The Biden administration said that is has no plans to issue a nationwide lockdown to curb future COVID outbreaks and infection surges, a top White House COVID official said during a briefing on Monday.
"We have the tools to accelerate the path out of this pandemic: widely available vaccinations; booster shots; kids' shots; therapeutics, including monoclonal antibodies to help those who contract the virus," Jeff Zients, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House, told reporters. "We can curb the spread of the virus without having to in any way shut down our economy."
Zients' comments came as multiple European nations move to curb their spiking COVID infections in recent weeks with fresh restrictions, including Austria's fourth nationwide lockdown and the Netherlands entering a partial lockdown. Zients said that the U.S. will rely heavily on its nationwide vaccination campaign to combat the pandemic moving forward, adding that 82% of the nation now have received at least one dose of either vaccine developed by Pfizer
"Obviously, the decisions how to manage the virus are done at the local level, informed by community transmission, vaccination rate, and local capacity," Zients said. "So we need to use the tools we have and get more people vaccinated to keep people safe without going backwards in any way, shape or form. This is under our control."
More than 60 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated against COVID heading into the colder months, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Austria's lockdown began Monday and will last for at most 20 days, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said Friday, adding that a nationwide vaccine mandate will take effect on Feb. 1. The Netherlands entered a partial lockdown on Saturday, which includes early business curfews and halting of public sporting events, for the next three weeks.