US President Biden implored state and local officials to reinstate mask mandates, after Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shared her feelings of "impending doom" at a White House Covid-19 briefing.
The plea comes as some states have lifted requirements for face coverings, as well as guidance on restaurant capacity and other measures, and cases have again begun to rise. Last week, the Biden administration called on states to slow the relaxation of Covid-19 guidelines.
“I need the American people do their part as well. Mask up, mask up. It's a patriotic duty. It's the only way we ever get back to normal,” he said.
Biden also suggested businesses should also require the use of masks. “The failure to take this virus seriously precisely what got us to this mess in the first place, risk more cases, more deaths."
Walensky said she would be conveying Biden’s message to governors.
“With regard to the surging, we are working closely with the states. I will be speaking with the governors tomorrow to try and reinforce the need for current restrictions to not open up,” Walensky said earlier Monday.
“I think what we’ll do on masking will really depend on where we are 30 days from now.”
Experts have warned another case surge is likely on its way in the coming weeks, one that will this time be fueled by coronavirus variants. Health officials are preparing for a possible third wave that will be driven by a rapidly spreading variant that was first identified in the UK.
Data from the CDC shows 2,102 cases of the variant have been detected across the US -- but scientists have warned that number likely doesn't represent the total of cases in the country.