White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday it is not the role of the administration to ‘place blame’ after the governor of Alabama called out Americans who have refused to get vaccinated for the rising COVID rates in the U.S.
‘I don’t think our role is to place blame, but what we can do is provide accurate information to people who are not yet vaccinated about the risks they are incurring not only on themselves, but also the people around them,’ she said.
Psaki’s comments came after Alabama Governor Kay Ivey blamed Americans who have refused to get vaccinated against coronavirus for rising COVID case rates. Ivey’s state and others across the South are hammered by new infections – with three states in the region now accounting for 40 percent of active cases nationwide.
‘Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down,’ Ivey, a Republican, told reporters on Thursday.
Psaki kept the White House response focused on educating people who are not vaccinated about why they should get the shot in the arm.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday it is not the role of the administration to ‘place blame’ after the governor of Alabama Kay Ivey called out Americans who have refused to get vaccinated for the rising COVID rates in the U.S.
Psaki also refused to entertain the possibility the administration would put vaccine mandates in place as the vast majority of new cases have been reported in people who are not vaccinated.
‘That’s not the role of the federal government,’ Psaki said when asked about mandates. ‘That is the role that institutions, private sector entities and others may take.’
President Joe Biden and his officials have take to calling COVID ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated’
She did express sympathy for Governor Ivey.
‘We understand her frustration, and we understand the frustrations of leaders out there, and the public voices who are trying to say the right thing, advocate for the efficacy of the virus, save people in their communities.’
She also said any chance to face mask policy was in the hands of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
‘We’re always going to follow the guidance of our health and medical experts,’ Psaki said.
President Joe Biden and his officials have take to calling COVID ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as they urge Americans to get their shot.
‘We have a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten a vaccination,’ the president said this week at a CNN town hall meeting.
He said it was ‘gigantically important’ Americans get vaccinated.
‘If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the IC unit, and you’re not going to die,’ Biden said. ‘So it’s gigantically important that … we all act like Americans who care about our fellow Americans.’
Earlier, Biden had to walk back comments he made, insisting that Facebook ‘isn’t killing people’ and instead blamed them for allowing 12 people to spread the majority of online vaccine misinformation.
‘Facebook isn’t killing people,’ Biden clarified.
‘These 12 people are out there giving misinformation, anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it,’ he continued. ‘It’s killing people. It’s bad information.’
‘My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally,’ Biden said, ‘that they would do something.’
Biden also assured ‘we are not in a battle with Facebook.’
Previously, when Biden was asked if he had a message for Facebook, he responded: ‘They’re killing people. I mean it really. Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.’
Facebook pushed back against that in a statement, lashing out at the administration for ‘blaming a handful of American social media companies’ for the declining vaccination rate.
‘While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a whole of society approach to end this pandemic,’ Facebook’s vice president of integrity, Guy Rosen, wrote in a corporate blog post.
COVID-19 cases have increased by 312 percent in Alabama over the past two weeks
Cases in Texas have grown by 162 percent over the past two weeks
Cases in Missouri have grown by 108 percent over the past two weeks
Cases in Florida have grown by 500 percent over the past two weeks
The Delta variant, a highly contagious strain of the virus that originated in India, accounts for more than 80 percent of active cases
Missouri, Florida and Texas now account for 40 percent of current cases nationwide, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Thursday. He noted that those three have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with 41.4 percent, 48 percent and 43 percent of residents fully-vaccinated, respectively.
‘For the second week in a row, one in five of all cases occurring in Florida alone. And within communities, these cases are primarily among unvaccinated people,’ he said.
In Ivey’s state of Alabama – where only 42 percent of residents are fully vaccinated – daily new cases have increased by 312 percent over the past two weeks, from 275 on July 8 to 1,133 on July 22.
Zients noted, however, that several states with the highest proportion of new infections – including Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada – are now finally beginning to see their vaccination rates rise faster than the nation as a whole – a sign that the threat of the fourth wave is finally hitting home.
In the past week more than two million Americans received their first dose of a vaccine – a 14 percent increase from the week prior.
Florida in particular accounts for nearly 20 percent of active cases.
The state recorded 12,647 new cases on Wednesday, the highest total the state has recorded since the massive winter wave of the virus.
Cases in the state have grown by nearly 500 percent in the past two weeks, with a seven day average of 1,493 new cases on July 6, and 8,912 on July 20.
A majority of the cases are among the unvaccinated as well.
‘If you look at the people that are being admitted to hospitals … over 95 percent of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all,’ Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday.
‘These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality.’
While DeSantis is a supporter of the vaccines, he has previously opposed vaccine mandates, even banning the use of vaccine passport in his state.
Florida has the most vaccinated population of any state in the south, though, with 56 percent of residents having received at least one shot of the virus.
The Indian Delta variant, a highly contagious strain of the virus that originated in the south Asian nation, accounts for more than 80 percent of active cases in the state as well.
In the past week more than two million Americans received their first vaccine dose – a 14 percent increase from the week prior
Missouri was one of the first states to get hammered by the new, Delta Variant led, COVID surge sweeping across the nation.
The southwestern region of the state in particular was hammered at the start of this month.
Mercy Health and CoxHealth in Springfield, Missouri, the biggest city in the region, both were swamped with cases over July 4 weekend. Mercy in particular even faced ventilator shortages.
Missouri’s situation has only gotten worse since then as well.
Cases have more than doubled over the past two weeks, from 1,077 average new daily cases on July 8 to 2,244 average new cases on July 22 – a 108 percent increase.
More than half of active cases in the state are of the Delta variant.
Many cases in the state can also be tied to Branson, Missouri, a small tourist destination is the southwest of the state without a mask mandate.
Missouri has a vaccination rate of 47 percent, a figure that Republican Governor Mike Parson is trying to raise.
On Tuesday, Parson announced that Missouri would become the latest state to launch a vaccine lottery.
What about your boss, Jen? Psaki promises to continue ‘fighting’ ‘misinformation’ after Biden falsely told CNN town hall ‘you’re not going to get COVID if you have vaccinations’ and struggled to explain FDA approval
The White House said on Friday it would continue to tackle COVID-19 misinformation online amid growing criticism that the Biden administration is turning itself into the ultimate arbiter of what is and what is not true.
Officials last week admitted flagging problem posts to Facebook and Democrats are pushing a bill that would put the Department of Health and Human Services in charge of labeling online misinformation.
‘What we’re going to continue to do is make the vaccine available, we’re going to continue to work in partnership to fight misinformation and we’re going to continue to advocate and work in partnership with local officials and entrusted voices to get the word out,’ said President Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki in response to a question about the role of federal government in tackling the pandemic.
Experts in online manipulation say the strategy is wrongheaded and the impact of misinformation is exaggerated.
Three times factcheckers called the president out for making misleading statements, most notably in saying: ‘You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations,’ even as his own White House deals with ‘breakthrough’ cases of infection among staff.
FACT CHECK REVEALS BIDEN FALSELY CLAIMED VACCINE WOULD PREVENT COVID AND HIS ADMINISTRATION HOLDS SIX-MONTH JOBS RECORD
President Joe Biden offered an absolute guarantee Wednesday that people who get their COVID-19 vaccines are completely protected from infection, sickness and death from the coronavirus. The reality is not that cut and dried.
The vaccines are extremely effective but ‘breakthrough’ infections do occur and the delta variant driving cases among the unvaccinated in the U.S. is not fully understood.
Also Biden inflated the impact of his policies on U.S. jobs created in his first half-year in office, misleadingly stating his administration had done more than any other president. He neglects to mention he had population growth on his side in his comparison.
A look at his remarks in a CNN town hall:
BIDEN: ‘If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the IC unit, and you’re not going to die.’
THE FACTS: His remark accurately captures the strong protection the COVID-19 vaccines provide as cases spike among people who have resisted the shots. But it overlooks the rare exceptions.
As of July 12, the government had tallied 5,492 vaccinated people who tested positive for coronavirus and were hospitalized or died. That’s out of more than 159 million fully vaccinated Americans. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said ‘99.5 per cent of all deaths from COVID-19 are in the unvaccinated.’
BIDEN: ‘You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.’
THE FACTS: Again, he painted with too broad a brush as he described in stark terms the disparity between those who got their shots and those who haven’t. The disparity is real, but a small number of breakthrough infections happen and health officials say they are not a cause for alarm.
No vaccines are perfect, and the government is keeping a close eye on whether new coronavirus mutants start to outsmart the COVID-19 shots. But for now, federal health officials say even when breakthrough infections occur, they tend to be mild – the vaccines so far remain strongly protective against serious illness.
BIDEN, when asked after the town hall about vaccinated people who get infected: ‘It may be possible, I know of none where they’re hospitalized, in ICU and or have passed away so at a minimum I can say even if they did contract it, which I’m sorry they did, i’s such a tiny percentage and it’s not life threatening.’
THE FACTS: Once again, too far. That is evident from the CDC’s finding that 5,492 vaccinated people who tested positive for coronavirus were hospitalized or died as of July 12. That’s not ‘none.’ But he is correct that it is a small percentage of the more than 159 million fully vaccinated Americans.
BIDEN: ‘Now, by the way, remember when I first got elected, the issue was, well, I said I was going to do a million shots a week, and people said, ‘Biden can’t do that’ or “Biden team can’t do that.” And it was 2 million.’
FACTS: Biden’s initial goal was 1 million shots a day, not a week, in his first 100 days. His target was 100 million shots in the first 100 days. He then raised it to 200 million when the administration easily reached the target.
BIDEN: ‘We’ve created more jobs in the first six months of our administration than any time in American history. No president, no administration, has ever created as many jobs.’
THE FACTS: His claim is misleading.
While Biden’s administration in the first half year as president has seen more jobs created than any other president – just over 3 million in the five months tracked by jobs reports – that’s partly because the U.S. population is larger than in the past.
When calculated as a percentage of the workforce, job growth under President Jimmy Carter increased more quickly from February through June 1977 than the same five months this year: 2.2 per cent for Carter, compared with 2.1 per cent for Biden.
Since the late 1970s, the U.S. population has grown by more than 100 million people.
It’s true, though, that the economy is growing rapidly – it expanded at a 6.4 per cent annual rate in the first three months of the year – and is expected to grow this year at the fastest pace since 1984.
Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package contributed to the vigorous growth, but much of the expansion also reflects a broader bounce-back from the unusually sharp pandemic recession, the deepest downturn since the 1930s. Even before Biden’s package, for example, the International Monetary Fund was projecting U.S. growth of over 5 per cent for this year.
Biden is also leaving out the fact that the U.S. economy remains 6.8 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level, and the unemployment rate is an elevated 5.9 per cent, up from a five-decade low of 3.5 per cent before the pandemic.
BIDEN: Said the price of a car is ‘kind of’ back to the same as it was ‘before the pandemic’.
FACTS: New car prices are significantly higher than then they were before the onset of the pandemic. According to the Consumer Price Index, new and used cars were 20% higher in June 2020 than they were in January 2020. That was 19% higher again on prices from June 19%.
CHILD TAX CREDIT
BIDEN: ‘It’s called the child tax credit. If you have a child under the age of 7, you get 300 bucks a month — 350 bucks a month. If you have a child under — between 7 and 17, you get a total of 200 bucks a month.
FACTS: The age groups used to determine the brackets are 6 to 17 and not 7 to 17 as Biden suggested. Parents receive up to $250 a month for each child between 6 and 17 and $350 for those under 6.
BIDEN: He criticized clauses in contracts that restrict employees’ abilities to move jobs in a similar industry by saying, ‘you have over 600,000 people out there signing – 6 million people signing a – I better check the number — of — signing noncompete agreements. Not because they have … any secret, but because they were working for one fast-food restaurant, and they’re told they can’t get 10 cents more going across town, going to the other fast-food restaurant. Why? To keep wages down.
FACTS: The numbers he used were not close to the real figures. A White House document published on July 9 suggests there are between 36 and 60 million workers under noncompete clauses, based off figures from the Economic Policy Institute.
‘UP TO 20 REPUBLICANS’ SIGNING LETTER SUPPORTING INFRASTRUCTURE
BIDEN: ‘You had up to 20 Republicans sign a letter saying, “We think we need this deal. We think we need this deal”,’ Biden said when discussing the bipartisanship in the ongoing negotiations over his infrastructure bill.
FACTS: Republican Sen. Rob Portman said 11 Republican senators sent a letter to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer suggesting they would vote no in the procedural vote on Wednesday. All 50 Republicans ended up voting against advancing the bill. Schumer is now trying to push through negotiations to launch another vote on Monday.
Facebook says it is wrong for the White House to single out a handful of social media companies for blame over vaccine hesitancy among the American population
The missteps triggered a fresh chorus from opponents saying the White House was ill-equipped to take on the role of factchecker-in-chief when even the president stumbled over the truth about the virus.
Republican strategist John Feehery said Biden’s gaffes made him a constant source of misinformation.
‘Trump wasn’t that much better but at least everyone knew that Trump was Trump,’ he said.
‘No one assumed that Trump was going to be accurate. The problem with Biden and the Biden administration is they have put themselves as the top, most credible source and that’s simply not true.’
The question cuts across political divides into philosophy and questions about the nature of objective truth. When our understanding of coronavirus and the pandemic is moving so fast, who gets to decide what is true, what is an exaggeration and what is misinformation?
The discussion comes amid a slew of initiatives to rein in the power of social media companies and hold them accountable for content posted on their sites.
The White House is reviewing Section 230 – a 1990s era regulations that protects tech companies from being held liable for their content, in the way that newspaper and magazine publishers are.
Democratic senators this week introduced legislation that would require internet platforms such as Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to take down health and vaccine-related misinformation during public health emergencies or be held liable for its impacts.
It would set up the Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidelines on what is and what is not misinformation.