CDC chief urges Americans to ‘double down’ on COVID-19 prevention measures as states lift mask mandates

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to “double down” on COVID-19 prevention measures, even as some states are lifting mask mandates.

“I know the idea of relaxing mask wearing and getting back to everyday activities is appealing, but we’re not there yet,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 response team briefing Friday. “We have seen this movie before. When prevention measures, like mask mandates, are rolled back, cases go up.”

Walensky’s comments come as states like Texas and Mississippi – seeing a decline in infections and hospitalizations – started lifting mask mandates.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced an end to the state’s mask order Tuesday, and a move to do away with limits on the number of diners that businesses can serve indoors.

“It’s time to reopen Texas 100%,” the Republican governor said. “So that any business that wants to open can open.”

Mississippi also lifted its face-covering mandate on Tuesday.

President Biden called out the states’ Republican governors this week for what he deemed “Neanderthal thinking” in deciding to relax their COVID-19 restrictions.

Texas, Mississippi and Alabama are near the bottom of the list of states in the number of vaccines administered per capita, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The three states are also near the top of the list in the percentage of people who test positive for COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

As of Thursday, 34 U.S. states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, still mandate that residents wear masks in public.

President Joe Biden on Friday appointed two new members to the White House COVID-19 response team.

The president named Charles Anderson to serve as the team’s director of economic policy and budget, and Sam Berger to director of strategic operations and policy. Anderson most recently served in an advisory role on tax and economic policy to Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, while Berger held a leadership position at the Center for American Progress, a public policy research organization. Both Anderson and Berger also served in advisory roles within the Obama-Biden administration.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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