Biden implores Americans to get vaccinated and stocks fall amid outbreaks in areas with low inoculation rates
Last modified on Tue 20 Jul 2021 11.07 BST
A rapid increase in coronavirus cases in the US and abroad is fueling fears of a pandemic resurgence and on Monday sent shockwaves through the stock market as the highly contagious Delta variant takes hold – and Joe Biden urged Americans to “please, please get vaccinated”.
The number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to Covid-19 have been rising worryingly in recent days, largely driven by outbreaks in parts of the country with low vaccination rates, as officials have been warning of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.
US stock indexes plunged as investors worried about the impact of the coronavirus on the economic recovery, and the president begged more people to get the shot even as he gave a speech on the economy that more broadly dismissed predictions of “doom and gloom” that electing him to office would bring about depression and the death of capitalism.
Biden said capitalism was alive and “very well”.
He noted that: “Six months into my administration, the US economy has experienced the highest economic growth rate in almost 40 years … Forecasters have doubled their projections for growth to 7% or higher … The US is the only developed country where growth projections today are stronger than they were before the pandemic hit.”
But Monday’s stock market selloff came as the Delta variant of the coronavirus continued to spread across the US and around the world.
Covid cases are now rising in all 50 US states and some cities are once again considering or already imposing mask mandates.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 725 points, or 2.1%, after losing 946 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 index lost 1.6% and the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 1.1%.
The available vaccines work against the Delta variant, but lab tests have shown them to be less effective than they were against the original form of coronavirus.
And Biden warned that the US recovery hinged on getting the pandemic under control, noting that four states with low vaccination rates accounted for 40% of all new coronavirus infections last week.
“So please, please get vaccinated,” Biden said. “Get vaccinated now.“
The average number of new Covid-19 cases per day has tripled in the past 30 days in the United States, according to an analysis of Reuters data. In the month from June 18 to Sunday, it climbed from 12,004 to 32,136.
And the average number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 has gone up 21% over the past 30 days to over 19,000, up from 16,000.
Deaths, which can lag weeks behind a rise in cases, rose 25% last week from the previous seven days with an average of 250 people dying a day.
Meanwhile, with the situation in the UK deteriorating, US citizens were warned against travel there.
The UK was placed on the highest level of the United States travel guidance – “Level 4: Very High” – on Monday, warning that even fully vaccinated travelers could be at risk.
The US federal agency the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the update on the day British prime minster Boris Johnson ended mask-wearing and social distancing laws, while reopening nightclubs.
The move will be a blow to Johnson after he sought to broker a way to reopen UK-US travel with Biden.
Americans were told to “avoid travel to the United Kingdom” but advised to make sure they are fully vaccinated if travel was essential.
“Because of the current situation in the United Kingdom, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants,” the US guidance added.
The UK joins countries including Brazil, South Africa and the Netherlands on Level 4.
India, Iran and Italy are among countries that have been badly hit by coronavirus but are a level lower on the US’s rating.
In Canada, officials announced that the US-Canadian border will begin reopening from 9 August to fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents, for the first time since the pandemic hit.
There was no word on when the US might admit Canadians for nonessential travel.