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White House says no Covid lockdown as European countries enforce restrictions

Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 coordinator, speaks at a White House press conference on April 13, 2021.

Leigh Vogel | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Biden administration does not intend to curb future outbreaks of Covid-19 by using a nationwide lockdown, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said during a briefing Monday.

Zients’ comments come as Austria begins its fourth national lockdown and the Netherlands institutes a partial lockdown amid a wave of Covid that has raged across Europe in recent weeks. Instead of locking down the United States, Zients said the federal government would rely on vaccines and therapeutic treatments to keep the country going in the event of another devastating wave of Covid.

“We can curb the spread of the virus without having to shut down our economy in any way,” Zients said. “We now have 82% of people who have had a single injection and more and more people are getting vaccinated every week. “

Zients called for the continued use of vaccines, boosters and monoclonal antibodies to prevent the United States from “backing down in any way.” More than 60 million eligible Americans have still not been vaccinated against Covid, and health officials are asking those who qualify for the reminders to sign up for their extra doses as the holidays approach.

Covid cases in the United States peaked at between 70,000 and 75,000 per day for almost three weeks from the end of October, but they have since hit a seven-day average of nearly 92,400 per day on Sunday, a 16% increase over the previous week. , according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. But overseas, Europe counted more than 2.1 million new cases in the week ending November 14, or about 64% of all cases worldwide during that period, reported the World Health Organization in its latest weekly epidemiological update.

Austria recorded a seven-day average of nearly 14,000 daily cases on Sunday, up 28% from a week ago, according to data compiled by Hopkins. And the Netherlands averages about 21,000 infections per day for the week ending Sunday, 56% more than the week before.

Austria’s lockdown began on Monday and will last for no more than 20 days, with a national vaccination mandate taking effect on February 1, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Friday. The Netherlands also launched a partial lockdown on Saturday, forcing some businesses to close early and barring the public from attending sporting events for three weeks, Reuters reported.

Austria and the Netherlands have both seen protests erupt in response to the return of lockdowns and stricter Covid mitigation measures. Similar protests have also taken place in Belgium, Croatia and Italy in recent days.

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also called for tougher measures in Europe’s largest economy as Covid skyrockets there.

CNBC Chloe taylor, Holly ellyatt and Nate rattner contributed to this report.

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