Aug. 4, 2021 -- President Joe Biden had strong words for Republican governors who blocked businesses and schools from imposing COVID-19 vaccination and face mask mandates, telling them they need to help fight the pandemic or “get out of the way.”
At a White House news briefing Tuesday, Biden spoke about governors who “forbid people from doing the right thing.”
Some states prohibit businesses and universities from requiring workers and students to be masked or vaccinated, he said, specifically criticizing a Texas law that says universities or community colleges could be fined if a teacher asks an unvaccinated student to wear a mask.
“Look, we need leadership from everyone,” Biden said. “And if some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it.
“I say to these governors, ‘Please, help.’ But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”
A reporter then asked Biden if he thought Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott were harming their own residents. DeSantis signed an order last week prohibiting schools from requiring masks, while Abbott recently banned local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines.
“I believe the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents. And it’s clear to me and to most of the medical experts that the decisions being made, like not allowing mask mandates in school and the like, are bad health policy -- bad health policy,” Biden replied.
He also called out Texas and Florida in noting the surge in Delta variant cases is concentrated in states with low vaccination rates.
“Just two states, Florida and Texas, account for one-third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country. Just two states,” Biden said.
The CDC reported Wednesday that the Delta variant now accounts for 93.4% of coronavirus circulating in the United States, CNN reported. That includes several sub-lineages that are classified as variants of concern.
The Delta variant makes up even a higher percentage of cases in some sections of the nation; It accounts for 98% of cases in the region that includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, according to CNN.
The Delta variant has quickly become the dominant strain in the U.S. It made up only about 3% of national coronavirus cases for the 2 weeks ending May 22 but had grown to 53.5% of all cases by the 2 weeks ending July 3, the CDC said.