“There’s no return to normalcy for us,” said Sabila Khan, 42, of Jersey City, N.J., who created a Facebook support group after her father died of Covid-19. “It’s very nerve-racking when the government is encouraging you to just move beyond it. We lost our loved ones. We are never moving past this.”
White House officials said Mr. Biden was hardly declaring victory or “mission accomplished,” but simply wanted to take stock of the gains the United States had made against the virus since he took office.
“The Fourth of July is a moment for us to step back and celebrate our progress,” Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters on Thursday. At the same time, he said, “There’s a lot more work to do. So we’re going to double down our efforts to keep pushing more and more people to get vaccinated.”
The United States has made significant progress against the pandemic since Mr. Biden took office on Jan. 20 warning of a “dark winter” ahead. Daily reports of new cases are holding steady at about 12,000, the lowest since testing became widely available, according to a New York Times database — down from about 200,000 on Inauguration Day.
For the first time since March 2020, the country is averaging fewer than 300 newly reported deaths a day, a decline of about 20 percent over the past two weeks. Hospitalizations are also dropping.
But the advances have been uneven, with a large portion of U.S. cases emerging in a handful of hot spots, particularly where vaccination rates are low. Las Vegas, rural Utah, rural Arkansas, Cheyenne, Wyo., and the Missouri Ozarks are among the places with upticks. And because the national trend lines are flat, experts do not know precisely which way they will go.
“If you looked a couple of weeks ago, most of those projections were trending downwards; it looked like we were sailing into summer,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas at Austin. “Those projections now have flatlined. We’re not necessarily seeing an indication yet that things are going to surge in parts of the country, but we aren’t sure what’s going to happen.”