US not heading towards Covid-19 lockdown, says White House

Banking & Finance

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The United States does not need to impose a lockdown or shut down its economy to curb the spread of Covid-19 and will rely on other tools, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Monday (Nov 22).

“We are not headed in that direction. We have the tools to accelerate the path out of this pandemic; widely available vaccinations, booster shots, kid shots, therapeutics,” Mr Zients told reporters at a White House briefing.

“We can curb the spread of the virus without having to in any way shut down our economy.”

US regulators expanded eligibility for booster shots of Covid-19 vaccines to all adults last Friday, and three million people have received them since, Mr Zients said.

“In fact, just across Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we got three¬†million booster shots into arms. A million booster shots per day,” he said. “Don’t delay, get your booster shot so you can have enhanced protection for Covid-19 as we head into the winter.”

Separately, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said US health officials are not currently recommending lockdowns or economic restrictions to curb rising Covid-19 cases.

Europe is once again the epicentre of the global pandemic, with Austria reimposing full lockdown, riots breaking out in cities across the Netherlands over a partial lockdown, and many other countries imposing restrictions.

The current seven-day average of Covid-19 cases in the US rose 18 per cent from last week’s average to 92,800 a day, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said at the briefing.

US hospitalisations rose 6 per cent to an average of 5,600 a day and average daily deaths are about 1,000 a day, she said.

Around 47 million eligible American adults and more than 12 million teenagers are still not fully vaccinated, Dr Walensky added.

As at Sunday, Covid-19 had killed 776,188 people in the US, according to a Reuters tally.