During an address to mark the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic that has changed the lives of millions of people across the country, President Joe Biden gave a hopeful update. Specifically, Biden said families could likely spend July 4 together this year in small, but safe gatherings.
Biden’s first primetime address focused largely on the coronavirus pandemic and his administration’s plans to improve the lives of Americans who have suffered because of it. He noted that 81 million vaccinations have been administered in the past seven weeks, and that every American will be eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by May 1. Biden said he plans to increase the number of places where people can receive the vaccine by doubling the amount of pharmacies able to vaccinate, as well as increasing federal-run community vaccination centers and community health centers.
With all of that in mind, Biden told Americans on Thursday night that there’s a holiday we can look forward to. “If we do our part... by July 4, there's a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day... Small groups will be able to get together.”
People who have spent the past year adhering to CDC recommendations to avoid big gatherings, wear masks, and practice social distancing in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus will certainly find something to celebrate with this news. The United States has seen more than 29 million people infected with the coronavirus while more than 540,000 have died since the pandemic first hit last March. Children switched to remote learning, parents worked from home, grandparents were unable to hug their grandchildren for fear of contracting the coronavirus. People lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost their loved ones. Everywhere Americans were struggling with mental health issues, suicidal ideation rates went up as did substance abuse numbers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Biden administration began an aggressive rollout of the vaccine in January, with states covering all bases including “no waste lists” to ensure no dose of vaccine is wasted. A website connecting people to vaccines has even been established.
July 4 has always been a day of parades and fireworks, barbecues and family, something that felt impossible for many people during the peak of the pandemic. If people continue to get vaccinated, the possibility of life returning to normal increases exponentially. As the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with CNN, for society to get back to “normal” requires getting “75 to 80% of the population vaccinated.” He added, “Because if you can get people protected, and get an umbrella of what we call ‘herd immunity,’ the level of infection is going to go very, very low down.”
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.