The White House said Monday that Dr. Anthony Fauci’s belief there should be more “local” mandates to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates does not mean the federal government will try to impose rules.
But it will support local officials who decide that’s a step they need to take, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
A mandate “is not our intention from the federal government,” Ms. Psaki said. “There will be decisions made by private-sector entities, by universities, by educational institutions and even, perhaps, by local leaders should they decide that is how to keep their communities safe. If they decide to make that decision, we certainly support them in that step.”
Dr. Fauci was responding Sunday to a question from CNN’s Jake Tapper, who wondered if the doctor thought it was generally a good idea for schools and businesses to require vaccinations.
“I remain of that opinion, that I do believe, at the local level, Jake, there should be more mandates. There really should be. We’re talking about a life-and-death situation. We have lost 600,000 Americans already, and we’re still losing more people,” Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“There have been 4 million deaths worldwide,” he said. “This is serious business. So I am in favor of that.”
The Biden administration is pleading with Americans to get vaccinated as the campaign largely stalls.
The most eager rushed for the shots in earlier months but less than half of the U.S. population — roughly 48% — is fully vaccinated.
Children below age 12 aren’t eligible for the vaccines yet. Among older groups, 8 in 10 seniors and 59% of all adults are fully vaccinated.
Vaccination rates vary widely from place to place, so officials are worried that places with poor rates will see outbreaks.
Southwestern Missouri is combatting an outbreak from the fast-moving delta variant, forcing hospitals to bolster their response.