Psaki: Biden’s Speech Tomorrow Won’t Be About Locking Down Country

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
December 20, 2021 Updated: December 20, 2021

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 speech on Tuesday will not involve a push for lockdowns over the spread of the Omicron variant.

Biden “will issue a stark warning” to people who haven’t yet received a COVID-19 vaccination, Psaki said. But the president, she said, will not be a push for locking down over the variant, which has caused few deaths worldwide.

“This is not a speech about locking the country down,” Psaki remarked.

While the World Health Organization named Omicron a “variant of concern” due to its high transmissibility, officials in South Africa and New York City’s chief health commissioner have recently said the strain has resulted in only a fraction of the hospitalizations that were seen in earlier COVID-19 waves.

The president has little latitude in enforcing a lockdown as Congress is the only entity that can regulate interstate commerce. However, should the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a recommendation to implement stay-at-home orders, certain municipalities would likely follow suit.

Biden, meanwhile, will announce that the federal government will work to try and make vaccines and COVID-19 testing more available nationwide, Psaki said during Monday’s press conference.

Late last week, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said the federal government is aiming to not “disrupt work and school.” The White House confirmed over the weekend that Biden will touch on those themes.

“For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm,” Zients said.

A growing number of businesses, schools, and other institutions have announced they would shut down or impose other COVID-19 mandates due to the variant.

Organizers of Los Angeles’ New Year’s Eve party planned for downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Park say there will not be an in-person audience. The event will be livestreamed instead, as it was last year. In Rhode Island, a mask mandate took effect Monday for indoor spaces that can hold 250 people or more, such as larger retail stores and churches.

Cases are surging in parts of the United States, particularly the Northeast and Midwest, although it’s not clear which variant is driving the upswing.

In New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has claimed the new variant is already in “full force,” a spike is scuttling Broadway shows and spurring long lines at testing centers, but so far new hospitalizations and deaths are averaging well below their spring 2020 peak.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.