GOP governors ignore Biden's latest plea on mask mandates
President Joe Biden's pleas for states to stick with mask mandates to slow the spread of the coronavirus were being largely ignored Tuesday as several Republican governors stayed on track to drop the requirement in their states.
Biden and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a day earlier that this is no time to relax safety measures.
In a call with governors on Tuesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky buttressed that message by citing "concerning” national trends: The seven-day average of 61,000 new COVID-19 cases per day is up 13%, and the seven-day average of deaths is up 6%.
But Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison announced Tuesday that he is dropping the state’s mask mandate immediately, a day earlier than previously announced. He said on the governors’ call that reopening his state is “really a necessity.” In Arkansas, the number of new reported cases was 69 on Sunday, according to the CDC, continuing a downward trend.
“Every state is different,” said Hutchison, a Republican.
On the other end of the spectrum, Michigan has seen a steep rise in cases. That prompted Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to ask whether the White House has considered surging additional vaccines to states with rapidly increasing infection rates.
Jeffrey Zeints, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, replied that officials are “thinking through how to address hot spots.” He promised to do everything to support Michigan in its “difficult situation.”
Staying the course is a “tough message” to communicate, White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged.
“It’s important for people to hear that we’re still in a war with this virus, and people still need to be vigilant in order to return to normal," Psaki told...