Biden visits CDC, concern grows over new COVID-19 variants

President Joe Biden traveled to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta to celebrate the progress in ramping up vaccine distribution. The United States has officially surpassed administering 100 million doses of the vaccine during Mr. Biden's first 100 days in office. But as the pace of the vaccine rollout ramps up, concerns grow over new COVID-19 variants. Natalie Brand reports.

Video Transcript

- As part of President Biden's trip to Georgia, he traveled to the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. His visit coincided with the CDC issuing new relaxed COVID guidelines for social distancing in classrooms in an effort to get more schools reopened around the country. On Friday, the president also met his goal of getting 100 million coronavirus vaccines administered in his first 100 days in office, more than a month ahead of schedule.

To date, more than 77 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 41 million now fully vaccinated. The pace of the vaccine rollout is also ramping up to an average of about 2 and 1/2 million a day. But health experts are warning of some hot spots potentially ticking up. Natalie Brand has more from the White House.

JOE BIDEN: This is a war, and you are the front line troops.

NATALIE BRAND: President Biden and Vice President Harris praised CDC staffers on the same day the administration reached a key milestone ahead of schedule.

JOE BIDEN: We just met my goal of administering 100 million shots before my first 100 days in office. We did it in about 60 days.

NATALIE BRAND: But the country's top health experts acknowledged the challenges ahead, including an uptick in new cases, partly due to the new COVID variants.

ANTHONY FAUCI: It has been detected in 50 jurisdictions in the United States and likely accounts now for about 20% to 30% of the infections in this country. And that number is growing.

NATALIE BRAND: A concern for some educators as the CDC issues new guidance for schools to get students back into the classroom, now recommending masked students remain just 3 feet apart instead of 6, with the exception of those in middle and high schools in areas with high COVID transmission.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: We are following the science, and we have done the science-- and we've seen the science to make-- to ensure that this is safe for those schools.

RANDI WEINGARTEN: The studies thus far on-- on distancing have been pretty muddled.

NATALIE BRAND: The American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten says the union is reserving judgment for now.

Why not trust the CDC's guidance?

RANDI WEINGARTEN: We have to figure out, in all these schools right now, which have been set up for 6 feet physical distancing, how this is going to work.

NATALIE BRAND: And the updated CDC guidance says that 6 feet distancing still should be maintained between adults-- that's teachers and staffers-- and then adults and children and at times when masks cannot be worn. And the CDC notes it's really up to schools, in collaboration with state and local health officials, to determine how to implement its considerations and to what extent. Michelle.

- Natalie, thank you so much.