White House to host thousands for July 4th celebration to mark 'independence from the virus'

By Kate Sullivan, CNN

    (CNN) -- The White House will host a celebration for thousands of essential workers and military families on July Fourth on the South Lawn to mark America's "independence from the virus," according to a White House official.

The celebration, which will be the largest in-person White House event since President Joe Biden took office, comes as states across the nation lift restrictions put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The White House is encouraging state and local partners to host their own events across the nation to celebrate the progress the country has made in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. More than 50% of Americans 12 and older are fully vaccinated, children are returning to in-person learning and businesses have been returning to full capacity across the nation.

The National Mall will be open for the traditional July Fourth fireworks, with crowds expected to gather.

But the event will follow a grim milestone in the country's fight against the pandemic: The US surpassed 600,000 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In February, the President held a candle-lighting ceremony and a moment of silence after the US surpassed 500,000 deaths.

In March, Biden said he was hopeful that Americans would be able to gather with family and friends on July Fourth to celebrate the holiday in small groups in backyards as more and more Americans got vaccinated. The White House July Fourth event for thousands exceeds those initial expectations, and it comes after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated Americans don't need to wear masks indoors or outdoors in most situations.

But the Biden administration still faces an uphill battle to vaccinate the rest of the population, and it's racing to get the shots into arms before more concerning variants become the dominant strains in the US. The President has set a goal of 70% of US adults getting at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by July Fourth, but the country is not on pace to hit that mark.

Only 14 states have reached the administration's goal, CDC data shows. More than 1.3 million doses have been reported administered since Sunday, for a seven-day average of about 1.1 million per day. At this pace, the country won't reach Biden's goal until the end of July.

More than 310 million Covid-19 doses have been administered, and more than 145 million Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the CDC.

The-CNN-Wire
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