News: COVID-19 safety measures still essential even as U.S. boosts vaccine supply: White House.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The US states must “band together” to maintain security measures like social distancing and the wearing of masks while the federal government helps boost vaccine production and delivery, the White House said on Wednesday.
Cases of COVID-19 in the US remain above 50,000 daily, according to federal data, after the US government distributed more than 100 million doses of vaccine and shot in over 50 million guns.
“This is not forever … we know it can save tens of thousands of lives,” said Andy Slavitt, senior White House advisor, at a press conference Wednesday on continued security measures after Texas and other states announced some pandemic-related restrictions take back.
“We strongly encourage people to continue wearing masks and mayors, governors and others who acknowledge the need to make difficult decisions to stay on course.”
Slavitt said the federal government plans to spend $ 100 million to support the joint partnership between Merck & Co and rival Johnson & Johnson, announced on Tuesday, to accelerate vaccine production.
The infusion will help J&J kickstart production of its one-shot vaccine, Slavitt said.
J&J was commissioned to deliver 200 million cans to the federal government by the end of May and around one billion cans worldwide by the end of 2021.
“We believe Merck can double the capacity of Johnson & Johnson over time,” said Slavitt.
US President Joe Biden said Tuesday the United States would have enough vaccines to vaccinate all adults by May.
J&J, Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc are contracted to ship 700 million cans between them by mid-year.
Slavitt urged states like Texas to reconsider recent decisions to lift mask mandates and allow companies to open fully.
There are health officials in every state who believe “this is the wrong time to lift the mask mandate,” he said.
Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Carl O’Donnell; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Bill Berkrot
Original Source © Reuters