By Ahmed Aboulenein and David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States does not need to impose a lockdown or shut down its economy to curb the spread of COVID-19 and will rely on other tools, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Monday.
“We are not headed in that direction. We have the tools to accelerate the path out of this pandemic; widely available vaccinations, booster shots, kid shots, therapeutics,” Zients told reporters at a White House briefing.
“We can curb the spread of the virus without having to in any way shut down our economy.”
U.S. regulators expanded eligibility for booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines to all adults on Friday, and 3 million people received them since, Zients said.
“In fact, just across Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we got 3 million booster shots into arms. A million booster shots per day,” he said. “Don’t delay, get your booster shot so you can have enhanced protection for COVID as we head into the winter.”
Separately, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said U.S. health officials are not currently recommending lockdowns or economic restrictions to curb rising COVID-19 cases.
Europe is once again the epicenter of the global pandemic with Austria reimposing full lockdown, riots breaking out in cities across the Netherlands over a partial lockdown, and many other countries imposing restrictions.
The current seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in the United States rose 18% from last week’s average to 92,800 per day, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said at the briefing.
U.S. hospitalizations rose 6% to an average of 5,600 per day and average daily deaths are about 1,000 per day, she said. Around 47 million eligible American adults and over 12 million teenagers are still not fully vaccinated, Walensky added.
As of Sunday, COVID-19 had killed 776,188 people in the United States, according to a Reuters tally.
(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein and David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)