President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday that his administration would not impose a national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am not going to shut down the economy, period,” he said at a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware, after meeting by videoconference with the executive committee of the National Governors Association, made up of five Republican and five Democratic governors.
“I’m going to shut down the virus, that’s what I’m going to shut down. I’ll say it again: No national shutdown. No national shutdown,” he repeated. “Every region, every area, every community can be different. So there’s no circumstance that I can see which would require a total national shutdown.”
He said he and the governors discussed a mandate requiring Americans to wear masks. It “shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” he said. “It’s not a political statement. It’s a patriotic duty.”
Biden spoke shortly before Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, urged Americans to be vigilant as the pandemic surges across the country.
But Vice President Mike Pence said Trump had told him to to make clear that the task force “does not support another national lockdown” and “we do not support closing schools” to curb spread of the coronavirus.
There have been more than 11.6 million cases in the U.S. and 251,892 deaths from the virus, which is prompting some states to impose mask mandates and other measures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier Thursday issued guidance advising Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving or gather with people they don’t live with.