WASHINGTON — President Biden on Friday said that 350 million Americans — more than the entire population of the US — have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a slip that was quickly seized upon as he departed for his 17th trip to Delaware since taking office.
Biden, wearing a tan suit, spoke about the need to continue vaccinating Americans after a surprisingly strong report showed the US economy created 943,000 jobs in July, exceeding expectations and dropping the unemployment rate to 5.4 percent.
“You know, we have roughly 350 million people vaccinated in the United States and billions around the world. And virtually no one has died because of that vaccinations [sic],” he said in the White House East Room.
“Today, about 400 people will die because of the Delta variant in this country — a tragedy because virtually all of these deaths are preventable if people had gotten vaccinated. But 10 months ago today almost 4,000 people died on that very day from COVID-19 — 4,000 versus 400. That shows how much our vaccination progress has done to protect us from the worst of the new Delta COVID-19 wave.”
Biden, 78, is often accused of being in mental decline and then-President Donald Trump made his cognitive fitness a central campaign issue last year.
The Republican National Committee circulated the clip of Biden’s error on Friday, tweeting, “WATCH: Joe Biden says 350 million Americans are vaccinated, over 100% of the U.S. population.”
“Full Metal Jacket” and “Independence Day” actor Adam Baldwin tweeted the video with the caption, “Your current U.S. President, ladies & gentlemen.”
“Why is this guy not in a nursing home?” another person wrote.
Biden almost certainly meant to say that about 350 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered, as is indicated by CDC data. But those doses were administered to about 193 million people. More than 70 percent of US adults have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot.
The president also called on the Senate to pass a pending bipartisan infrastructure bill that would cost roughly $1 trillion— of which $550 billion would be new spending over five years, which the Congressional Budget Office says would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. The bill could pass the Senate this weekend.
“As we did with the Transcontinental Railroad and the interstate highway system, we will soon once again transform America and propel us into the future,” he said.
Biden didn’t take questions from reporters either in the East Room or when he departed the White House shortly after for a weekend trip to Wilmington, Del. But his press aides pre-screened the reporters who were allowed to attend the president’s remarks in the spacious White House East Room, which at 2,960 square feet is the largest room in the executive mansion
Some outlets, including The Post, were told that the White House House was “unable to accommodate” them “due to spacing constraints,” despite the fact that the East Room is much larger than the 49-seat White House briefing room, where social distancing rules for COVID-19 ended in June.
The continued pre-screening of journalists at East Room events is widely understood as a way to shape the variety of questions that are posed to the often gaffe-prone Biden.