CINCINNATI (Reuters) -President Joe Biden pleaded with skeptical Americans on Wednesday to get vaccinated, as rising COVID-19 cases threaten to undermine progress against the pandemic and slow the country’s economic rebound.
U.S. President Joe Biden participates in a town hall-style interview at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
“Look, it’s real simple. We have a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten a vaccination. It’s that basic, that simple,” Biden said at a town-hall event in Ohio broadcast on CNN.
“Ten thousand people have recently died. Nine thousand nine hundred and fifty of them, thereabouts, are people who hadn’t been vaccinated,” he said.
White House officials said the event, in a part of Cincinnati that voted strongly for Republican former President Donald Trump last November, would give Biden, a Democrat, a chance to reflect on his first six months in office and appeal directly to Americans to get vaccinated.
Swiftly rising coronavirus cases across the United States and abroad have fueled fears of a resurgent pandemic and rattled stock markets as the highly contagious Delta variant appears to be taking hold.
Many of the new U.S. outbreaks are in parts of the country where COVID-19 vaccinations have lagged. The White House’s vaccination efforts have stalled amid waves of disinformation and skepticism.
Biden expressed optimism that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may approve a COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12 as soon as the end of August, ahead of previous estimates.
“My expectation talking to the group of scientists we put together … is that sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, beginning of September, October, they’ll get a final approval,” Biden said.
There are also concerns about inflation as pent-up demand combined with supply-side challenges pushes up prices for consumer goods.
Biden described the uptick in prices for consumer goods as temporary.
“The vast majority of the experts, including Wall Street, are suggesting that it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to be long-term inflation that’s going to get out of hand,” Biden said.
He expressed confidence that the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal he struck last month will eventually get passed.
The fate of the deal, one of the president’s top priorities, is uncertain in Congress where Democrats hold slim majorities.
“You had up to 20 Republicans sign the letter saying we think we need this deal. We think we need this deal. … I come from a tradition in the Senate, you shake your hand, that’s it,” said Biden, a longtime senator.
Asked about the decision by Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reject Republican Representatives Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, staunch defenders of Trump, for a panel investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters, Biden said what happened that day was clear.
“I don’t care if you think I’m Satan reincarnated, the fact is you can’t look at that television and say nothing happened on the 6th” of January, Biden said. “You can’t listen to people who say this was a peaceful march.”
Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Heather Timmons and Peter Cooney