On Day 68, the White House underscored fear and duty in a push to double down on coronavirus mitigation.
Biden Wants States To Mask Up and Close Up.
On the heels of an emotional, off-script, “not necessarily as your CDC director” outpouring from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky that foretold “impending doom,” President Joe Biden called for states that have lifted mask mandates to reimpose them.
“I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate,” the president said in a virtual meeting with governors and local leaders. “Please, this is not politics, reinstate the mandate if you let it down . . . Look, as I do my part to accelerate the vaccine distribution and vaccinations, I need the American people to do their part as well.”
33 states and Puerto Rico have declared a mask mandate; the states that have lifted mask mandates are Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, with others set to follow in April. In Texas, coronavirus infection rates dropped to a record low three weeks after the mask mandate was lifted and businesses reopened.
Biden announced a new goal that by April 19, 90 percent of Americans will be eligible to receive the vaccine and 90 percent will have a vaccination center within 5 miles of home.
The president also agreed, prompted by a reporter, that some states should stop trying to reopen.
Q: Mr. President, do you believe that some states should pause their reopening efforts?
Biden Trying To Bring Iran Back—More Slowly Than Expected.
Biden officials reportedly intend to put forward a plan offering Iran partial sanctions relief if they will halt some of their nuclear activities.
Iran will hold presidential elections in June, adding to the urgency of restarting talks as soon as possible, as a president from Iran’s conservative ranks would likely spell the end of any possibility of reentering the deal.
Earlier this year, Iran rejected an offer that would have reinstated some access to Iran’s billions in frozen assets if Iran would stop its 20 percent uranium enrichment. Iran has argued that because the United States walked away from the nuclear deal under the Trump administration, it should be required to lift sanctions as the first move to restarting talks. European allies reportedly urged the U.S. to do so, expecting Biden to act more quickly to reverse Trump’s withdrawal.
Biden Staff: We’re Using National Crises To “Eradicate Hate.”
The White House released a blog post Monday entitled “Approaching Policy with Equity in Mind” on using national crises to advance race- and gender-related causes.
“The converging crises our nation faces today have exposed and exacerbated inequities that have long been with us,” Kalisha Dessources Figures and Catherine E. Lhamon write. “As we work to overcome those crises and build back better, we have an opportunity before us to pursue bold and necessary change to advance equity and opportunity for all.”
The article cites data on maternal mortality, under-compensation of caregivers, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and stalking, and school detention, suspensions, and expulsions. It also notes that “harmful school discipline policies are further compounded for LGBTQ+ students of color and with disabilities” (but does not define “harmful”).
Beyond the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (which seems to have done much more than “meet the moment”) and Biden’s executive order on enforcing existing laws that prohibit discrimination—supposedly “critical” steps to eliminating the aforementioned ills—his staff write:
In addition to these early and transformative actions, our teams have set up the infrastructure to ensure that whole-of-government approaches to equity are deeply integrated throughout the federal government—keeping in mind the specific barriers that Black, Indigenous, and other women and girls of color face every step of the way. We and our colleagues across the federal government have rolled up our sleeves—and will keep them rolled up—to eradicate hate, ensure equitable federal procurement, provide data to the public, promulgate regulations that promote fairness, and generally ensure that equity guides all of our work and results in equitable outcomes for the American people.
Hate is of course a private attitude the federal government cannot “eradicate,” but rest assured, it’s at the top of their list.