President Joe Biden praised Minnesota's COVID-19 vaccination efforts, as Gov. Tim Walz told him the state is on track to vaccinate 70% of people 16 and older by July 4.
Walz joined a White House virtual roundtable on Tuesday to discuss getting more people vaccinated. President Biden had said his administration's goal is to get 70% of adults in the U.S. vaccinated by the Fourth of July.
Joining Walz on the call were the governors of states with other high vaccination rates: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D).
“The governors with us today and their counterparts have been instrumental in helping us make progress more quickly than anyone would have thought,” President Joe Biden said, according to a news release.
“Governors in so many states, particularly the six that are here, have been essential partners in this effort. And they know it isn't about politics — it’s about saving lives and livelihood, rebuilding our economy, and getting us back to our way of life. So the idea that we have six of the best governors that have worked on this with me today is really a pleasure. And all of you have done remarkable job.”
Biden praised Walz's efforts to get people vaccinated, with Walz at one point during the roundtable with other states' governors joking that people should "go get vaccinated so you're alive to vote against me in the next election."
"My message to folks is there’s a lot of good reasons to get vaccinated, but for some of them, you know, if you need another one, go get vaccinated so you’re alive to vote against me in the next election,’ Walz said Tuesday. "I don’t care. I just want to get it done."
Walz explained the state has taken an approach to vaccines similar to what it does to get people to vote and fill out their Census — by sending in trusted partners in communities to urge people to get the vaccine and making it easy for people to get the shot.
He said this has been through a combination of community organizations going door-to-door, a public information campaign featuring "everyday Minnesotans," and the use of mobile vaccination buses that have been rolled out as part of the state's latest phase of the vaccine program.
Other governors on the call said they've been working to highlight milestones, like hugging people again, to get people to get the vaccine, while other states are offering free stuff, like hunting and fishing licenses, to those who've been vaccinated.
As of May 9, 60.5% of Minnesotans 16 and older have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. Walz has said the statewide mask mandate will be lifted by July 1, or sooner if 70% of Minnesotans are vaccinated.