(TheConservativeNews.org) – The Biden administration is asking Congress to approve another multibillion-dollar round of COVID-19 funding, even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signals the country is moving into a new phase of the pandemic.
At Wednesday’s White House COVID task force briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters that the CDC is currently reviewing its mask guidance and hinted that an update might soon be announced. Walensky specifically said the review was a product of wanting “to give people a break from things like mask-wearing when metrics are better” and comes after a number of Democratic governors and mayors have recently dropped state masking mandates.
White House senior COVID-19 adviser Jeff Zients said at that same briefing that the administration had delivered 50 million of its free, at-home testing kits, 200 million individual tests in total, since launching its elective program earlier this year. Zients added that the U.S. is moving toward treating COVID-19 as a manageable illness rather than a crisis.
However, the Department of Health and Human Services recently briefed Capitol Hill lawmakers on the state of the pandemic and asked for another round of funding worth $30 billion, which would include $17.9 billion for vaccines and other therapeutics, $4.9 billion for testing, $3 billion to extend COVID care to people without insurance, and $3.7 billion for future pandemic preparedness. If granted, the sum would bring the total amount allocated by Congress for fighting the COVID pandemic to nearly $6 trillion.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was pressed by reporters about the ask at Tuesday’s press briefing.
“This is important because, while we continue to have sufficient funds to respond to the current omicron surge in the coming weeks, our goal has always been to ensure that we are well prepared to stay ahead of the virus, so we’ve been in these ongoing conversations about what those needs might look like, and this was a part of that effort,” she stated. “Resources from the [American] Rescue Plan and prior COVID response bills have enabled us to respond forcefully to the delta and omicron surges. And what we’re trying to do now is stay ahead and stay in contact with Congress about what those needs might look like.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top medical adviser, recently told Financial Times that even though he thinks there’s “no way” COVID-19 is eliminated entirely, he thinks the country might soon put the pandemic in the rearview.
“There is no way we are going to eradicate this virus,” Fauci told the outlet. “But I hope we are looking at a time when we have enough people vaccinated and enough people with protection from previous infection that the COVID restrictions will soon be a thing of the past.”
Still, the Biden administration has been accused of lagging behind blue states in altering policy to the shifting public polling on the pandemic.
“The CDC needs to ‘catch up’ with the governors of the party of the Biden administration because this current federal versus state response is looking very fractured,” Dr. Monica Gandhi, an expert in infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, previously told the Washington Examiner. “I would encourage the federal and state response to try to align.”
Gandhi, who publicly acknowledged masks as a mitigation tool, added that “the Democrat governors are following the science at this point in the pandemic in terms of responding to vaccination and hospitalization rates.”