Biden pushes mask mandate as CDC director warns of 'impending doom'
With the country on the cusp of a potential fourth surge in coronavirus infections, President Biden on Monday urged state officials to reinstate masking requirements. "This is not politics," he said. "The failure to take this virus seriously is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place." Hours earlier, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, citing "impending doom," implored the public to keep wearing masks and practicing social distance during what is seen as a critical junction of the COVID-19 pandemic. "I am asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can, so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends," Walensky said. The United States has "so much reason for hope," she added. "But right now," she said, "I'm scared." More Americans are getting vaccinated against the virus, yet there has been an alarming rise in infections and hospitalization in recent weeks. The emergence of new variants of the virus is also causing concern. The administration not only is making direct appeals for continued preventive behavior but is also taking action. A dozen new mass vaccination centers are slated to open, and Biden has moved up his deadline for immunizing the nation's adults. While he earlier had directed states to qualify all adults for vaccination by May 1, the president said Monday that production is now at a level that at least nine out of 10 U.S. adults can be eligible by April 19.