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U.S. states and White House at odds over lifting COVID-19 restrictions

White House In Washington
Photo taken on Jan. 20, 2021 shows the White House in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)

Some U.S. states governors are at odds with the White House, opening up their economies and lifting mask mandates to the chagrin of U.S. President Joe Biden, who has blasted those states for such actions.

A number of states are loosening their COVID-19 restrictions on businesses including restaurants because of drops in the number of cases and deaths. The governors of Mississippi and Texas recently announced they would permit businesses to open up at full capacity and lift mandates requiring masks.Washington, D.C. just ended its ban on indoor eating. Chicago and the areas around are now allowing indoor dining for the first time in about five months. The state of California has recently lifted what has been blasted as draconian stay-at-home orders.

The state of Michigan has also announced that bars and restaurants can allow customers to dine and drink indoors for the first time in over two months, although Governor Gretchen Whitmer said there will be a 10-p.m.-curfew and a 25-percent capacity limit.But Biden has expressed opposition to states dropping mask mandates. “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms,” Biden has said recently.

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The coronavirus death toll in the United States has hit over 528,000, although newly confirmed cases have decreased in recent weeks.At the same time, new variants originally detected in South Africa and Britain are causing manufacturers to work on updating their vaccines to address the variants.On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its first set of recommendations on activities that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely resume.

The guidelines greenlight unmasked indoor gatherings among fully vaccinated individuals, but advise that everyone avoid larger indoor gatherings and mask up in public and high-risk settings regardless of vaccination status.White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said COVID-19 cases in the United States may level off again at very high volume, even as the nation is rapidly administering the three authorized and recommended vaccines.

The decline in cases seen since early January now appears to be “going down a little more slowly,” Fauci on Tuesday told the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a D.C.-based think tank.That means the United States might “plateau again at an unacceptably high level,” he said.

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Many Americans, however, are growing tired of ongoing pandemic-related restrictions, and some take a more nuanced approach. Marc in public relations in the D.C. area who refused to identify himself told Xinhua that while he wears masks to coffee shops and restaurants, it is “ridiculous” to wear a mask “on the street when it’s not crowded.”
Marc has already had the virus with mild symptoms. He contracted it from a friend who had symptoms but did not bother to warn Marc until they had been sitting face to face for over an hour.

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