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Psaki: ‘We Can’t Declare…That Every Person Has to Be Vaccinated’

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(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – President Biden has been pushing COVID vaccination for months — “get the shot,” he says repeatedly — so what more can he say or do when he addresses the nation on COVID concerns late this afternoon?

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Thursday told MSNBC what the president cannot do: “There are limitations. We can’t declare with a magic wand from the federal government that every person has to be vaccinated,” she said.

“School districts can do that, leaders in states can push their school districts to do that. That’s important. Companies can do that and make those requirements for their employees. That’s something some larger companies have done, and that’s a model.

“So those are all pieces the president will talk about today. And he’s going to use every lever in his power, because he doesn’t want parents to fear their children going to school every day like many across the country and certain states do.”

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More ‘requirements,’ more testing

Psaki said Biden “knows” that the COVID pandemic “is the number one, two, and three issue, probably” on “most” Americans’ list of concerns.

(Note that Afghanistan and its national security implications are not one, two or three, according to Psaki.)

“So he’ll give some update on the progress we’ve made, but he also really wants to lay out and build on what we’ve done, and lay out the path ahead,” Psaki continued:

A big part of that is vaccinating people — getting people vaccinated who are unvaccinated. We know, if you look across the country, I know you all have been talking about hospitalizations of kids, which is horrifying, saddening — makes parents freaked out for understandable reasons, but we know it works.

We know that masking works. We know getting everyone in your household who is eligible — getting them vaccinated works. We know getting teachers vaccinated works. We know that having kids surrounded by vaccinated people works. So he’ll talk about that as well.

But he really wants to lay out for people the steps of what we did over the summer. More requirements — more requirements for federal workers, more requirements for private sector employees as well. More testing to ensure we know who has COVID and who might spread it. Making sure small businesses can survive. That’s what you’ll hear the president talk about today.

Psaki, who lives near the nation’s capital, suggested that COVID testing is hard to come by:

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“When we talk about protecting people, we have to make sure testing is available. You know, I live in Virginia — I would probably have to drive an hour to buy a test at this point in time. They should be more accessible to people across the country.”

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(The pharmacy chain CVS says on its website it has more than 4,800 testing locations, with no out-of-pocket costs, and that’s just one pharmacy chain/clinic offering COVID tests.)

Psaki noted that some 175 million people in this country are vaccinated, but 80 million are not. She said President Biden will talk about booster shots for fully vaccinated people, who are “frustrated people are not getting vaccinated.”

“So this is really about, he’s going to speak directly to vaccinated people and their frustrations, and he wants them to hear how we’re going to build on what we’ve done to date to get the virus under control and to return to some version of normal in this country,” Psaki said.

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