President Joe Biden said on Monday that states should pause their efforts to reopen and return to normal and that state and local leaders should reimpose mask mandates in the areas that they are responsible for governing.
Biden made the remarks at a press conference about his administration’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic where he highlighted the progress that is being made in getting America vaccinated, a process that began under former President Donald Trump.
Biden’s remarks came after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said earlier in the day that she has a “recurring feeling” of “impending doom” because the trajectory of the pandemic in the U.S. currently looks similar to what Europe experienced several weeks ago before cases spiked.
“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared,” she said, later adding: “So I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director — not only as your CDC director but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer. I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done. We are just almost there but not quite yet. And so I’m asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends.”
Biden referenced the remarks that Walensky made, saying that America’s work was “far from over” and that the “war against COVID-19 is far from won” and that it remains “deadly serious.”
“We could still see a setback in the vaccination program,” Biden said. “And most importantly, if we let our guard down now, we could see a virus getting worse, not better. You know, as many people as we have vaccinated, we still have more Americans left to go. You know, we will administer more shots in March than any country on Earth. But even so, we have to give more shots in April than we did in March. Because we’re in the life and death race for the virus that is spreading quickly with cases rising again. New variants are spreading. And sadly, some of the reckless behavior we’ve seen on television over the past few weeks means that more new cases are to come in the weeks ahead.”
Biden warned that people were “letting up” in the fight against COVID-19, later adding, “I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor, and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate.”
“Please, this is not politics,” Biden claimed. “Reinstate the mandate if you let it down. And business should require masks as well. The failure to take this virus seriously — precisely what got us in this mess in the first place — risks more cases and more dests [sic] — deaths. Look, as I do my part to accelerate the vaccine distribution and vaccinations, I need the American people to do their part as well. Mask up. Mask up. It’s a patriotic duty.”
When asked by a reporter if he thinks that “some states should pause their reopening efforts,” Biden responded, “Yes.”
This article has been updated to include additional information.
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