NEW YORK — The omicron variant of COVID-19 remains a top concern for the federal government.
This week, President Joe Biden released a winter plan to combat the virus, which includes an expanded booster and vaccination campaign, free at-home tests and a new testing requirement for international travelers.
Rep. Yvette Clarke, who represents a large swath of Brooklyn, joined PIX on Politics host Dan Mannarino to talk about the omicron variant as well as the Democrats’ push to pass Biden’s “Build Back Better” legislation.
“We are very concerned about omicron … our focus is really getting folks to get vaccinated, if they haven’t yet been vaccinated, and to get boosters so that we can protect ourselves against these variants,” Clarke said.
However, the lawmaker stopped short of suggesting a statewide or citywide mask mandate should be put in place despite the variant threat.
“I think New Yorkers have really stepped up and recognized the value of wearing masks. I think that we have to keep encouraging people, we understand that now is not the time to let up,” she said. “We want to encourage mask wearing in public areas so that we can protect ourselves and our families.”
The focus on COVID and the omicron variant in the United States could pose another problem for federal lawmakers, as Democrats try to get the Build Back Better plan passed before the end of the year. But Clarke expressed confidence that the legislation will pass in the Senate.
“Build Back Better is happening. We’ve got to get the Senate to act now. It’s great news that the infrastructure bill, the funding is now hitting the states, but there’s a full agenda under the Biden and Harris administration that has to be fulfilled in order for us to really emerge from this crisis period with all of the tools [we need,” she said.
On a more local level, Clarke said she met with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul in Washington, D.C. this week to discuss issues important to her constituents.
Clarke said the new governor was a “great listener” and they found common ground on what was discussed.
Hochul, who replaced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he resigned, has said she will run for a full term in office next year. Clarke said it was too soon to say whether she would offer an endorsement.