Trying to console the country, President Joe Biden told Americans on Thursday that if they continue to follow restrictions and abide by public health guidelines then they will be allowed to gather together in small groups for Independence Day.
The comments drew criticisms from some conservatives who vocalized that they did not appreciate the government telling them on such a personal level what they can or cannot do.
The president’s comments also drew some criticism from former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb—who served under the Trump administration between 2017 and 2019—who predicted the president’s timeline was wrong and that the country would return to gathering in small groups well before the summer.
“I think we should be giving public health advice that is in line with where people are,” he said during an interview with CNBC. “[When] people feel the risk declining because they’ve been vaccinated, because they see infection levels going down in many parts of the country, they’re going to be willing to take more risk because they sense that their vulnerability is declining. And you know what? They’re right.”
“People are going to be out this summer and they’re going to be out well before July,” Gottlieb predicted via the report.
CNBC reports the country is continuing to see a decline in the rate of new cases:
A key factor helping to slow the spread of the virus is growing levels of immunity in the U.S. population, Gottlieb said. He estimated around half of the U.S. population has some form of protective immunity from the coronavirus, factoring in both diagnosed and undiagnosed infections along with those who have been vaccinated.
About 64 million Americans have received at least one Covid vaccine dose, equating to roughly 19% of the U.S. population of 330 million people, according to data compiled by the CDC. One in 10 Americans is fully vaccinated.
The big picture: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance this month that said fully vaccinated people can gather in small groups indoors — without masks — and still be safe.
- But the agency has cautioned against travel, even for vaccinated Americans, and warned states not to lift restrictions too early out of concern for another coronavirus wave driven by new variants.
- About 19% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, per CDC data. About 10% are fully vaccinated.