White House says no Covid lockdowns as European countries apply restrictions

White House says no Covid lockdowns as European countries apply restrictions

Jeff Zents, White House Covid-19 coordinator, speaks at a press conference at the White House on April 13, 2021.

Lee Vogel | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Jeff Zentes, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said in a briefing Monday that the Biden administration has no plans to curb future Covid-19 spikes by using a nationwide shutdown.

Zients’ comments come as Austria enters its fourth nationwide lockdown and the Netherlands has imposed a partial lockdown in recent weeks amid the spread of the Covid virus across Europe. Rather than shutting down the US, Zenets said the federal government will rely on vaccines and therapeutic treatments to keep the country afloat in the event of another devastating Covid wave.

“We can limit the spread of the virus without shutting down our economy in any way,” Zenz said. “Now we have 82% of people who get one shot and more and more people are vaccinated every week.”

Colleagues called for the continued use of vaccines, booster shots and monoclonal antibodies to prevent the United States from “coming back in any way”. More than 60 million eligible Americans have not yet been vaccinated against Covid, and health officials are asking those who qualify for boosters to register for their additional doses as the holidays approach.

Covid cases in the US stabilized between 70,000 and 75,000 per day for about three weeks from the end of October, but have since reached a seven-day average of about 92,400 per day as of Sunday, a 16% increase from the previous week, according to the report. CNBC data analysis from Johns Hopkins University. But abroad, Europe recorded more than 2.1 million new cases in the week ending November 14, nearly 64% of all cases worldwide during that period, the World Health Organization reported in its latest weekly epidemiological update.

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Austria recorded a seven-day average of nearly 14,000 daily cases through Sunday, up 28% from last week, according to data compiled by Hopkins. In the week ending Sunday, the Netherlands is seeing an average of about 21,000 infections a day, up 56% from the previous week.

The lockdown in Austria began on Monday and will last up to 20 days, with the nationwide vaccine mandate taking effect on February 1, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said Friday. The Netherlands also reported a partial closure on Saturday, forcing select businesses to close early and preventing the public from attending sporting events for three weeks, Reuters reported.

Protests erupted in Austria and the Netherlands in response to the return of lockdowns and stricter Covid-19 mitigation measures. Similar demonstrations have erupted in Belgium, Croatia and Italy in recent days.

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel also called for stricter measures in Europe’s largest economy as Covid rises there.

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