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WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden announced a sweeping plan Thursday to combat the highly transmissible delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. The plan includes increasing nationwide vaccination through additional mandates and by ramping up access to testing. The announcement comes after the United States reported earlier this week that it has now surpassed 650,000 deaths from COVID-19.
Nearly every county in the U.S. is experiencing substantial or high community transmission of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Physicians say that the majority of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across the country are among the dwindling percentage of unvaccinated Americans. Sixty-three percent of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by now, including nearly three in four eligible Americans age 12 or older.
In response, Matthew Wellington, PIRG’s public health campaigns director, released the following statement:
“From the beginning of the pandemic, we've failed to be aggressive enough to squash the virus and save lives. And we didn’t learn our lesson from earlier waves of infections. Again, with the delta variant, we let our guard down too quickly and are paying the price. President Biden’s new, ambitious plan will help rein in the virus by getting more people vaccinated and eventually starving it of opportunities to spread.
“Elected officials at the federal, state and local levels need to work together now to save lives. All public health measures should be on the table, including temporary stay-at-home orders for areas suffering high transmission rates, mandatory mask-wearing, aggressive testing and more vaccine mandates. That multi-pronged approach can buy us time while we mobilize all of our ingenuity and resources to rapidly vaccinate more people.”
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