GOP governor thanks Biden for efforts to ‘depoliticize’ pandemic response

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FILE – In this Feb. 25, 2018 file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at the National Governor Association 2018 winter meeting in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

(The Hill) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Monday thanked President Joe Biden for his efforts to “depoliticize” the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as the omicron variant surges across the country.

Biden held a call with numerous governors to discuss the response to the latest COVID-19 variant, which is highly contagious and has led to a sharp increase in cases and triggered long waits for testing.

“I want to thank all of the White House team for being such great support to the governors,” Hutchinson said in opening remarks on the conference call. “And I want to thank, Mr. President, [for] your address to the nation last week. Thank you for your comments designed to depoliticize our COVID response. I think that was helpful.

“As we face omicron, the governors and your administration must be working together more closely than ever. I particularly appreciate your comments on increasing the supply chain on rapid COVID tests. This has become a real challenge for the governors,” added Hutchinson, who is the chairman of the National Governors Association.

Biden in remarks last week on the pandemic publicly thanked former President Donald Trump for saying he’d gotten his booster shot against COVID-19, calling it “one of the few things he and I agree on.”

The president went on to call for a unified response to the pandemic, urging Americans to honor their “patriotic duty” and get vaccinated.

Other White House officials later amplified Trump’s comments on COVID-19 vaccines, which he said have largely prevented death from the coronavirus for those who got the shot.

The pandemic response in the United States has been driven by politics dating back to the early months of the outbreak, when Trump and other Republicans downplayed the need to wear masks in public spaces. Many GOP lawmakers, particularly in the House, continue to defy masking requirements and have condemned the push for more vaccinations to prevent the further spread of the virus.

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