Senior officials in the Biden administration are weighing whether to recommend that states and communities with low vaccination rates re-enforce mask regulations, especially indoors, as part of a discussion on how the government can take more measures to curb the spread of the Delta variant.
According to four people familiar with the matter, officials from the White House and health agencies discussed this option at a meeting on Sunday when Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations surged in the South and Midwest. A sense of urgency. In the White House and all health agencies, about the most contagious variants and their ability to change the course of the pandemic.
Biden’s senior health officials have been debating in recent days whether companies, medical institutions, and other institutions should be encouraged to request Covid-19 vaccination certificates as a condition for returning to work because they fear that the Delta strain will continue to increase the number of infections in the next few months, two people said.
The high-level dialogue emphasized the extent to which the government is working to find new and more effective ways to protect Americans living in communities with rising infection rates.
But officials are divided into the pros and cons of issuing new federal guidelines, and some worry that they will be politicized and encourage new Republican attacks. The camp believes that the recommended vaccination test will increase the scope of the “vaccine passport”, which is an increasingly powerful conservative topic, and will alienate and stigmatize parts of the country where people choose not to be vaccinated. They worry that calls for the re-implementation of the mask regulations will be futile.
“It’s political,” one of the people said. “They think people like [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis and company are just waiting for the White House to announce some kind of vaccine mandate and then they’re going to jump on it for political reasons.”
Some medical officials in the White House Covid team have been pushing for measures such as vaccine verification. They think they can change the country’s slow immunization work, at least put pressure on officials. State and local authorities are considering repatriating some participants in the Sunday meeting. They said that politically, states and jurisdictions are required to implement strict mask-wearing guidelines and social distancing recommendations, rather than publicly providing evidence that people have been vaccinated. Taking a stand is easier, even if it means reversing the previous topic about wearing masks.
The White House declined to comment on the meeting. The Washington Post first reported last week that the government is actively considering recommending that Americans wear masks again.
Biden’s health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been discussing the issuance of new vaccination guidelines for Americans, including recommendations for vaccination testing and re-implementation of mask regulations. A senior government official with direct knowledge of the matter said that they have been working hard to collect data on Delta variants to help support these policy decisions.