Health Care

Biden Says States Should Pause Reopening Efforts

President Biden speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 29, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Joe Biden on Monday indicated he believes states should pause their reopening efforts as COVID cases have begun to rise after weeks of decline.

As Biden exited a COVID response press briefing on Monday, a reporter asked if he believed some states should pause their reopening efforts. Biden responded only, “yes,” before exiting the room.

Biden’s comment comes hours after Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she has a feeling of “impending doom” that the country is on the verge of another wave of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.

COVID cases have risen by 15 percent in the past two weeks, according to the New York Times, while hospitalizations and deaths have fallen by 5 and 29 percent, respectively.

“I’m going to pause here, I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” she said. “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.”

Biden said he “shares the sentiment” that Walensky expressed.

“The CDC expressed earlier today that this is not a time to lessen our efforts. That’s what she said. We could still see a setback in the vaccination program and most importantly, if we let our guard down now, we could see it getting worse not better,” he said.

As vaccine distribution in the U.S. has ramped up, a number of states have begun to roll back COVID restrictions. Some states, such as Texas and Mississippi, have allowed businesses to reopen at full capacity while rescinding their statewide mask mandates. Others have loosened, but not yet fully removed restrictions.

Biden initially responded to the news that Texas and Mississippi would be lifting state-wide mask mandates and allowing businesses to open at 100 percent capacity by arguing that the decisions are the product of “neanderthal thinking.”

“I hope everyone has realized by now these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease,” Biden said earlier this month.

“The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it,” the president added. “It’s critical, critical, critical that they follow the science….Wear a mask and stay socially distanced. I know you all know that. I wish to heck some of our elected officials knew it.”

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