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POTUS Caught Between Protecting Americans And Pleasing Them Over COVID Response

POTUS Caught Between Protecting Americans And Pleasing Them Over COVID Response

Joe Biden is not faking mask-wearing

Facing growing pressure to ease up on pandemic restrictions, the White House insisted on Wednesday it is making plans for a less-disruptive phase of the national virus response. But impatient states, including Democratic New York, made clear they aren’t waiting for Washington as public frustration and weariness seem to have reached a breaking point.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that New York will end its COVID-19 mandate requiring face coverings in most indoor public settings — but will keep it for schools. Illinois announced the same. Earlier this week, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware all disclosed plans to join states that have lifted or never had mask requirements for their schools, and Massachusetts will follow suit at the end of the month. Oregon Governor Kate Brown also announced her state’s plans to be mask-free by no later than March 31st, and sooner if hospitalizations drop off enough. All but Massachusetts have governors who are Democrats, like President Joe Biden.

The President, caught in the middle of several different issues at once regarding the government’s role in and response to the COVID epidemic, finds himself trying to appease a weary nation while also still maintaining his concern for the nation’s overall health. President Biden has sworn to “follow the science” in confronting the pandemic and therefore waits for fresh guidance from federal health officials, who so far still recommend that nearly all Americans wear masks in most indoor settings.

This is a stark change from his predecessor, who eschewed all public protections during the last months of his administration. Defending President Biden, White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged that while people are tired of masks and “we understand where the emotions of the country are,” the administration is following the advice of medical experts who rely on scientific evidence. “That doesn’t move at the speed of politics; it moves at the speed of data,” she said.

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Clearly feeling the pressure, the White House for the first time acknowledged movement in its planning, saying conversations have been underway privately to develop plans for guiding the country away from the emergency phase of the pandemic. “We are working on that guidance,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a White House teleconference Wednesday. “As we’ve been encouraged by the current trends, we are not there yet.”

Despite the encouraging reports in the Americas, Western Europe, and some other regions, the head of the World Health Organization insisted Wednesday that “COVID isn’t finished with us.”

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