(AP) — A three-day forum focusing on the fight against COVID-19 opened on Monday with a focus on getting “vaccine confidence” out in the public.
Health officials are hoping to have the help of a variety of leaders around the country, including religious leaders to serve as community influencers to overcome what officials say is a persistent vaccine reluctance in the Black community.
“We are relying on extraodinary collaboration,” said Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
“To extend our reach, to diversify our voices, to get messages to people who will listen.”
Walensky’s comments come as President Joe Biden will mark the U.S. crossing 500,000 lives lost from COVID-19 with a moment of silence and candle lighting ceremony at the White House.
The nation is expected to pass the grim milestone on Monday, just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. fatality due to the novel coronavirus.
The White House says Biden will deliver remarks at sunset Monday to honor those who lost their lives.
He will be joined by first lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband.