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US hits 70% COVID-19 vaccination goal — a month later than Biden had hoped to

More than 180.7 million Americans 18 years or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC.
/ Source: NBC News

Seventy percent of American adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, officials said Monday, reaching a goal that President Joe Biden had hoped to reach a month ago.

Biden had said he wanted to hit that mark by July 4.

The goal was ambitious, but Monday's development is a good step, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

"But we’ve said from the beginning: Even when we set this goal, our work would not be done even when we reached it, and so we're forging ahead," she said.

As of Monday, more than 180.7 million Americans 18 years or older, or 70%, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For those 12 years or older, that percentage is 67.6%. Children younger than that are not eligible for the vaccination. A Food and Drug Administration official has said that emergency use authorization for younger children could come by early to mid-winter.

People receive COVID-19 vaccinations in California's San Fernando Valley on Aug. 2, 2021.Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group / Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

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The 70% mark was reached with COVID-19 cases rising across the country, fueled by the more transmissible delta variant.

The CDC recently recommended that everyone wear masks in indoor settings in areas where the coronavirus is spreading widely. The revised recommendation came in part because of evidence that fully vaccinated individuals who get infected with the variant can spread the virus just as easily as unvaccinated people.

White House COVID-19 Data Director Dr. Cyrus Shahpar announced the 70% figure on Twitter, calling it "Milestone Monday" and encouraging people to get vaccinated.

Rising cases in Louisiana prompted Gov. John Bel Edwards on Monday to reinstate a statewide mask mandate. The policy takes effect Wednesday, but the governor urged people to begin wearing masks indoors immediately.

Edwards said the state is "in an unchecked COVID surge" and blamed Louisiana's low vaccination rate. Around 37% of state residents are fully vaccinated, according to numbers compiled by NBC News.

Louisiana is the first state to bring back a statewide mask mandate. Some counties, including Los Angeles County in California, have also done so. On Monday, most counties in the San Francisco Bay Area also reinstated mask requirements.

Health officials have stressed that the vaccines are the best way to protect against the coronavirus, including the delta variant, and that they keep someone from getting seriously ill or dying.

Also on Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He is vaccinated, and credited that for the mildness of his symptoms.

More than 617,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to an NBC News count of reports.

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.