The president largely ignored governors who asked the administration for a path out of the pandemic and restoring some degree of normalcy to the daily life of Americans.
“We need to move away from the pandemic,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters at the White House on February 1 after meeting with Biden. “And we asked the President to help give us clear guidelines on how we can return to a greater state of normality.”
But Biden’s coronavirus team told reporters last week that they did not have a timeline for lifting restrictions, even as European countries began loosening their coronavirus policies.
“We will continue to reevaluate, and we know people are anxious,” Centers for Disease Control Rochelle Walensky said.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci said Biden’s team had to be “totally honest” about not knowing when the restrictions could be lifted.
“We can’t guarantee that there will not be another variant that challenges us, but the best that we can do with that is to be prepared for it,” he told reporters.
Fauci previewed “better, more advanced” vaccines that would ultimately help Americans continue fighting the coronavirus and its variants.
“I hope that it’s sooner rather than later — when, as you have said, this will not dominate our lives,” he said.
But governors of both parties are already exploring the idea of lifting restrictions.
Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) will make an official announcement Monday to eliminate masking requirements for students and employees in schools, according to reports.
In January, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) took a number of steps to end the school mask mandates in his state, despite resistance from Northern Virginia school officials.
Several countries in Europe have already beaten the United States on their timeline to loosen coronavirus restrictions and return to some degree of normalcy.
Late Friday night, Biden released a statement marking the deaths of 900,000 Americans from the virus, repeating his plea for the United States to “come together to protect one another” by getting vaccinated and a booster shot.
“After nearly two years, I know that the emotional, physical, and psychological weight of this pandemic has been incredibly difficult to bear,” he acknowledged.
But the White House has signaled no change or even a timeline for a change in the federal pandemic response.