Thaddeus Swanek Thaddeus Swanek
Senior Writer and Editor, Strategic Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


July 22, 2021


This week’s Path Forward event featured Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero and Polling Expert Kathy Frankovic in discussion with U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark.

The Path Forward, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation event series, helps business and community leaders find the answers they need to execute a responsible reopening strategy for a post-pandemic world.

What happened?
During the discussion, Dr. Romero highlighted the surge of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, staffing shortages at hospitals in his state, and why the vaccines are safe and effective despite emergency use authorizations. Frankovic discussed which groups are more likely to be skeptical about getting the vaccines and what—if anything—would convince them to change their minds.

What the experts are saying:

  • “Amid the rise of the highly transmissible Delta variant, cases are increasing across the country. Unsurprisingly, we’ve seen some of the most significant spikes in areas with lagging vaccination rates. As we’ve been reminded throughout the past year and a half, COVID-19 won’t be defeated anywhere until it is defeated everywhere.” – Suzanne Clark, president and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • “We’ve seen a significant increase over the last seven weeks and it coincides with our detection of the Delta variant…Across the state, 72% of all of the variants identified were of the Delta type.” – Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero
  • “We have increased hospitalizations…increased number of individuals on ventilators, and individuals perishing from the infection have doubled on a daily basis.” – Dr. Jose Romero
  • “98% or 99% of the hospitalizations occur in individuals who are not vaccinated.” – Dr. Jose Romero
  • “The surge is here…We have [hospital] beds available, but part of the major problem is that we don’t have the staffing available to staff those beds…We are at the state now where we could reach a point where we are not going to be able to staff those beds.” – Dr. Jose Romero
  • “These are very safe vaccines, they’ve been studied well…FDA has the data and we haven’t seen any signals that are going to make the FDA not license these vaccines into the future.” – Dr. Jose Romero
  • “These vaccines have been accelerated, but they have not sacrificed safety.” – Dr. Jose Romero
  • “A consistent 20% of the population say they have no intention to get vaccinated. It doesn’t change, it’s pretty much the same number every week. You add to that another 11% who say they aren’t sure what they’re going to do.” – Polling Expert Kathy Frankovic
  • “If you ask them directly if there was anything that would change their mind about getting the vaccine only five percent say ‘yes.’ The vast majority say nothing will change their mind.” – Kathy Frankovic

What you can do:
Please consider joining the Rally for Recovery Commitment, a U.S. Chamber-led program encouraging every company and organization to take three basic, but important, steps to get the country back to health and American workers back to work.

And if you’re looking to get vaccinated, visit to find a vaccination site near you!

Up next:
Please join future Path Forward events to learn how to better protect you workers, customers, coworkers, and friends from the spread of coronavirus.

Additional resources:

About the authors

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus is a senior writer and editor with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's strategic communications team.

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