President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he did not believe he had the power to intervene in U.S. states that have banned mask mandates but said his administration was looking into the issue.
"I don't believe that I do thus far," Biden said when asked if he had the power to intervene. "We're checking that."
The Republican governors of Florida and Texas have issued executive orders banning local school systems from implementing mask mandates, something Biden said he finds "a little disingenuous."
"When I suggest that people in zones where there is a high risk, where the masks like you all are doing, I'm told the government should get out of the way and not do that. Don't have the authority to do that," Biden said.
"And I find it interesting that some of the very people that are saying that that hold government positions are people who are threatening that if a school teacher asks a student if they have been vaccinated," he continued. "Or if a principal says that everyone in my school should wear a mask or the school board votes for it, that governor will nullify that. That governor has the authority to say you can't do that. I find that totally counterintuitive and quite frankly disingenuous."
Biden said he is "deeply concerned" about schools being able to remain open when asked by a reporter about children under age 12 who are unable to be vaccinated testing positive for COVID-19.
"I understand that there are millions of ... adults who decided not to get vaccinated," he said. "I understand [that] to badger those folks is not likely to get them to move and get vaccinated. But I also understand that the reason children are becoming infected is because [in] most cases they live in low vaccination rate states and communities. They're getting it from unvaccinated adults. … So my plea is that for those that are not vaccinated, think about it."
Biden said he hopes the Food and Drug Administration will soon give full approval to the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used. Many who have been hesitant say they don't trust their safety since they have been approved only for emergency use.
In the meantime, he urged the unvaccinated to think of those too young to be vaccinated.
"I think that people should understand, seeing little kids, 4 or 5, 6 years old in hospitals on ventilators and some of them passing, not many, but some of them passing, it's almost -- well, I shouldn't characterize it beyond that," he said.
Information from Bloomberg News was used for this report.
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