Tags: Biden Administration | Coronavirus | cdc | rochelle walensky | masks | texas | abbott

CDC Director Urges Mask Wearing Regardless of Governors' Orders

walensky in a black suit and pearl necklace
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 03 March 2021 01:17 PM

Federal health officials called on Texas and Mississippi residents to keep wearing masks as governors there lift COVID-19 restrictions, saying it’s premature to abandon mitigation efforts and that the virus can still erupt again.

Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday that though cases have halted their decline from January highs, it’s not yet time to lift restrictions.

“I think we, the CDC, have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions,” Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 press briefing, when asked about the reopening in Texas. She encouraged people across the U.S. to keep wearing masks and practice social distancing. “Every individual is empowered to do the right thing here, regardless of what states decide.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday that the state would lift its mask mandate and reopen businesses next week while banning counties from fining or jailing people who disregard local measures, in so doing defying previous warnings from Walensky and others.

Mississippi also announced that it would lift county mask mandates as of Wednesday, and businesses could operate at full capacity.

Encouraging Masks

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki echoed Walensky and said President Joe Biden would “raise this the next opportunity he has” to speak with the governors. She encouraged people to continue to wear masks and take other steps to slow the virus.

“He believes and he’s hopeful that people in these states will continue to follow the guidelines that have been set out, and the recommendations made by health and medical experts,” Psaki said at a briefing Wednesday. “We’re asking people to listen to health and medical experts, the CDC, to Dr. Fauci.”

“This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignore the science when it comes to the pandemic,” Psaki said at the briefing.

The remarks come as COVID-19 cases and deaths have halted their decline from January, yet remain at stubbornly high levels.

New variants are also spreading and are more easily transmitted — and some reduce the efficacy of vaccines. The U.S. will have enough doses by the end of May to vaccinate all U.S. adults, though will likely vaccinate everyone who wants one before that.

Biden announced Tuesday that teachers, school workers and child-care workers this month would receive priority for the vaccine, spurring states to make moves to adjust. Some people will be bumped down the line in eligibility as a result.

© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


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Federal health officials called on Texas and Mississippi residents to keep wearing masks as governors there lift COVID-19 restrictions, saying it's premature to abandon mitigation efforts and that the virus can still erupt again. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the...
cdc, rochelle walensky, masks, texas, abbott
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2021-17-03
Wednesday, 03 March 2021 01:17 PM
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