White House: Speech will avoid ‘lockdowns’

President Biden is set to make a speech on Tuesday to address rising COVID-19 infections across the country. But according to the White House, he will not endorse any new virus restrictions. Instead, he will announce new steps to increase access to coronavirus vaccines and tests.

“This is not a speech about locking the country down,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a briefing Monday. “This is a speech outlining and being direct and clear with the American people about the benefit of being vaccinated, the steps we’re going to take to increase access and to increase testing and the risks posed to unvaccinated individuals.”

Biden administration officials have urged Americans to get vaccinated and for those who are eligible to get booster doses to protect themselves from severe illness, especially as new variants have emerged.

Biden, who met privately with his coronavirus advisers Monday afternoon, is slated to deliver a speech Tuesday amid an uptick in cases due to the more transmissible delta and omicron variants.

The president will say that “while vaccinated individuals get COVID due to the highly transmissibility nature of omicron, their cases will likely be mild or asymptomatic,” Psaki said.

“He’ll restate that we’re prepared and that fully vaccinated individuals have the tools to protect themselves with a booster shot and masking where CDC recommends,” she continued. “For those who remain unvaccinated, he’ll issue a stark warning and make clear unvaccinated individuals will continue to drive hospitalizations and deaths.”