White House: U.S. not headed toward another COVID-19 lockdown

With the COVID-19 mitigation tools at the ready, the United States is not headed toward a lockdown, the White House said as European nations either institute or mull reinstating such measures as they combat spiking cases.

“We are not headed in that direction,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said during a teleconference briefing on Monday.

Zients’ assurance came as Austria entered a lockdown Monday and several other European nations consider tightening restrictions amid surging infections.

The coronavirus response chief told reporters that the United States has the tools — mainly widely available vaccinations — to prevent the need for the economically stifling measure the country experienced last year.

“We have 82% of people now with one shot, and more and more people getting vaccinated,” he said, adding that 71% of adults are fully vaccinated while 95% of Americans as young as 5 years of age eligible for the vaccine. He added that another 36 million have received a booster shots.

“This is under control,” he said.

He also said President Joe Biden’s mandate issued in September for the 3.5 million federal workers to have been fully vaccinated by Monday night has achieved 95% compliance — meaning having received at least one shot or either a religious or medical exemption — with 90% already having been full vaccinated.

Federal workers crucial to the transportation of people and parcels during the upcoming holiday season have high rates of compliance, he said, with the Federal Aviation Administration at 99%, U.S. Customs and Border Protection at 98% and the Transportation Security Administration at 93%.

“So, we’re all set up for the holiday travel season,” he said. “There’s no question that we are headed into a very different Thanksgiving compared to last year, when millions of families were unable to celebrate the holiday together.”

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