Biden celebrates 'independence from COVID' in White House speech

Biden declares ‘independence from COVID’ in July 4 White House speech but warns the virus is NOT ‘vanquished’ amid Indian Delta variant rise after MISSING his goal to get 70% of US vaccinated

  • President Joe Biden celebrated ‘independence from COVID-19’ during his Fourth of July speech from the White House on Sunday 
  • ‘Today, we celebrate America. Our freedom, our liberty, our independence. The Fourth of July is a sacred day in our country,’ Biden said
  • The first couple is hosting around 1,000 first responders and military family members on the South Lawn for a July Fourth BBQ
  • Despite the celebratory occasion, the president reflected on the over 600,000 lives lost from the virus’ and push for Americans to get vaccinated 
  • Biden set a goal to get 70 per cent of Americans at least one dose of the vaccine against coronavirus and for 160 million to be fully inoculated by July 4
  • Only 67% of adults across America have received one dose of the vaccine 
  • Biden arrived back in D.C. with first lady Jill Biden, 21-year-old granddaughter Finnegan, the daughter of the late Beau Biden, and her friend  
  • Biden spent his Independence Day morning attending mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware   

President Joe Biden commemorated the Fourth of July by lauding Americans’ ‘independence from COVID-19’ and promised a ‘bright future’ as he pushed for the unvaccinated to get the jab.

‘America is coming back together,’ the president said during his address from the South Lawn of the White House.

‘Today we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from the deadly virus,’ Biden said, but struck a serious tone as he warned that there is still a far way to go.

‘Just as our declaration in 1776 was not a call to action – was a call to action… the same is true today. Back then, we had the power of an idea on our side. Today we have the power of science,’ he added.

As Biden made his remarks, he was faced with the reality of missing two big goals in the vaccination efforts – getting 160 million Americans fully vaccinated and making sure 70 per cent of adults received at least one dose by July 4, 2021.

Biden repeated his claim that getting the jab is ‘the most patriotic thing’ an American can do. 

Joe Biden celebrated ‘independence from COVID-19 ‘ during his July 4th speech from the White House on Sunday despite the U.S. missing his goal of getting 70 per cent of Americans at least one shot by the mid-summer holiday

Biden told the hundreds of first responders and military family members gathered for the July 4 celebration the getting vaccinated is the ‘most patriotic thing’ an American can do 

‘Today, we celebrate America. Our freedom, our liberty, our independence. The Fourth of July is a sacred day in our country. A day of history, of hope, remembrance and resolve, of promise and possibilities,’ Biden began in remarks celebrating the holiday. 

Biden arrived back in Washington D.C. from a short trip to Wilmington, Delaware on Sunday afternoon. Joining him on the flight were first lady Jill Biden, granddaughter Finnegan Biden, 21, and her friend.

Ahead of the annual fireworks show, the president hosted a BBQ on the South Lawn of the White House with first responders and military families.

‘It’s the greatest honor to serve as your commander in chief. Thank you for your service and sacrifice,’ the president told the gathered service members.

‘Today we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from the deadly virus,’ Biden said, but struck a serious tone as he warned that there is still a far way to go 

Selfie time: The president mingles with attendees at his July 4 celebration and takes a selfie with a woman standing to meet him in the South Lawn

The four presidential mascots who do a race ins jest at every National’s baseball game in Washington, D.C. raced around the South Lawn before snapping a picture with the president. Teddy (second from left) broke his losing streak and won the race 

Biden also highlighted the importance of democracy, saying: ‘Each day we’re reminded there’s nothing guaranteed about our democracy.’

AMERICA’S COMING BACK

The theme of the night at the White House was ‘America is Back’, and celebrated a return to normalcy with the creation and distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.

Biden vowed when becoming president that Americans would be able to celebrate Independence Day as usual – and he praised his administration during the speech Sunday for delivering on that promise.

Some criticized the White House for going forward with its usual massive South Lawn celebration with variants – like the Delta variant – surging.

CIVIL RIGHTS

During his speech, Biden also touched on some progressive agenda items, including the For the People voting rights act that has had trouble garnering Republican support in Congress and failed to overcome a Senate filibuster last month.

The president said Americans have ‘the right to vote and have that vote counted’, which garnered a loud cheer from the hundreds gathered on the South Lawn.

Democrats claim that the American voting system is systematically racist and tries to stifle the black vote by making it harder for poorer communities to cast their ballot.

Biden sympathized with civil rights activists, saying that American hasn’t fully lived up to its creed that ‘all men are created equal.’

After quoting that part of the Declaration of Independence, Biden said: ‘Well we’ve never fully lived up to those words.’

‘We’ve never given up on them,’ he added. 

Despite the celebratory occasion, the president reflected on the over 600,000 lives lost from the virus’ and push for the rest of Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Biden set a goal to get 70 per cent of Americans at least one dose of the vaccine against coronavirus and for 160 million to be fully inoculated by July 4, 2021 – and the administration fell short of both. Only 67% of adults across America have received one dose of the vaccine by the holiday. 

President Joe Biden (left) departs Air Force One ahead of his July 4 speech with granddaughter Finnegan Biden, her friend (far right) and first lady Jill Biden in tow

Earlier on Sunday, a White House official said that Biden will use the celebration to mark the country’s progress in its pandemic response. 

‘Thanks to his whole-of-government approach and the strength of the American people,’ the official continued, ‘vaccinations continue to rise and cases and deaths have fallen by more than 90 per cent since January.’

‘Because of this, Americans across the country are able to celebrate this Fourth of July together.’

‘He will note that, while we’ve made strong progress against the virus in the United States, the job is far from over,’ the White House official said of Biden’s upcoming speech. ‘He will urge every American to join the fight—to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated—and reiterate his Administration’s redoubled efforts to boost vaccinations.’ 

Back to normal: People gather on the National Mall for the 245th Anniversary of the U.S. declaring independence from Britain. The CDC recommends vaccinated Americans can gather normally without fear of a super spreader 

A group of women from Ohio dance outside the White House on July 4 

The president started his Independence Day with a trip to church in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware .

He emerged from St. Joseph on the Brandywine on Sunday morning and was pictured walking through the cemetery, where his son Beau Biden is buried.

Jill Biden, who is usually alongside her husband for church services, was not pictured with him this Sunday. Instead, she was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania attending and speaking at the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony in front of Independence Hall.

Biden spends the majority of his weekends away from Washington in Wilmington, where he is usually pictured attending Catholic mass once – sometime twice – during his two-day stay.  

The first couple departed from Wilmington on Sunday afternoon to head back to Washington, D.C. for a July 4 celebration at the White House. 


Biden, a devout Catholic, spent his Independence Day morning attending mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. First lady Jill Biden was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania speaking at the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony in front of Independence Hall

The president will make remarks to mark Independence Day, but the White House notes it will also be a speech celebrating ‘independence from COVID-19’. 

Essential workers and military families are invited to the Fourth of July BBQ at the White House ahead of Biden’s remarks – despite concerns of the Delta variant.

‘The President will thank the military families and essential workers who are attending the event for their sacrifices for our country, especially during the pandemic,’ the official said. ‘And he’ll reflect on the progress our nation has made to live up to our founding ideals, and the work still to be done.’

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients defended the celebration to ABC News. 

‘The event at the White House is being done in the right way,’ he said, assuring it is being conducted ‘consistent with CDC guidelines.’ 

Biden and First Lady Jill will then view the annual fireworks display over the National Mall from the White House.

Vice President Kamala Harris is spending her holiday at her home in Los Angeles, California. 

After church, Biden played a round of golf at Wilmington Country Club with former Senator Ted Kaufman. Pictures are the two departing the course on July 4, 2021

Before heading back to D.C., Biden stopped by Wilmington Country Club for a round of golf with former Senator Ted Kaufman. 

Ahead of the holiday, Biden’s administration has lauded their vaccine push and insisted that celebrating July 4 in the traditional way is safe again – as long as all the people engaging in the festivities have received the jab.

However, the U.S. missed Biden’s goal of getting 160 million Americans fully immunized by the mid-summer holiday. He also wanted at least 70 per cent of adults to have received at least one shot by July 4, 2021, a second vaccine goal that was not reached.

Zients, who succeeded Dr. Deborah Birx, said the failure could be due to young people who were made eligible for the vaccine much later than adults. 

He also told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that this demographic has ‘felt less vulnerable to the disease.’

‘We made a lot of progress,’ Zients praised in a separate interview with CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning. ‘I think we’re much further along than anyone would have anticipated at this point.’

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