President Joe Biden prepared to throw a huge Independence Day party Sunday to hail America’s defeat of Covid-19, amid lingering concern that pockets of the country with low vaccination rates remain in the grip of the pandemic.
The president and First Lady Jill Biden will welcome 1,000 military personnel and their families, plus essential workers, for the largest event at the White House since he took office.
A fireworks display that traditionally draws thousands to the National Mall — echoed by similar events across the country — will allow the president to mark what he is calling “independence from this virus.”
A White House official said in a statement the president would celebrate progress against the virus but note that the job is “far from over.”
“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,” the official added.
During last year’s holiday, with the pandemic near its summer peak and towns across America reeling from protests over racism and police brutality, Washington saw a fraction of the visitors it usually welcomes.
After leading the world in Covid deaths, however — more than 600,000 — the United States has emerged as a model for getting the coronavirus under control.
With hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 down 90 percent since January and the country largely reopened, the message from the South Lawn will be unmistakable: what a difference a year makes.
“We do have a lot to celebrate. We are much further along than I think anyone anticipated in this fight against the pandemic,” Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told ABC.