US president Joe Biden warned that "hard work" lies ahead to tackle the coronavirus pandemic as he urged all Americans to get vaccinated.
Speaking in the East Room of the White House following the publication of strong economic numbers, Mr Biden said the data showed that his administration's economic strategy was working.
“While our economy is far from complete and while we will doubtless have ups and downs along the way as we continue to battle the Delta surge of Covid, what is indisputable now is the Biden plan is working, the Biden plan produces results, and the Biden plan is moving the country forward,” the president said, shortly before leaving for Delaware for the weekend.
US labour department data on Friday showed that 923,000 jobs were created in July – a higher number than had been expected, and the latest signal that the US economy is rebounding, despite the threat of the Delta Covid variant.
Employers across the country have reported difficulties in attracting workers, leading critics of Mr Biden’s economic strategy to blame what they see as overgenerous pandemic payments. The labour market squeeze has also pushed wages higher, a trend welcomed by the president.
Mr Biden again warned that the United States was facing the prospect of a "pandemic of the unvaccinated", as Covid case numbers rise.
“My message today is not one of celebration. It’s one to remind us we got a lot of hard work left to be done both to beat the Delta variant and to continue our advance of economic recovery,” he said.
The United States is now registering more than 100,000 Covid-19 cases per day, compared to around 13,000 a month ago. Though hospitalisation numbers and deaths are lower than at the height of the pandemic, some parts of the country such as Florida are experiencing rising demand for hospital beds.
More than 12,000 people are currently hospitalised in Florida with Covid-19, the highest level in the state since the pandemic began. However, in a positive development, vaccination numbers are on the rise in recent weeks, with 821,000 vaccinated nationwide on Thursday alone.
Mr Biden emphasised the progress that had been made in the US’s response to the pandemic, noting that 4,000 Americans were dying a day during the height of the crisis. But he noted that now around 400 people will die each day – “a tragedy, because virtually all of these deaths were preventable if people had gotten vaccinated,” he said.
Mr Biden also called on state and local officials to disburse up to $45 billion (€38 billion) in aid for renters which has been approved by Congress over the past year and is available to those in need. In a U-turn this week, the White House agreed to extend by 60 days an eviction moratorium that expired last weekend despite previously arguing that it was prohibited from doing so because of a recent supreme court ruling. Three Democratic members of Congress slept on the steps of the US Capitol last weekend to protest against the ending of the pandemic measure.