President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden shared well-wishes with Americans celebrating Easter on Sunday and encouraged them to get Covid-19 vaccinations as a moral obligation.
“We share the sentiments of Pope Francis who said that getting vaccinated is a moral obligation, one that can save your life and the lives of others,” the President said in a video posted on his Twitter account. “By getting vaccinated and encouraging your congregations and your communities to get vaccinated, we not only can beat this virus, we can also haste the day when we can celebrate the holidays together.”
The first lady said there is “hope all around us” and mentioned families receiving financial help, businesses recovering and an increase in Americans receiving vaccinations against the virus.
The message from the Bidens comes as health officials race to vaccinate as many Americans as possible amid concern over a potential fourth wave of coronavirus infections. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Saturday that more than 4 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine had been reported administered in 24 hours, setting a new record and bringing the seven-day average to more than 3 million a day.
Across the country, about 165 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered, according to data published Sunday by the agency. About 32% of the population – 106 million people – have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 18.5% of the population – about 61 million people – have been fully vaccinated. Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported.
Biden is the second Catholic president in US history, and weekly Mass is expected to be a fixed part of his schedule. That’s a level of devotion to regular religious services not seen from recent presidents, who were professed Christians but intermittently attended church or worshipped privately while in office.
The President, who is spending the holiday at Camp David with his family, empathized with families across the country who are not celebrating together because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The virus is not gone and so many of us still feel the longing and loneliness of distance,” Biden said. “For a second year, most will be apart from their families, friends, full congregations that fill us with joy. Yet as the Gospel of John reminds us, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Vice President Kamala Harris also released a video wishing the country a happy Easter, saying there is “always reason for hope.”
“Today, we are celebrating hope and our faith in renewal. Hope in the number of people now vaccinated, now safer from this virus,” Harris said. “Hope in the children who are going back to school for the first time in a year. Hope in the grandparents who are able to hug their grandchildren for the first time in a year. Hope for a brighter tomorrow for us all.”
She added that next year, Biden and the first lady are looking forward to starting the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll that was canceled once again because of the pandemic.
This story has been updated.
CNN’s Chandelis Duster, Madeline Holcombe, Ray Sanchez and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.