President Joe Biden will travel to Traverse City, Michigan, on Saturday as the White House looks to use the July Fourth holiday weekend to mark progress in the fight against Covid-19 after more than a year of the pandemic, according to a White House official.
The White House’s theme for the holiday weekend is “America’s Back Together,” according to the official, and the administration is looking to promote the idea that the country is returning to a pre-pandemic normal. First lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, second gentleman Doug Emhoff and members of Biden’s Cabinet will also travel across the country over the holiday weekend.
“The work to vaccinate America and bring us to this moment has been monumental, and the President, vice president, first lady and second gentleman, along with members of the Cabinet, will be fanning out across the country to celebrate our progress in fighting this pandemic and getting our country back to normal,” the White House official said.
Jill Biden will travel to Maine and New Hampshire, and Harris will travel to Nevada on Saturday. Emhoff will travel to Utah on Friday.
Between Thursday and Sunday, Biden’s Cabinet will deploy across the country to attend roundtables and baseball games plus visit fire stations, festivals, parades, cookouts and more, according to the official. States that members of the Cabinet will visit include Colorado, Virginia, Oklahoma, New Mexico, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Ohio, Iowa and New Hampshire, along with Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.
Biden will travel to Michigan the week after Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer officially lifted all of the state’s Covid-19 restrictions, citing dropping Covid-19 case numbers. Michigan is a key battleground state that Biden won in the 2020 election.
Lavora Barnes, the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, told CNN in a statement: “It is often said that the road to the White House goes straight through Michigan, and it does, but so does the road to the U.S. House and Senate. We have a powerful delegation in DC that we fully intend to increase during the mid-terms. President Biden’s continued visits to Michigan are proof that he too recognizes the value of Michigan and our elected leaders.”
The trip ahead of a massive celebration the Bidens are hosting at the White House on July Fourth for more than a thousand essential workers and military families on the South Lawn. The celebration will be the largest in-person White House event since Biden took office. The National Mall will also be open for the traditional July Fourth fireworks and crowds are expected to gather.
“We look forward to celebrating with essential workers and military families on the South Lawn of the White House, as well as Americans at events across the country, that America’s back together thanks to the Biden administration’s whole-of-government pandemic response, the countless essential workers and first responders, and the resiliency of the American people,” the White House official told CNN.
The White House last week acknowledged the US would fall short of Biden’s July Fourth Covid-19 vaccination goals, saying the country has more work to do to get younger Americans vaccinated. The President had aimed to get 70% of US adults to have at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot and to have 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July Fourth.
As of Monday, 66.1% of American adults have had at least one vaccine shot and more than 153 million Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters the administration was on track to hit those goals weeks after the initial target date. Zients said the administration was now focused on getting younger Americans, particularly 18- to 26-year-olds, vaccinated against the virus and would be working with state and local leaders on outreach efforts.
Restrictions that were put in place to stop the spread of the virus are being rolled back across the nation and more Americans are returning to their pre-pandemic lifestyles. But federal health officials warn that unvaccinated people can continue to spread the virus and more transmissible new variants could accelerate the spread. The Biden administration is racing to get more of the eligible population vaccinated to try to prevent the rise and spread of even more concerning new variants.
Federal officials are pointing to the emerging B.1.617.2, or Delta, variant, which was first identified in India, as yet another reason to get vaccinated. Andy Slavitt, a former White House senior adviser for Covid-19 response, recently told CNN the Delta variant is like “Covid on steroids.”
Earlier this month, the nation surpassed the grim milestone of 600,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the US.
This story has been updated with additional information.