Further lockdowns or travel restrictions ‘totally up to Americans’ says HHS Secretary


CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra warned that whether or not another lockdown or travel restrictions are put in place is, “totally up to Americans.”

“That is a question totally up to those Americans who aren’t taking on their personal responsibility. But it’s up to us to win this fight. If we don’t do this as a team. I guarantee you we’re going to face it or pay the price,” Becerra said.

His comments came during an interview with NewsNationNow.com in which he addressed growing concerns over the delta variant as well as vaccine hesitancy.

While 71% of Americans have received a COVID-19 dose, there are still tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans.

“The way you counter anyone who says [you] can’t trust [the vaccine] is to take a look at the actual facts on the ground… Perhaps the most compelling fact to me, the fact that more than 99% of the people today who are dying [are] the people who are unvaccinated. I think the facts speak very loudly that these vaccines are safe, and they are effective,” Becerra stated.

COVID-19 case numbers have surged across the U.S. with the delta variant, but especially in states with less vaccinated residents.

Florida, where COVID-19 hospitalizations surpassed the pandemic’s worst previous surge in late July and show no signs of letting up, set a new record of 13,600 on Monday, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More than 2,800 of them required intensive care. At the height of last year’s summer surge, there were more than 10,170 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Becerra said his biggest concern is the rise in cases intersecting with kids going back to school.

“We want every child to go back to learning in person, we want every child to be safe, we want every teacher to be safe. The last thing we need is to see this delta variant take total hold of our communities, including through our kids,” Becerra said. “And while children have been very, very strong and fighting through this, the fact is that more and more kids are becoming infected, more and more kids are going to the hospital.”

He wouldn’t give a timetable for when he believes the Food and Drug Administration will approve the vaccine for children 12 and under, but he did stress that, “The FDA is trying to move as quickly as [it] can.”

“We have to be patient because the science moves at its own pace. And we have to make sure that these scientific facts are reliable, so that way we could put them before the American people and people can trust we have very strong confidence about the word from FDA,” Becerra stated.

Watch the full interview in the player above

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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