White House clears press from room before Biden takes questions from governors on pandemic

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The Biden White House makes every effort to shield President Biden from the media when it comes to taking questions on pressing issues and giving impromptu responses to such inquiries.

On Monday, Biden was joined by White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on a call with the bipartisan National Governors Association, with the president seemingly shifting gears to declare “there is no federal solution” to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the end of his remarks, the president addressed Zients, “I want to thank the governors for their partnership and I mean that sincerely. With that I will turn it back over to Jeff and I understand you guys might have some questions. Jeff?”

And with that, Zients responded, “Good. I think we are going to clear the press first” — the press pool is then seen rising dutifully with little protest and begin clearing out of the room.

Biden took calls from governors to discuss ongoing efforts to combat rising COVID-19 cases due to the new omicron variant, according to a statement released by the White House.

“The group discussed a range of topics, including the latest science on the Omicron variant, the use and distribution of COVID-19 treatments, expanding Federal partnerships and resources on testing, and keeping the Nation’s schools open,” the release said. “President Biden concluded the call by reiterating his gratitude to NGA Chairman Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and NGA Vice Chairman Phil Murphy of New Jersey for their bipartisan leadership on the COVID-19 response, and that his Administration stands ready to provide any additional resources needed by the states.”

Before the Q&A session, Hutchinson cautioned in her remarks to “make sure that we do not let federal solutions stand in the way of state solutions,” adding that “the production of 500 million rapid tests that will be distributed by the federal government is great, but, obviously, that dries up the supply chain for the solutions that we might offer as governor.”

She then turned the floor over to Biden, who said, “Look, there is no federal solution. This gets solved at a state level … and then it ultimately gets down to where the rubber meets the road, and that’s where the patient is in need of help or preventing the need for help.”

Townhall columnist Larry O’Connor responded to those remarks in a tweet, reminding followers: “He *literally* ran promising to solve covid with federal solutions. And he *literally* attacked Trump for not implementing federal solutions.”

While running for office, Biden vowed to “shut down the virus,” assuring Americans that he had a plan to “end this,” speaking of the pandemic. He also said in marking 220,000 Covid deaths last fall under President Trump, “Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.”

There have been over 400,000 deaths attributed to COVIID-19 on Biden’s watch.

Biden has tried to deflect blame for a shortage of COVID-19 rapid tests amid a surge of cases from the Omicron variant, after reports that his administration rejected a plan in October calling for 732 million tests per month ahead of the holidays.

Pressed on this by reporters on Monday, the president said, “We didn’t reject it.”

During the governors conference, Biden said, “For over-the-counter, at-home test, as I said, there were none when we took office. None. Now we have eight on the market. And just three days ago, another test was cleared. We went from no over-the-counter tests in January to 46 million in October, 100 million in November, and almost 200 million in December.”

“But it’s not enough.  It’s clearly not enough,” he added.  “If I had — we had known, we would have gone harder, quicker if we could have.”

Tom Tillison


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