US President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday ruled out a nationwide shutdown to fight COVID-19, but insisted on a national mask mandate as part of the efforts to prevent the spread of the deadly virus which has so far taken the lives of 2,50,000 Americans.
No national shutdown because every region, area and community can be different. And so there is no circumstance which I can see that would require a total national shutdown. I think that would be counterproductive, but there are constraints in which the degree to which businesses can be open, he told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, after a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors.
Biden said he would follow the science. I am not going to shut down the economy period. I am going to shut down the virus, he asserted.
For example, it is one thing to say that you can have in a state that–where the infection rate is not as high, you can have a gymnasium open. It is another thing to say it can be only open four hours a day with X number of people. The church I go to, my Catholic Church they do not allow more than 40 per cent of people to come into the church. Those are rational decisions. It is not shutting down everything; it is calibrating based on what the threat is, he explained.
Biden said he discussed the implementation of a national mask mandate in the meeting with the governors. Ten governors, Democrat and Republican, have imposed masking requirements and recognised the need for universal masking. North, South, East and West. It is not a political statement. It is a patriotic duty, he said.
The President-elect also discussed the challenges involved in distributing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine. We have to actually get vaccinations into the arms of 330 million Americans. That takes enormous resources, people and product. We discussed the difficulty of that task. It is going to take time and coordination. It is going to take the federal government and state governments to work together, he said.
All the governors emphasised that they need to be clear with the American people about what to expect, he said. No false expectations. Let them know what we anticipate. They all acknowledge that this is going to take a massive public education campaign. We also need to reach traditionally underserved communities that are being hardest hit by the pandemic, black, brown, Latino, Latin American community, Native American communities, small towns and rural communities, Biden said.
I asked the National Governors Association through the Governor Cuomo and the ones on the line I said let us know what the shortages are, he said. The leader rued that a delay in transition would have an impact on his plan of action on COVID-19.
until the head of the GSA says that we in fact, our team, this Transition Team, are the likely winners, until she does that we do not have access to all the information that we need to get from all the various agencies, he said. We are not able to deal with everything from testing to guidance to the all-important issue of vaccine distribution and, even more importantly, vaccination plan to actually get vaccinations. We have not been able to get into Operation Warp Speed, but we will take what we have learned today and build it into our planning, Biden added.
First Published: IST