Conservative pundits say Biden and the Democrats want more lockdowns. This is not correct
Some right-wing commentators are warning that the White House and Democrats across the country are preparing another round of stay-at-home orders and business closures, public health measures that have devastated the economy and divided the nation into 2020, even as they slowed the spread of COVID-19.
But they base these claims largely on innuendoes and conjectures rather than facts.
“The White House gossip is that the lockdowns for the Delta variant are all but complete,” Tory commentator Jack Posobiec wrote on Twitter July 29. “Virtually all blue states cooperate with WH / CDC. They are targeting the end of the 2nd week of August, according to a WH official.
Days later, conservative host Dan Bongino said on his podcast, “They want to lock it down again. … Libraries will never let the coronavirus panic go. “
Bongino and Posobiec’s claims appeared to depend on statements by the White House that the administration would listen to the advice of health officials in crafting its response to the delta variant outbreak. A Fox News article on these statements was titled, “White House Won’t Rule Up Future Lockdowns, School Closures If CDC Says So.” “
But in each case, the claims omitted what the White House affirmatively said about it: that it is doing what it can to promote vaccination and mask wearing in areas affected by the delta variant, to avoid the need for locks, shutdowns or school closures.
“We are not going back on this,” President Joe Biden said in a July 27 statement.
Since then, Biden has spoken out against blockades on several occasions and has instead focused on vaccination to stem the rise of the delta variant. And we have found no evidence for Posobiec’s claim that such measures are coordinated or advocated by Democratic governors.
Biden is urged to avoid another round of lockdowns, which would jeopardize the country’s fragile economic recovery.
“Our economy has come a long way in the past six months,” Biden said in remarks in July about his legislative agenda, including for infrastructure. “We cannot slow down now.”
The Fox News report was based on a round trip during a press briefing between journalist Peter Doocy and White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.
Doocy: “So President Biden says we’re not going back to lockdowns and closures and school closures, but he also said once that we don’t have to wear masks once we’re vaccinated. So why should Americans trust him now?
Jean-Pierre: “We listen to scientists; we listen to the expert (s).
Doocy: “If scientists come to you at some point and say, ‘In our opinion, there should be closures and there should be school closures’, would you do that?
Jean-Pierre replied, “We are listening to the CDC” and expert advice. She also said Biden wanted all schools to reopen.
Posobiec’s post, in which he called the blockades “anything but a done deal”, appeared on the same day.
In response to the Fox News report, Jean-Pierre tweeted part of Biden’s July 27 statement against a return to lockdowns.
The next day, a reporter asked Jean-Pierre if there were “conversations at the White House, or between the White House and science advisers, about more lockdowns, partial lockdowns or something like that. ? “
The United States has the tools to fight the variant, she said, and “we’re not going to be heading for a lockdown.”
Bongino’s report cited another White House statement. He played an excerpt from the August 2 briefing from White House press secretary Jen Psaki when asked about the potential for further guidance on COVID-19. Here is what she said:
The President is keeping the option open to ensure that the CDC and our public health officials can make recommendations on what is necessary to keep the American people safe. I am not in a position to preview this or anticipate the decisions they might make.
We have made it clear that we are not going back to the March 2020 shutdowns. We are not going back to the shutdown of the economy. We have made too much progress. Too many people are vaccinated. There has been too much progress on the economic front. But, again, he said from the start that we were going to be guided by science, guided by our public health experts, and that we were not going to take options away from what they might recommend.
Bongino called Psaki a flip-flop. “They want to lock it down again,” Bongino said. “Why? Because they need an excuse to bankrupt you and make you more dependent on the government.
When Biden announced new rules on July 29 to push more federal workers to get vaccinated, he said, “We have the tools to prevent this new wave of COVID from shutting down our businesses, our schools, our society, like us. saw it happen last year. “
He made pretty much the same remarks on August 3 and 6.
To be clear, a closure in which there are widespread closures of businesses or public facilities is a step more severe than guidelines, such as the CDC’s recommendations on wearing masks in schools. When Biden was asked on July 30, “Should Americans expect more guidelines, more restrictions because of COVID?” he replied: “In all probability.
Federal health officials also dismissed the idea that closures would be necessary.
“I don’t think we’re going to see any blockages,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Aug. 1. “I think we have enough of the percentage of people in the country, not enough to crush the epidemic, but I believe enough not to allow us to find ourselves in the situation we were in last winter,” said Fauci.
Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told “Good Morning America” on August 2, “We want to avoid blockages at all costs. But that means we’re going to have to do other things that won’t necessarily be welcomed by people, like the new recommendation to wear masks in indoor gatherings, even if you are vaccinated. “
Some Democratic governors say they are leaving their options open, but pushing the vaccination to avoid any need for closings.
“I’m not here to announce capacity limits or closures or anything like that,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said Aug. 5. “In fact, everything we are doing right now is aimed at preventing only these scenarios.”
During a press briefing, a reporter asked North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper if he would consider lowering limits on nursing home visits, mask warrants and business closures if the rates vaccination programs were lagging behind.
“The health and safety of the North Carolinians remains the primary focus here, so all options are on the table,” Cooper said Aug. 4. “But we really think people now know what to do to protect themselves and others and our main focus is going to be on vaccinations.… We don’t want to do these other things if we don’t have to.
Cooper spokesman Ford Porter told PolitiFact that a stay-at-home order and trade restrictions “are currently not under review.”
Bobby Leddy, spokesperson for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, told PolitiFact that even some less restrictive rules are not discussed. “There is no plan for statewide mask requirements, collection limitations or vaccination verification,” Leddy said.
Hawaii Governor David Ige signed an executive order on Aug. 10 limiting social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people indoors and a maximum of 25 people outdoors. But Ige didn’t call for a blanket lockdown.
Michael Fraser, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said he had not heard of any states moving towards stay-at-home orders.
“As someone who works with all state health officials nationwide, I can unequivocally share that no one is planning a return to stay-at-home orders at this time or in the near future.” Fraser said. “That being said, we all need to get a handle on this variant and if things get worse I’m sure some people will want to discuss putting all mitigation strategies back on the table.”
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker cautioned against excluding any mitigation options. “There were people last summer who thought we should rule out potential further mitigation and you saw what happened in September, October, November, December,” he said in an interview with Fox 32 Chicago airs July 20. “I mean it was worse than it was in April and May.
Yet when asked a week later about business owners concerned about the prospect of a shutdown, Pritzker said he was focusing on mask use and vaccinating people.
“Except for the introduction of a new variant that requires a change of course, the state is not looking to implement past mitigation measures when an effective vaccine is available,” the spokesperson told PolitiFact. by Pritzker, Jordan Abudayyeh.
Posobiec said the White House plans to call for lockdowns to curb the spread of the delta variant.
We found no evidence of this. The Biden administration said it listens to advice from public health officials, but emphasizes vaccinations and mask wear to avoid the need for lockdowns or school closures. Biden has repeatedly said that between vaccines and masks, the United States has the tools to fight this wave without resorting to closures. We assess this claim as false.
Kiannah Sepeda-Miller of PolitiFact Illinois and Paul Specht of PolitiFact North Carolina contributed to this fact check.
This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. Check out the sources for this fact check here and other PolitiFact fact checks here.