WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday issued his latest appeal to unvaccinated Americans, warning that the delta variant of the coronavirus is "potentially more dangerous" than other strains and represents a cause for concern amid an uptick in new cases.
Biden said at the White House that the highly transmissible strain has led to an increase in new coronavirus cases, particularly in communities with low vaccination rates.
He promised his administration would "devote the remainder of the summer" to focusing on a five-part strategy to increase vaccination rates.
"It’s more easily transmissible and potentially more dangerous," Biden said of the variant, which has been detected in all 50 states and nearly 100 other countries.
"It seems to me it should cause everybody to think twice," Biden said.
Biden announced the United States was on pace in the coming days to have fully vaccinated 160 million Americans, but insisted that "we can’t get complacent now."
Biden said his administration’s latest push will focus on "door-to-door outreach" to reach those who are the most reluctant to get vaccinated.
The administration also is encouraging employers to offer on-site vaccinations or paid time off to get vaccinated, and will step up efforts to distribute more vaccines to local primary care doctors and pediatricians.
Biden's latest push comes after months of attempting to persuade Americans to get vaccinated through efforts including TV and radio ads, free giveaways at vaccine sites and free rides to vaccine locations.
Biden noted that the trio of vaccines currently authorized in the United States — manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — all are "are highly effective" against the virus, including the delta variant.
"Study after study … has shown that since early May, virtually every COVID-19 hospitalization and death in the United States has been among the unvaccinated," Biden said.
"So if you're vaccinated, you're protected, but if you're unvaccinated, you're not, and you're putting yourself, more importantly, maybe from your perspective, your family and your friends at risk," Biden said.
Nationwide, nearly 67% of American adults have gotten at least one shot, and 58% were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday morning, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden had initially set a goal of vaccinating 70% of U.S. adults with at least one dose by July 4.
In Nassau County, 79.7% of adults ages 18 and older had received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday morning, according to state health data. In Suffolk, 72.4% of adults had received at least one dose.
Overall, 72.6% of New York adults have received at least one dose, and 66% are fully vaccinated.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said last week that the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States had increased by 10% over a seven-day period, with the delta variant accounting for a quarter of all new cases.
"It is clear that communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that remain vulnerable," Walensky told reporters last Thursday.
The delta variant, first detected in India last December, has spread to 96 countries, according to the World Health Organization.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who heads the WHO, said last week that "Delta is the most transmissible of the variants identified so far."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that the Delta variant likely would cause an increase in coronavirus cases in communities with lower vaccination rates because of its high rate of transmissibility.
"Some places, some states, some cities, some areas, where the level of vaccination is low and the level of virus dissemination is high, that's where you're going to see the spikes," Fauci said on NBC’s "Meet the Press."