President Joe Biden warned, Tuesday, that Americans may have to cancel the “small” Independence Day parties he suggested they have back in March to celebrate the end of the COVID-19 pandemic if they continue to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine.
Back in March, Biden announced, in a planned speech from the White House on the anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdowns, that Americans may be able to have small gatherings “in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” if COVID-19 numbers had sufficiently declined.
“If we do this together, by 4 July, there is a good chance you, your family, and friends can get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” Biden said. “After a long, hard year, that will make this Independence Day truly special – where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.”
The promise, which seemed to fail to take into account that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines already allow for small, socially distanced, outdoor gatherings, was conditional on high vaccination rates, Biden said, and to achieve those rates, he said he would order states to open up vaccination to all adults over 16 years of age by May 1, 2021.
Health officials, though, are concerned that the widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine brings its own problems. Speaking to USA Today, one health official noted that with “a plentiful supply of vaccines, there will be more urgency to convince the reluctant to accept it … Otherwise, the abundance of vaccines will become a stagnating surplus that threatens to undermine the nation’s ability to move beyond the pandemic.”
On Tuesday, Biden, seeking a way to motivate Americans to get the jab, warned that families may have to cancel their July 4th plans if a large percentage of individuals continue to refuse the vaccine.
“More than 51 percent of American adults have received at least one vaccine dose, according to CDC data, indicating that herd immunity and the pandemic’s end are near,” the New York Post reported. “But Biden said at the White House that he’s not yet comfortable saying people can hold small outdoor gatherings on Independence Day.”
“Back on March 11, I outlined a vision of what America could look like by the Fourth of July — an America that was much closer to normal life that we left behind more than a year ago,” Biden said. “To celebrate our independence from this virus on July 4th with family and friends in small groups, we still have more to do in the months of May and June. We all need to mask up until the number of cases goes down, until everyone has a chance to get their shot.”
Biden’s statement drew widespread criticism on social media, with many users pointing out that threatening to cancel “Independence Day” over a voluntary vaccine was unlikely to motivate Americans — and that canceling America’s July 4th has not, historically, gone well for heads of state.
“*stares in 1776*,” wrote one Twitter commentator.
“This is exactly why we will celebrate July 4,” said another.