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Photo: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday that he expects Americans will be having small get-togethers "well before" President Biden's July 4 target.

Catch up quick: Biden announced in a primetime address on Thursday that he was ordering states to make COVID-19 vaccines available to all residents by May 1, and set a goal for Americans to be able to safely congregate in small groups by the Fourth of July

  • But Gottlieb — who led the FDA under President Trump, now serves on Pfizer's board, and has been a leading public health voice throughout the pandemic — said on Friday: "I think we should be giving public health advice that is in line with where people are."
  • "[When] people feel the risk declining because they’ve been vaccinated, because they see infection levels going down in many parts of the country, they’re going to be willing to take more risk because they sense that their vulnerability is declining. And you know what? They’re right."

The big picture: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance this month that said fully vaccinated people can gather in small groups indoors — without masks — and still be safe.

  • But the agency has cautioned against travel, even for vaccinated Americans, and warned states not to lift restrictions too early out of concern for another coronavirus wave driven by new variants.
  • About 19% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, per CDC data. About 10% are fully vaccinated.

Go deeper

Heat wave grips U.S. this week from coast to coast

Computer model projection from the GFS model showing an unusually hot airmass across the western and Central U.S. on Thursday, June 29, 2021. (Weatherbell.com)

A widespread heat wave has begun across the contiguous U.S., with at least 30 million people likely to see temperatures reach or exceed 100°F by the end of the week.

Why it matters: The hot weather, which comes courtesy of another heat dome building across the Southwest, Rockies and then sliding into the western Plains, will only aggravate drought conditions and worsen many of the western wildfires.

VA first federal agency to require COVID vaccines for employees

A medical doctor gives the thumbs-up sign to a COVID-19 patient who is no longer using a respirator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York City. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday it would require its frontline health care workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus within the next two months, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The VA is the first federal agency to mandate that employees receive the vaccine. The decision comes as cases of the Delta variant in the U.S. have increased dramatically.

5 hours ago - Health

Biden: Americans with long-COVID symptoms may qualify for disability resources

President Biden speaking in Arlington, Virginia, on July 23. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Americans experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 may qualify for disability resources from the federal government, President Biden announced Monday during an event to mark the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Driving the news: The departments of Justice and Health and Human Services released new guidance Monday that categorizes “long COVID" as a physical or mental impairment, entitling people with the illness to discrimination protections under the the ADA.

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