watch this TV and say nothing happened on the 6th and listen to people saying it was a peaceful march.”