Live Updates: White House COVID Team Holds Briefing After Biden Announces Vaccine Mandate

Live Updates

The White House COVID-19 Response Team held a press briefing Friday following President Joe Biden's announcement of sweeping new vaccine requirements and other measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy led the briefing.

During his Thursday speech, Biden announced that a six-pronged plan from his administration to deter the COVID surge included new vaccine requirements for about 100 million workers in various sectors. This includes executive branch employees, federal government contractors, educators in the federal Head Start program, all hospital workers and other employees in the health care field.

The COVID Response team expressed support for the administration's new measures, reiterating often-voiced calls for Americans to get vaccinated.

"Vaccination requirements have been around for decades for diseases like polio smallpox and measles. They're widely supported, and importantly, they're proven to work," Zients said.

Fauci addressed growing concerns over the emerging Mu variant of COVID-19 with the statistic that the variant only accounts for 0.5 percent of isolates in the U.S. Additionally, he said that the emerging C 1.2 variant accounts for 0 percent of isolates in the country. Fauci stated that the U.S. would continue to monitor the variants, but urged people to get vaccinated in what he described as "the most important thing we can do to protect against any variant."

Walensky announced that the CDC is publishing a new study Friday that examined hospitalizations and deaths in 13 U.S. states and offers "further evidence on the power of vaccination." The study found that unvaccinated people were found to be about four and a half times more likely to be infected with COVID, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to perish from the virus, Walensky said.

"The bottom line is this, we have the scientific tools we need to turn the corner on this pandemic. Vaccination works and will protect us from the severe complications of COVID-19," Walensky said.

The live updates for this event have ended.

COVID Response Team Members
The White House COVID-19 Response Team held a briefing Friday, following President Joe Biden's Thursday announcement of sweeping new measures aimed at combatting the virus. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee July 20, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/Getty Images

When It Comes to Vaccination, Testing Requirements for Air Travel, Administration 'Not Taking Any Measures Off the Table'

When asked by a reported whether the Biden administration was planning to or considering requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to travel on a plane, Jeffrey Zients stated that they have a "very strong track record" that demonstrates "we're pulling all available levers to require vaccinations."

While not directly answering the reporter's question, Zients added that "we're not taking any measures off the table."

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the Transportation Security Administration would double the fines imposed on travelers who don't wear masks.

CDC Director Anticipates Booster Shot Will Be Required to be Fully Vaccinated

When asked by a reporter whether booster shots would be required to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was considering the questions.

Currently, to be fully vaccinated, Americans must receive two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna shots or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, Walensky said that

"I anticipate over time that may be updated, but we will leave that to our advisors to give us some recommendations," Walensky said.

Department of Health Vaccine Outreach Program Has Gained 15,000 Members Since Spring Launch

The COVID-19 Community Corps, a Department of Health and Human Services campaign to mobilize community members to combat vaccine hesitancy, has gained 15,000 members since it was launched in the spring, according to Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Members include doctors, nurses, teachers, ministers and civilians across all 50 states who execute outreach in their community to encourage others to get vaccinated, Murthy said.

"I want to emphasize that every single vaccination is a win. It's one more person protected against the delta variant, and all of these conversations that our Community Corps members have been having, even those that don't end in vaccination, are essential to this effort. We've learned also that you don't have to have a degree in medicine or public health to have these conversations," Murthy said.

Employers That Don't Abide by New Vaccine Mandates Could Face Fines of $13,600 Per Violated

As the U.S. works to enact a new Department of Labor rule that employers with 100 or more employees must require their workforce to be vaccinated, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients said that fines could be leveraged against those who don't comply.

This could be up to $13,600 in fines per violation of the rule, Zients said.

Mu Variant Accounts for 0.5 Percent of Infections in U.S., Fauci Says

As concern grows in the American public over the growing Mu variant of COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the variant only accounts for 0.5 percent of isolates in the U.S. Additionally, the emerging C 1.2 variant accounts for 0 percent of isolates in the country.

He stated that the U.S. would continue to monitor the variants, but urged people to get vaccinated in what he described as "the most important thing we can do to protect against any variant."

Unvaccinated People About 4.5 Times More Likely to Get COVID, According to New CDC Study

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will publish a new study Friday that examined hospitalizations and death in 13 U.S. states and offer "further evidence on the power of vaccination," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

The study evaluated 600,000 COVID cases in relation to vaccination statuses. Unvaccinated people were found to be about four and a half times more likely to be infected with COVID, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to perish from the virus, Walensky said.

"The bottom line is this, we have the scientific tools we need to turn the corner on this pandemic. Vaccination works and will protect us from the severe complications of COVID-19. It will protect our children and allow them to stay in school for safe in-person learning," Walensky said.

Seven-Day Average of COVID Infections at Around 136K Per Day, CDC Director Says

The seven-day average of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. is about 136,000 new cases daily, with about 11,750 hospitalizations per day and more than 1,000 deaths per day, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Biden 'Dramatically Expanded the Reach' of Vaccine Requirements, Zients Said.

With President Joe Biden's Thursday announcement that about 100 million workers must get vaccinated against COVID-19, the president "dramatically expanded the reach of vaccine requirements" in the U.S., White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients said.

He said that Biden's vaccine requirement are "becoming the standard" for U.S. workers, and various individuals and organizations, including the Republican Gov. Bill Scott of Vermont, have voiced their support of his policies since their announcement.

"Vaccination requirements have been around for decades for diseases like polio smallpox and measles. They're widely supported, and importantly, they're proven to work," Zients said.

75 Percent of Americans Now Partially Vaccinated

Nearly 75 percent of Americans aged 12 and older are at least partially vaccinate, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients said during a briefing Friday.

More than 177 million Americans total are now fully vaccinated, he added.