A bilateral group of governors have conveyed to President Joe Biden that the country needs to “move away from the pandemic,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke at the White House Monday. This meeting was attended by governors, Vice President Kamala Harris, and several reporters.
“There are several areas that we have full agreement on, which is why we need to move away from the pandemic, and we asked the President to support us and give us explicit guidelines on how all of us can return to a greater state of normality.” The Republican briefed reporters outside the West Wing of the White House.
”The American Rescue Plan cost us a lot of money. And it was designed to ensure we could carry the nation forward to deal with vaccines, boosters, creating jobs, supporting schools open, and several other things”, Biden added.
The governor said the group wanted to join hands with the administration to go beyond the pandemic.
While there is more optimism that the worst of the pandemic is ending, the US daily average of cases remains near 500,000, with an average of more than 1,000 deaths per day, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly all states in the US are undergoing high transmission of Covid-19.
A reporter questioned Hutchinson on how the US could push away from the pandemic when Covid hospitalizations are at an all-time high.
“You can’t move away from a virus that’s still there. You can’t control that,” he stated, but added that “people are aiming for a more normal life.”
“I think we’ve moved to that very quickly,” Hutchinson persisted, “but we need to have the guidelines very clear as to how you structurally move from the pandemic state of things to an endemic”
During remarks at a White House meeting with the National Governors Association earlier Monday morning, the President said that the US still has a lot of progress to make on tamping down Covid-19 before returning to normal life.
“It is all about making sure that we have the same standards that we are applying across the board,” Biden said, adding that his administration will “try like the devil to keep schools open.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy added there was a “lot of good discussion about what does the road from pandemic to endemic look like? How do we keep score?”
Hutchinson said the group raised the issue with cabinet members, including specifically White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients and Biden himself.
Hutchinson remarked that Biden recognizes that they are moving in the right direction.
Ahead of the meeting at the White House, Biden advertised the federal funding states have received from the American Rescue Plan.
Biden said he has evidently made it clear that some of the funds should be used to combat violent crime and pushed states to hire “additional police officers” and to invest in community violence interventions.
Vice President Kamala Harris adds to Biden’s words.
Speaking before Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris has also renewed her push for voting rights legislation, telling the group that regardless of who they have voted for in the last election, we all as leaders of our nation truly understand the significance of ensuring that all people who are eligible to vote have an ability and a meaningful ability to vote and access to the ballot.
“So I would request that in this coming year, we work together to ensure that all Americans who are eligible to vote have significant access to the ballot,” Harris added.