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Biden says states should reinstate mask mandates and wait to reopen businesses as Covid cases rise

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Covid-19 response and vaccinations in the South Court Auditorium of the White House in Washington DC, on March 29, 2021.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Monday urged governors and local leaders who dropped sweeping mask mandates to reinstate their orders, indicated some states should wait to reopen their economies while condemning “reckless behavior” likely to spur more infections.

“Our work is far from over. The war against Covid-19 is far from won,” Biden said at a press briefing, where he announced a series of plans to vastly expand access to the vaccines in the coming weeks. “This is deadly serious.”

The president said he supports the warnings from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said earlier on Monday that the U.S. is facing “impending doom” as daily Covid-19 cases begin to rebound once again.

Walensky said during a press briefing earlier in the day that many states are reopening their economies even though the level of viral transmission remains too high. Walensky said she will ask governors on Tuesday to “refrain from opening up too fast.”

The U.S. recorded an average of 63,239 new Covid-19 cases per day over the last week, a 16% increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Daily cases are now growing by at least 5% in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

“We’re giving up hard-fought, hard-won gains,” Biden said. “And as much as we’re doing America, it’s time to do even more.”

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.

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