On the 23rd Day of Biden, the Centers for Disease Control announced that a safe school reopening is within reach—but only if his partisan-charged American Rescue Plan is passed, Biden added.
CDC Guidance Indicates Schools Can Reopen Safely.
The new CDC school reopening guidelines released Friday indicate that there is strong evidence that classroom learning can be done safely.
The operational strategy from CDC prioritizes five mitigation measures—mask-wearing, physical distancing, handwashing, clean facilities, and rigorous testing and contact tracing. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted that vaccination for teachers can provide “an extra layer of protection,” but per the new guidelines, they are not considered a prerequisite for opening.
President Biden released an accompanying statement (which oddly opens with the line “But we can do more”) and pitches the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan as an essential part of meeting CDC guidelines.
But we can do more. Shortly before taking office, I set an ambitious but achievable goal of opening most K-8 schools by the end of my first 100 days. I’ve said all along that this is a national imperative — one that can only be achieved if Congress provides states and communities with the resources they need to get it done safely through the American Rescue Plan.
Press secretary Jen Psaki declined to outline new goals for school reopening on behalf of the White House, and referred questions regarding high schools to the CDC.
Psaki Addresses Ducklo’s “Serious Punishment.”
A press office scandal erupted late last week as it came to light that White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo had harassed a female reporter who asked about his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond. (The relationship had been glowingly reported in People magazine as a blossoming romance free of any conflicts of interest—but McCammond was still reporting and giving commentary on matters related to the Biden White House.)
Psaki, asked to address the situation in the briefing room Friday:
“TJ Ducklo, who is the deputy who you’re asking about, has apologized to the reporter — apologized to the reporter quite shortly after the comments were made. He had a heated conversation about a story related to his personal life. I’m not saying that’s acceptable, but I just want to be clear that it was not about an issue related to the White House or a White House policy or anything along those lines… In addition to his initial apology, he sent the reporter a personal note, expressing his profound regret. The ask — he has been placed, as you noted, on a one-week suspension without pay. That is a significant step… And in addition, when he returns, he will no longer be assigned to work with any reporters at Politico.”
Not only was Biden not informed of the matter, but many also pointed to the hypocrisy of the President having promised – just days ago – that people speaking disrespectfully to colleagues in his White House would be “fired on the spot.”
Ducklo wasn’t. He was simply suspended for one week.
Only after more pressure did the White House finally cave, and Ducklo had to resign.
Governors, Including Cuomo, Meet With Biden in Washington.
Biden met with governors in the Oval Office Friday, including Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, who currently presides over a scandal of mass nursing home fatalities after ordering New York nursing homes to accept Coronavirus patients and withholding key data.
When asked about Cuomo’s presence at the meeting, and whether Biden approved of Cuomo’s handling of the crisis, Psaki replied:
“The President hosted Governor Cuomo and a bipartisan group of governors and mayors to the White House today to get their perspective from the frontlines, not to give anyone a stamp of approval or to seek their stamp of approval, and to discuss the urgency of passing the American Rescue Plan.”
“Robust” Review Aimed at Closing Guantanamo Bay.
The White House confirmed Friday that it “is our goal and intention” to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and a “robust interagency process” will move forward pending various key roles being filled at Defense, State, and the Justice Department.
At its peak in 2003, Guantanamo Bay held 680 detainees, and today holds only 40.
Former president Barack Obama claimed he wanted to close the facility during his tenure, though he never did.
On January 28, it was announced that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay would be offered the Coronavirus vaccine ahead of Americans, in order to expedite legal proceedings.