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Governors Lifting Mask Mandates ‘Know That They’re Not Helping,’ Senior White House COVID-19 Adviser Says

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Andy Slavitt, the White House senior advisor to the COVID-19 response coordinator, said Tuesday that governors removing mask mandates are aware their actions aren’t helpful.

“Well, I think the governors know better. I think the governors know that they’re not helping the cause, that they’re actually weighing down the cause and that they may think it’s a popular thing to do. I don’t think that’s the case,” Slavitt said on CNN’s “New Day.” Texas, Montana, West Virginia, Connecticut, Iowa, Arizona, North Dakota and Mississippi recently removed its mask mandates, according to the Associated Press.

Slavitt said although more vaccines are being administered, death rates are increasing since millions of Americans have not received the vaccine. The White House official said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will keep urging people to wear masks and said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s “job is to speak the truth, even if people don’t like it.”

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During a Monday speech at the White House President Joe Biden urged governors and other officials “to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate.” (RELATED: It’s Been Three Weeks, Where Are The COVID-19 Surges?)

“I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate. Please, this is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down. And businesses should require masks as well,” Biden said. “The failure to take this virus seriously, precisely what got us in this mess in the first place, risks more cases and more deaths.”

“Look, as I do my part to accelerate the vaccine distribution of vaccinations, I need the American people to do their part as well. Mask up, mask up. It’s a patriotic duty,” Biden said. “It’s the only way we ever get back to normal. To cheer together, and stadiums full of fans. To gather together on holidays again safely. Go to graduations, weddings.”

Texas had a weekly average of 7,747 COVID cases as of March 2, but that number dropped to 2,220 by March 29, according to CDC data. California, which has a mask mandate in place, mirrors Texas with a weekly average of 2,277 cases as of March 29, according to the CDC.
“Today the 7-day Covid positivity rate dropped to a new recorded low: 4.95%,” Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Sunday. The state lifted all COVID restrictions on March 2, including the mask mandate.

The White House official also compared removing COVID-19 restrictions to “playing with fire” during a Monday interview on MSNBC’s “Stephanie Ruhle Reports.”

“So lifting all of these restrictions, telling people not to wear masks, gathering in large crowds, that’s the equivalent of playing with fire. Now if we were talking about this in six weeks, it would be a completely different story,” Slavitt said.

Slavitt told Ruhle that some governors across the U.S. aren’t willing to take part “in the rescue of our country and our citizens.”

“The real question is are we going to participate in that rescue, like the response from the Biden administration, or are we going to just wait and hope science rescues us? And I think we can all work together, we can beat this much quicker,” Slavitt said Monday.

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