Seventy percent of American adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, officials said Monday, reaching a goal President Joe Biden had hoped to reach a month ago.
The goal was ambitious, but Monday's development is a good step, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
"We’ve said from the beginning: Even when we set this goal, our work would not be done even when we reached it, and so we're forging ahead," she said.
As of Monday, more than 180.7 million people in the U.S. ages 18 or older, or 70 percent, have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For those 12 years or older, the percentage is 67.6 percent. Younger children than that are not eligible to be vaccinated. A Food and Drug Administration official has said emergency use authorization for younger children could come by early to mid-winter.
The 70 percent mark was reached with Covid-19 cases rising across the country, fueled by the more transmissible delta variant.
The CDC recently recommended that everyone wear masks in indoor settings in areas where the coronavirus is spreading widely. The revised recommendation came in part because of evidence that fully vaccinated people who get infected with the variant can spread the virus just as easily as unvaccinated people.
The White House Covid-19 data director, Dr. Cyrus Shahpar, announced the 70 percent figure on Twitter, calling it "Milestone Monday" and encouraging people to get vaccinated.
Rising cases in Louisiana prompted Gov. John Bel Edwards to reinstate a statewide mask mandate Monday. The policy takes effect Wednesday, but Edwards urged people to begin wearing masks indoors immediately.
Edwards said the state is "in an unchecked COVID surge" and blamed Louisiana's low vaccination rate. Around 37 percent of state residents are fully vaccinated, according to numbers compiled by NBC News.
Louisiana is the first state to bring back a statewide mask mandate. Some counties, including Los Angeles County in California, have also done so. On Monday, most counties in the San Francisco Bay Area also reinstated mask requirements.
Edwards, a Democrat, acknowledged that masks and mask mandates can be unpopular, but said it was the responsibility of Louisianians to do what they can to slow the spread. He asked those who would refuse if they've paid attention to the rising number of cases and deaths and asked, "do you give a damn?"
Edwards said that Louisiana has the highest number of new cases per capita in the nation. He said this current wave is the worst one yet, and that Tuesday officials will report the more hospitalizations than at any other time in the pandemic.
"This is bad, and it's not this bad anywhere else in the country today," Edwards said.
Health officials have stressed that the vaccines are the best way to protect against the coronavirus, including the delta variant, and that they keep people from getting seriously ill or dying.
Also Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced that he has tested positive for Covid-19. He is vaccinated, and he credited that for the mildness of his symptoms.
More than 617,000 people in the U.S. have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to an NBC News count of reports.