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Biden asks states to mandate masks, pause reopening after CDC director warns of ‘impending doom’ virus surge

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Colorado shooting, March 23, 2021. (White House/Released)
March 29, 2021

President Joe Biden asked states to reinstate mask mandates during a White House address Monday afternoon, calling wearing masks “a patriotic duty,” on the same day that CDC director Rochelle Walensky said COVID-19 was giving her a recurring feeling of “impending doom.”

“I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate. This is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down. And businesses should require masks, as well,” Biden said. “The failure to take this virus seriously, precisely what got us in this mess in the first place, risks more cases and more desks, 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,” the president added. “It’s the only way we ever get back to normal. To cheer together in stadiums full of fans. To gather together on holidays again safely. Go to graduations, weddings.”

During Monday’s address, Biden asserted that the “war on COVID-19 is far from over,” and condemned loosened restrictions.

“People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing. … We’re giving up hard-fought, hard-won gains,” he said.

When asked if some states should pause reopening efforts, President Biden said, “Yes.”

Also on Monday, Center for Disease Control director Rochelle Walensky said she had a recurring feeling of “impending doom” relating to concerns for another spike in COVID-19 cases.

“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,” Walensky said. “We have come such a long way. Three historical, scientific breakthrough vaccines, and we are rolling them out so very fast.”

“I’m speaking to you today not only as a CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, to ask you to just 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,” she continued. “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.”

Standing in stark contrast to the president’s call to action and CDC director’s warning, coronavirus cases in Texas dropped to a record low three weeks since the Lone Star State lifted its mask mandates and restrictions on businesses.

“Today, the 7-day Covid positivity rate dropped to a new recorded low: 4.95% Hospitalizations dropped to a 6 month low. This week we have 1 million 1st vaccines available,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted Sunday. “Everyone now qualifies for a shot. They are highly recommended to prevent getting Covid but always voluntary.”

As of March 29, it has been 379 days since “15 days to slow the spread” of coronavirus – an effort that included quarantine and lockdown to combat the pandemic – was introduced.