Harris on Calls to Shift COVID Strategy: We’ve Had ‘Progress’ and ‘That Is the Trajectory’

During an interview aired on Friday’s “PBS NewsHour,” Vice President Kamala Harris responded to members of the administration’s transition team urging the administration to adopt a new strategy that doesn’t attempt to eliminate the virus, but rather to reduce risk by stating that we can “at the very least, mitigate the harm to the greatest number of people” and the administration will urge people “to do what is necessary for us to get beyond this.” Harris also stated that while the administration welcomes input on how to accomplish their goals, the current approach has resulted in “progress and that that is the trajectory.”

Host Judy Woodruff stated, “Six of the prominent public health advisers who were part of the Biden-Harris transition team have today gone public with a plea to the president to adopt an entirely new pandemic strategy geared to what they call the new normal of living with this virus indefinitely, trying to minimize the risk.”

Harris responded, “First of all, what we know, without any debate, and I think all of us agree, is that we have tools available to us to address this pandemic in a way that we can, at the very least, mitigate the harm to the greatest number of people. And so, we are going to continue as an administration to urge all people who are eligible to get vaccinated, to get the booster, to wear masks when they are in public, and to do what is necessary for us to get beyond this. We welcome, of course, anyone who has information, especially those who are experts, about how we can accomplish these goals. But there are certain things that are without debate and really not even necessary for discussion at this point among people who are knowledgeable about what needs to happen, in terms of vaccines and boosters and masks.”

Woodruff then asked, “But is it time for a new approach? Is the question. I mean, this administration came in promising to get things on track, here we are a year later, we’re in the fourth wave. There aren’t enough tests, nearly enough.”

Harris answered, “We know that the approach, in terms of vaccines, boosters, and masks, works. So, I don’t think that that’s what we’re discussing right now. But let’s also talk about, to your point, where we are today versus a year ago. Today, the vast majority of schools are open. Today, we have a vaccine that the majority of Americans have actually received. Boosters, we are seeing great progress with that. People are wearing their masks. So, we have seen progress. We are seeing businesses reopen. And I think it’s important for us to see in this moment we’re still — it is extremely frustrating, there’s no question, for all of us. But we also must acknowledge that there has been progress and that that is the trajectory. But there are still steps to go. We have still work to do. And, in particular, around the vaccines and masks, we want to make sure that everyone is taking advantage of all the tools that we do have available to us right now.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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