President Joe Biden on Thursday will outline new approaches to control the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, which rages on despite the wide availability of vaccines.
Just over 53 per cent of Americans are fully vaccinated, including almost two-thirds of the adult population, according to CDC data. The disease has killed more than 649,000 Americans.
The president is expected to touch on several areas of concern, including:
- New plans to get more people vaccinated.
- Enhancing protection for those who already have had shots.
- Keeping schools open.
The speech will also cover increasing testing and mask-wearing, protecting an economic recovery from the pandemic-induced recession and improving health care for people infected with the disease, a White House official said.
“We know that increasing vaccinations will stop the spread of the pandemic, will get the pandemic under control, will return people to normal life,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday. “We have more work to do, and we are still at war with the virus.”
As of September 6, national forecasts predict 430,000–1,520,000 new <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> cases will likely be reported during the week ending October 2. More: <a href=”https://t.co/7AP4I3S9PU”>https://t.co/7AP4I3S9PU</a> <a href=”https://t.co/K0qDKbdTBI”>pic.twitter.com/K0qDKbdTBI</a>
With many Americans still skeptical of the shots, the White House has already announced plans to give those who are fully vaccinated booster shots for more additional protection.
In doing so, they have rejected arguments from the World Health Organization and other advocates that rich countries should hold off on booster shots before more people worldwide have been inoculated.
-From Reuters, last updated at 7 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
WATCH | Too much talk, too little action on vaccine equity, WHO chief says:
As of early Thursday morning, more than 222.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at well over 4.5 million.
The World Health Organization said low-income countries were ready to run effective COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and it was now down to manufacturers and rich countries to deliver the pledged doses to ease global health inequalities.
In the Asia-Pacific region, parts of Australia’s New South Wales state will come out of lockdown Saturday and the government plans to ease restrictions in Sydney once 70 per cent of its residents aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated.
The government on Thursday outlined plans to ease restrictions in Sydney, which has been locked down since June, but it also warned that COVID-19 hospitalizations won’t plateau until next month. Coastal areas north of Sydney, the Murrumbidgee region south of the city and the Riverina to the west will be released from the statewide lockdown Saturday.
In the Americas, countries in the Americas should prioritize pregnant and lactating women in distribution of COVID-19 shots, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said, hailing the ability of the vaccines to protect women and their babies.
In Africa, South Africa has set a Nov. 1 date for municipal elections, after a court last week rejected a request to delay them until early next year to allow more time for COVID-19 vaccinations.
In the Middle East, Iran on Wednesday reported 26,854 new cases of COVID-19 and 538 additional deaths.
In Europe, Germany is extending its COVID-19 emergency aid for struggling companies by three months until the end of this year, the finance and economy ministries said.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7 a.m. ET