We will now shift to cover the coronavirus taskforce briefing, where public health officials are giving an update on the Omicron variant.
The CDC director, Dr Rochelle Walensky, begins by reminding Americans that while much of the coverage is focused on the Omicron variant, nearly all new cases in the United States were caused by the Delta variant.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the president, implored Americans to get vaccinated. While more information is needed to better understand the transmissibility and severity of the variant, Fauci said there was strong evidence to suggest vaccines would provide a degree of protection against it, citing in vitro studies that indicate the boosters increase â€œantibody titers against a wide range of variants.â€
â€œThereâ€™s every reason to believe that if you get vaccinated and boosted you would have at least some degree of cross protection, very likely against severe disease, even against the Omicron variant,â€ he said.
â€œThe Omicron variant is a cause for concern, not panic,â€ said Jeff Zients, the presidentâ€™s Covid-19 response coordinator, adding that vaccines â€œclearly remain our most important tool.â€
He said the US was making progress: 2.2m shots were administered on Thursday, the highest single day total since May.
Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, outlined the administrationâ€™s efforts to educate Americans about the importance of vaccines and combat the misinformation circulating online and on social media.
He said the administration was committed to trying all forms of communications â€“ email, phone banking, texts, podcasts, letters, social media, news paper ads â€“ â€œeverything short of carrier pigeonsâ€, he said. The information will also be published in several languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, Haitian Creole, Arabic and Russian.
â€œThe goal is really to leave no stone unturned as we seek to reach people with live saving information,â€ he said.
He also urged parents to vaccinate their children, as he did with his five-year-old son. He said his son was nervous about getting the shot, but was â€œall smiles after.â€