Biden decries vaccine hesitancy as Covid-19 hospitalizations soar

Washington, Aug 3 (EFE).- President Joe Biden lamented the prospect of avoidable deaths on Tuesday as Covid-19 hospitalizations in the United States, where the virus has claimed 613,000 lives, reached levels last seen in February.

The current surge in cases as a result of the spread of the more infectious Delta variant of coronavirus is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he said in a speech at the White House.

The number of people being treated for Covid-19 at hospitals across the US stood at 55,767 on Tuesday compared with around 16,000 a month ago, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

More than a quarter of hospital beds in Florida, the country’s third-most-populous state, are occupied by coronavirus patients, HHS said.

The Sunshine State set a new record Tuesday with 11,515 people hospitalized for Covid-19, including 2,400 patients in intensive care.

Biden criticized the Republican governors of Florida and Texas for their handling of the crisis, noting that those two states together account for one-third of new coronavirus cases.

Texas Gov. and Florida’s Ron DeSantis have barred local school districts in their respective states from requiring masks of students and staff.

DeSantis has even threatened to withhold state funds from districts that try to mandate masks.

“We need leadership from everyone. Some governors aren’t willing to do the right things to make this happen. I say to these governors, please, if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way for people who are doing the right thing,” the president said.

The director of the National Institutes of Health acknowledged Tuesday that the emergence of the Delta variant may have eliminated the chance of reaching so-called herd immunity against Covid-19.

“The idea that we could get actually 80 percent of the public completely unable to harbor this virus, maybe that’s not going to be achievable with the Delta variant,” Dr. Francis Collins said.

“But we could still get to a place where this becomes a nuisance instead of a threat to your life,” he said, encouraging Americans to get the vaccine.

As of Monday, nearly 192 million Americans – 70 percent of the adult population – had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, meeting the target the Biden administration had set for July 4, when the US celebrates Independence Day.

But only 49.7 percent of US adults are fully vaccinated and data about “breakthrough” cases of coronavirus in people who have been inoculated has led some to question the usefulness of getting the shot.

“I know there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so here are the facts,” Biden said Tuesday. “If you are vaccinated, you are highly unlikely to get Covid-19. and even if you do, the chances are you won’t show any symptoms. And if you do, they’ll most likely be very mild. Vaccinated people are almost never hospitalized.” EFE ws-ssa/dr

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