Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are asking President Joe Biden to end the designation of COVID-19 as a public health emergency (PHE), saying vaccines and treatments are readily available and lockdowns, along with mask mandates, have become too damaging.
“Today we call on your administration to do what so many states and other countries already have: accept that COVID-19 is endemic, recognize that current heavy-handed government interventions are doing more harm than good, and immediately begin the process by which we unwind the PHE so our country can get back to normal,” GOP members of Congress wrote in a letter dated Thursday. More than 70 Republicans signed the letter.
“Although the PHE was certainly necessary at the outset of the pandemic, it was always meant to be temporary. Our country is now in a much different situation than we were when the PHE was originally enacted,” the letter said.
The letter also calls on Biden to take other actions on top of ending the PHE:
We call on you to take swift action to lift all vaccine mandates, which have not stopped the spread of COVID-19, but have alienated many Americans and have caused staff shortages at hospitals and other health care facilities; lift all mask mandates and the federal guidance that forces children to wear masks in schools and day care facilities (these are based on faulty data and are used in many Democratic-led jurisdictions to justify such mandates); and insist that schools fully open so children can learn in person. Americans, especially children, are in crisis. Instead of keeping us in a permanent state of emergency, it is time for this administration [to] put people first and stop clinging to powers you currently enjoy under the PHE.
As states across the nation — including those run by Democrats — begin to strip away mask mandates amid an ebbing of COVID-19 cases, Biden said over the weekend that it might be too soon to lift indoor mask mandates.
Biden said Sunday in an interview that decisions last week by nearly a dozen state governors to begin lifting indoor mask mandates were “probably premature.”
“Every day that goes by, children are more protected,” Biden said in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that aired before the Super Bowl. “The more protection they have, probably you’re going to see less and less requirement to have the masks.”
Several governors announced last week that mandates would end but not right away. And the states that announced an end are allowing individual school districts to make their own decisions.
“A CBS poll taken last week found that a majority of Americans still support mask mandates, including in schools, but that many are exhausted and frustrated by the pandemic. Public health experts agree that mask requirements in schools should not last forever, but some experts say that lifting school mask mandates too early could jeopardize the progress made over the last few weeks as cases declined,” The New York Times reported.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.
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