Pressed Friday on whether the US is headed for more lockdowns, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “The way we see this is that we have the tools in our tool belt to fight this, this, this variant,” adding, “we are not going to head towards a lockdown.”
Biden made further waves on Thursday when pressed by reporters about country-wide Covid vaccine mandates saying, “It’s still a question if the federal government can mandate the whole country, I don’t know that yet.”
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients immediately denied that the administration was looking at a nationwide vaccine mandate after Biden’s comments. “That’s not an authority that we’re exploring at all,” Zients told CNN. “But I think what the president was referring to is, his Justice Department has said that it is legal for employers to require vaccination.”
Called “a chaotic week of contradictory messages from the White House” by the NY POST, U.S. public health officials have continued to play damage control by walking back statements. Fresh of announcing a guideline change to both mask the vaccinated and re-mask school children, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Fox News that the administration was examining the possibility of a federal vaccine mandate.
“That’s something that I think the administration is looking into. It’s something that I think we’re looking to see approval of from the vaccine,” Walensky told “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier.
Less than an hour after the interview, Walensky responded to a CNBC reporter by tweeting: “To clarify: There will be no nationwide mandate. I was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. There will be no federal mandate.”
Meanwhile, the blanket federal mandate announced by Biden on Thursday has drawn sharp criticism criticism from the American Postal Workers Union (APWU). The group, representing more than 200,000 people, released a statement opposing the mandate for the workers it represents in part stating,
“…it is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent.
Issues related to vaccinations and testing for COVID-19 in the workplace must be negotiated with the APWU. At this time the APWU opposes the mandating of COVID-19 vaccinations in relation to U.S. postal workers“