Biden Administration extends mask mandate with subvariant cases rising
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As certain areas of the country see a spike in COVID-19 cases, leaders are trying to figure out how to prevent another nationwide surge. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday it is extending a mask mandate for traveling from April 18 to May 3.
“They’re doing it based on the recommendations of their scientists and data,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the new White House coronavirus response coordinator.
The update to the guidance comes as parts of the northeast see spikes in cases with the highly transmissible Omicron BA. 2 variant circulating.
“The big question in front of us is, ‘What’s going to happen next? Are we going to see a substantial increase in hospitalizations and deaths? Or is this going to not follow that pattern? We just don’t know right now,” said Dr. Jha.
Should a nationwide surge occur, Dr. Jha says the Biden Administration is working to bolster stockpiles of tests, vaccines, and protective equipment.
Jha is optimistic if a surge comes, it will not be as bad as the initial omicron surge in December and January. But, Jha says more funding is needed from Congress to ensure the country is fully prepared. Lawmakers are in the first week of a two-week break.
“Congress, when they come back from recess, they’re going to have to take this up. Because a lack of funding means we’re not going to have enough vaccines for people. We’re not going to have treatments for people,” said Dr. Jha.
A bipartisan $10 billion COVID package stalled in the Senate before lawmakers went on break. The package would include money for things like testing, therapeutics, and vaccines.
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