The Biden administration's COVID task force held a briefing on Wednesday, and took questions on the states that have declared that they will full reopen, and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki shared the concerns of the task force and urged people in newly reopening states not to abandon the mask mandates.
When asked about Texas, which per Governor Greg Abbott is "reopening 100 percent," said that the president's recommendation on masking was due to guidance that suggested that it could say 50,000 lives.
"That's why he's asked the American people to wear masks for 100 days. For nearly a year, we've been dealing and navigating and coping with this pandemic across the country. And this entire country has paid the price for political leaders who have ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic."
"There's still more work to be done, we need to remain vigilant," Psaki said.
When asked what people are supposed to do who hear conflicting guidance from local and federal leaders, Psaki said that "We're not asking people just to listen to the president, of course we recommend that, but we're asking people to listen to health experts, medical experts, the CDC, Dr. Fauci, on others who are basing their recommendations on saving people's lives.
The COVID response team was asked earlier on Wednesday "what is happening behind the scenes" to try to make sure that states don't abandon the mask mandates and launch into full reopenings.
"We are in constant conversation with the states, and suffice it to say that there are plenty of people, health officials as you know, in every state, who feel it is the wrong time to lift the mask mandate. I know it seems counter-intuitive," the COVID response spokesperson said.
"To folks to hear good news with the coming of vaccines, and the acceleration of vaccines. We know as Dr. Walensky has said that people are tired and eager for this to be over. But even though it's counter-intuitive it's the most important time for people to make sure we run through the tape and finish this up. I think that's a commonly shared sentiment not just from us but public health experts. Hopefully the country will continue to rally together."
NBC's Kristen Welker asked the COVID response team "is there anything the federal government can do, is there anything that your team is looking to do to try to encourage if not mandate that these states reverse course?"
"I think we have the same answer with regard to our view on masks and what the president is saying and doing on masks," said the COVID response team, "I think we are using the full extent of all of the areas where we have federal control and we are actively, actively being very, very clear on what we think needs to happen. And so we hope that other elected officials who have authority in their domains will in fact listen. We're realistic recognize that everyone's not going to pay attention to everything we say but we think it's very important."
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