Biden to GOP Govs: Help With COVID or 'Get Out of the Way'

Ralph Ellis

August 04, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

President Joe Biden has criticized Republican governors who blocked businesses and schools from imposing COVID-19 vaccination and face mask mandates, telling the governors they need to help fight the pandemic or "get out of the way."

Speaking on Tuesday at a White House news briefing, Biden complained 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 asked Biden if he thought Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott were harming their own citizens. DeSantis signed an order last week prohibiting schools from requiring masks and Abbott has 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.

Biden 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 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday that the Delta variant now accounts for 93.4% of coronavirus circulating in the United States. That includes several sub-lineages which are classified as variants of concern.

The Delta variant makes up even a higher percentage of cases in some sections of the nation. CNN noted that it accounts for 98% of cases in the region that includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska,

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 two weeks ending May 22 but had grown to 53.5% of all cases by the two weeks ending July 3, the CDC said.

Sources:

The White House. "Remarks by President Biden on Fighting the COVID-⁠19 Pandemic"

CDC. "Variant Proportions"

CNN. "Delta variant now accounts for more than 93% of Covid-19 cases in the US"

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