Dec 15, 2021 - Health

Biden COVID official: "No need to lock down," even as cases surge

Picture of Jeff Zients
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday that there will be "no need" to shut down the U.S. economy "in any way," adding that the country has the tools necessary to fight the Omicron variant.

The big picture: There is an increase of coronavirus cases, driven by the Delta variant, across the country, and CDC director Rochelle Walensky has said that the number of Omicron cases is "likely to rise."

By the numbers: On Dec. 13, the U.S. recorded over 201,000 new cases and the seven-day average of cases reached 117,890, according to CDC data.

What he's saying: "We have the tools to fight this virus, including Omicron, and we're in a ... stronger place than we were a year ago and there's no need to lock down," Zients said.

  • "We have effective vaccines ... including against Omicron. We have booster shots for all adults. We have now a vaccine for kids age 5 [through] 11. That means we now have vaccines for 95% of Americans."
  • "We know how to keep our kids in school and our businesses open. And we're not going to shut down our economy in any way. We're going to keep our schools and our business open," he added.

Between the lines: Zients' message echoes that of President Biden last month, when he said that Omicron was "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic," and that the U.S. would continue to fight the virus "not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

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