Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.
As Americans celebrated the Fourth of July, President Joe Biden said the U.S. was emerging from the darkness of the pandemic but not fully clear, according to The New York Times.
He noted that COVID-19 variants still remain a threat, and he called for unvaccinated people to get a shot, calling it the "most patriotic thing" that Americans could do.
"Please, if you haven't gotten vaccinated, do it. Do it now. For yourself, for your loved ones, for your community and for your country," he said during a July 4 celebration at the White House.
"We never again want to be where we were a year ago today," he said.
The U.S. fell a little short of Biden's goal of getting 70% of adults to take at least one vaccine dose by July 4. More than 67% of ages 18 and older have received at least one dose, according to the latest CDC tally updated on Sunday. About 58% of adults are fully vaccinated.
Biden also reflected on the more than 600,000 Americans who have died during the pandemic and expressed gratitude to essential workers who helped the country's emergency response. The U.S. has reported nearly 34 million COVID-19 cases throughout the pandemic and more than 605,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Nationwide, the average of daily COVID-19 cases has remained steady at 12,000 per day, which is the lowest since testing became widely available, The New York Times reported. Daily COVID-19 deaths have also dropped to fewer than 300 per day.
Biden encouraged Americans to celebrate the progress made so far but also urged caution around the contagious delta variant, saying that vaccines were the "best defense" for the future.
"While the virus has not been vanquished, we know this: It no longer controls our lives, it no longer paralyzes our nation," he said. "And it is within our power to make sure it never does again."
The New York Times: "Biden Celebrates Progress Against Virus, but Acknowledges Hurdles Ahead."
C-SPAN: "President Biden Speaks at White House Fourth of July Celebration."
CDC: "COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States."
Johns Hopkins University: "Coronavirus Resource Center."