Jha said the focus instead in the Biden administration continues to be on vaccinations, boosters and making available treatments for Covid-19. To that end, he also urged Congress to take up a multibillion-dollar funding package upon its return from recess later this month.
“My hope is that they picked this issue up right away and make sure that we get funding to the American people, so that we can ensure the treatment, vaccines, tests, all continue to be available.”
Jha was also asked about the prospective return of indoor mask-wearing requirements like the one reinstituted in Philadelphia. He said that those decisions should be made on the local level.
“Some may choose to go down this road, others won’t,” he said. “I think that’s exactly where these decisions should be made.”
He also defended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to extend the federal travel mask mandate for at least 15 days amid an uptick in Covid cases. The policy was set to expire April 18 but will remain in effect through May 3.
“They say that 15 more days will give us a much better sense of whether these cases are leading to severe disease, hospitalizations and death,” Jha said. “And I think 15 days is a pretty reasonable amount of time to collect more data and make a more durable decision.”
Also on Sunday, Jha expressed confidence that the existing menu of vaccines continues to be effective against the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant that has become the dominant strain of the virus across the United States.
“Our vaccines are holding up just fine; especially if you’re boosted, you’re going to do fine,” Jha said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”