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White House assesses lockdown possibility

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A top White House Covid-19 response coordinator said that the US is likely not headed for more lockdowns, arguing that vaccines and other “tools” in health officials’ arsenal would be sufficient to battle the virus.

Asked about whether future shutdown orders could be on the horizon during a Monday press briefing, senior White House Covid adviser Jeff Zients answered in the negative, telling reporters the days of lockdowns in the US are over.

“We are not headed in that direction… We can curb the spread of the virus without having to in any way shut down our economy,” he said, adding that the virus is now “under our control.”

We have the tools to accelerate the path out of this pandemic; widely available vaccinations, booster shots, kid shots, therapeutics.

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Zients’ remarks follow similar comments from White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who has repeatedly stressed that no more lockdowns are in store, telling reporters as early as August that “We are not going back.” 

Despite those assurances, however, lockdown orders in the US have been the exclusive domain of state and local authorities, rather than the White House, leaving it unclear whether Zients and Psaki are referring to an – as yet unprecedented – federal shutdown measure. Though some localities have begun to lift their pandemic restrictions, many states and cities across the US continue to impose mask requirements, vaccine passes and occupancy limits, among other containment policies.

READ MORE: US appeals court rejects Biden’s vaccine mandate

The White House previously vowed on several occasions that it would never mandate Covid-19 vaccinations on the federal level, though the administration has since reversed course and issued a flurry of vaccine requirements, including on federal workers, healthcare staff and any company that employees more than 100 people – potentially affecting a large swath of the US population. The workplace mandate is currently facing major legal challenges, however, with an appeals judge recently issuing stay on the measure as the case plays out in court.

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