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First Lady Jill Biden and Emmitt Smith visit Dallas vaccination site: “We’re not done yet”

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First Lady Jill Biden came to Dallas on Tuesday, promising the new normal is almost here – if only people would follow their COVID-19 shots.

“As far as we have come, we are not done yet,” she said during a visit to a vaccination site at Conrad High.

Joined by Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith at Northeast Dallas school, Biden watched one of his young football players receive his first vaccine – all as part of his efforts to support the push. national rights of her husband towards elusive objectives of collective immunity.

“You remember how quiet the streets were a year ago,” Biden told the crowd gathered in the school gymnasium. “You remember the empty aisles of grocery stores. And do you remember how uncertain and lonely many of us felt? We just didn’t know what was going on. Today, at last, we can get back to the things we love. Kiss the people we love. Meet friends face to face, smile at strangers.

The drive to motivate people to get vaccinated comes as Dallas County continues to fall behind vaccination benchmarks.

Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith (left) and First Lady Jill Biden speak with people in the viewing area on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, during a tour of the Emmett J. High School vaccination site. Conrad in Dallas. (Juan Figueroa / The Dallas Morning News)(Juan Figueroa / Personal photographer)

The number of doses administered each week in Dallas County has declined sharply since peaking at around 176,000 in early April. Last week, approximately 35,000 doses were distributed.

The president aimed for 70% of adults to receive at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4, which will be narrowly missed. According to the CDC, 66.2% of American adults have received at least one dose.

Nationwide health experts are also concerned about the risk that the delta variant poses to unvaccinated people.

Fears over the new variant in California have prompted health officials in Los Angeles County – the most populous in the country – to urge the indoor mask to be worn this week, even for people who have been vaccinated.

The delta variant, which was first identified in India, is of particular concern because it is highly transmissible, even more so than the alpha variant common in North Texas.

“The fact remains that if you are not vaccinated, no matter how old you are or how bad you are, you are still at risk of catching this virus, which means you are still at risk of contracting the virus. illness, to be hospitalized and potentially dying, ”said White House vaccine coordinator Dr. Bechara Choucair in an interview with Morning news this week.

The first lady and other surrogates for the president have been crisscrossing the country for several weeks as part of a big-name campaign to encourage more vaccinations, enlisting local celebrities to promote jabs and reduce hesitation.

Last week, Jill Biden joined country music’s Brad Paisley on a pop-up site in Nashville. Actress Jennifer Garner appeared with Biden on a site in West Virginia last month.

Smith’s appearance also served as an implied counterweight against other NFL stars – including former Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley – who have voiced their decision not to get the shot.

“It’s not a joke,” Smith said. “We have seen what this pandemic can do to people. … So this is serious business, and we must take it seriously.

Ahead of the first lady’s speech, Smith and Biden watched Conrad footballer Chase Walton receive his first dose of the vaccine, watched by his mother, Ramona Williams.

“Your mother had you,” Biden told Chase as his mother held her shoulders.

Across Texas, 57.3% of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 49.1% – or 11,825,042 people – are fully vaccinated, according to state data. Rates in Dallas County closely mirror those statewide: 57.5% of Dallas County residents have received a dose, while 48.9% are fully vaccinated.

In Dallas, zip codes in the northern part of the city have higher vaccination rates than those in the south, according to a Dallas Morning News review of census and vaccine data.

Later Tuesday, the First Lady will join Second Mister Douglas Emhoff at Minute Maid Park in Houston for a vaccination event with the Astros. They will be leaving on Wednesday for another vaccine event in Phoenix. This will be the first joint trip made by the first and second partners since the inauguration.

Authorities on Tuesday used an increasingly popular method to entice people to get vaccinated: price incentives. In Dallas, anyone 12 and over who got their chance at three sites on Tuesday – including the site Biden and Smith visited – received free passes to Six Flags.

“We have made big, big progress, and yet we know that there are still millions of people who need to be vaccinated, and for some of those people, an incentive would really work,” said Choucair, the coordinator. of vaccines from the White House, said. “So if that’s all it takes to get these people vaccinated, we’re going to do it.”

Editor Holly Hacker contributed to this report.