tv White House Deputy Press Secretary Holds Briefing CSPAN July 31, 2021 6:06am-6:55am EDT
third, deputy press secretary -- >> deputy press secretary karine john pierre answered questions on covid-19 mandates and conflicting information from the white house and the cdc regarding the delta variant. she also addressed the united states policy toward cuba, the eviction moratorium and voting rights. this is about 45 minutes. presie
president met with governors to discuss karine: here is my mask from yesterday. wondering where that went. good afternoon, everybody. happy friday. i have a couple of things for all of you at the top. today, the president and the vice president met with governors to discuss the worsening 2021 wildfire season. and ongoing efforts to strengthen prevention, preparedness and response activities. this was a followup to the meeting the president convened last month with cabinet officials. governors from western states and private sector partners. wop americans safe and he discussed the actions his administration is taking to improve emergency preparedness and keep americans safe. the president and the vice president then receive and -- received an update from governors about the situation on the ground, they discussed what their administration can do to support state and local response efforts and ensure the federal government's response is a quick and effective -- is as quick and
effective as possible. driven by extreme heat, prolonged drought and change in climate, as well as decades of forest management decisions, the 2021 wildfire season continues to outpace the devastating 2021 season in terms of large fires to date. already this year, fema has approved 20 fire management assistance grants to help states pay for the costs of fighting these fires. the president has been receiving regular reports on how wildfires are impacting communities across the country and he will continue to close -- to closely monitor the severity of this situation. cuba. on cuba meeting today that the president is having. since the historic protests we witnessed in cuba on july 11, the president has been watching the events closely. as we have stated before, he's made clear that cuba is led by a failed and repressive regime and that communism is a universally
failed ideology. that's why from the the start the president has said that addressing this moment was a priority for the administration. we have said many times that cuban americans are the best ambassadors for freedom and prosperity in cuba. as part of that, today the president will host cuban american leaders at the white house to discuss the demonstrations and the administration's response. in addition, we also announced yesterday that the president is nominating cuban american frank more roe to be the next u.s. ambassador to the organization of american state a vital forum where we have and will continue to regularly urge the countries of the hemisphere to support a fundamental freedom, the fundamental freedoms of the cuban people. and i know you love these, the vaccination update, they are so great, we are happen happy to share them with you. today we recorded over half a million new shots in arm, the
highest number since the first of july. and the average number of people getting their first shots each day is up 30% over the past week alone. this is the third week that's -- that states with states with the highest cases have the highest vaccination rates. every day americans are making the choice to get vaccinated. this is an encouraging sign. we need everyone across the country to have a conversation with someone they know who is unvaccinated about getting the shot. this is how we will stop the spread of the delta variant and as we all know, save lives. finally, i have a quick preview of the week ahead for all of you. the next week. this next coming week. the president will continue engaging with members of congress to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal which will deliver historic infrastructure investments that will drive economic growth and create
good-paying middle class jobs. also next week, the president will meet with dr. eric lander, his science adviser and director of the office of science and technology policy, about his plan for preparing for future pandemics. on tuesday, the president will deliver remarks on the administration's progress, delivering vaccines to the world to fight this pandemic globally. on friday, we will deliver remarks on the jobs report, as you all know, the first friday of the month, and lastly, president biden will then travel to delaware where he will remain over the weekend. alex, please take it away. reporter: quick questions on congress. first, the eviction moratorium. lawmakers are struggling to find a legislative solution but they would like to see it extended.
i know you all said congress needs to deal with it but why not just extend it, have that legal fight and give congress a little more room to work? karine: as we stated, alex, to your point about pelosi, the supreme court said it could only be extended with congressional authorization. that was their decision. that's how they were able to strike it down, that's what they said needed to happen. this bill that pelosi is asking for, this would meet that requirement if successful. this is important. it's incredibly important to move forward. and so the administration is working, is going to work together with leader ins congress on a po ten -- on potential avenues to extend the eviction mor moratorium to protect vulnerable renters and their families. we understand how critical that is, how important it is, it has been a lifeline to so many americans here. that is a public health concern as you can imagine that we think
should be supported by both republicans and democrats. so we support the speaker's efforts and we will do everything we can to move this forward. reporter: on voting rights, can you tell us more about schumer -- [inaudible] karine: so as we stated, the president and vice president are hosting speaker pelosi and leader schumer at the white house today. later this afternoon. and this is -- they're doing this because they want to make sure they continue having the conversation on protecting the sacred right to vote because it's such an incredible priority for them. the president and the speaker, the leader schumer, are regularly in touch about this but they wanted to have this meeting in person to talk about the next step. this is both personal to the president, as we talked about many times, having fought for voting rights his entire life. he spoke about it in pennsylvania.
at -- not too long ago, just a couple of weeks ago. he's going to just continue having those conversations. reporter: and one more on the c.d.c. brief, the washington post showed the c.d.c. power point, it said, given higher prans missbility and current vaccine coverage universal masking is essential to reduce transmission of the delta variant, delta variant breakthroughs may be as transmissible as unvaccinated cases and risk of infection is reduced three-fold in the vaccinated population. president biden has repeated over and over that this is a pandemic -- [inaudible] his comments yesterday, was he being
completely upfront about the delta variant? the power point would suggest it's a little more dire than he laid it out to be. why wasn't that power point made public? why did it have to be leaked to the public? and lastly -- why aren't we seeing universal recommendations for universal masking? why is it just in various situations? karine: ok, alex, that was a lot. i appreciate the question. it's a very important question. i'm happy to address all of them. so since may, i just wanted to step back a little bit. since may the c.d.c. and administration have been crystal clear about the increased risk of the delta variant in our pandemic response. i just want to run through a couple of examples because this is such an important moment that we're in in fighting this pandemic. in may, out of the concern of the spread of delta, we restricted travel to india where
it was growing. that is something we did in may. so that, as you know, that was many months ago at this point or a couple of months ago at this point. in the month of june, doctors from this admin blitzed will call media and constituent constituency with a clear message, delta is a serious threat. getting vaccinated is the clear solution. that was in the month of june, for the month of june. throughout june, the president just signed and our medical experts spoke dozens of times to the threat of delta, the threat that delta poses. july 4, the president made clear that covid-19, quote, has not been vanquished and delta is a power. variant. this is what the president said on july 4. in light of recent reporting it is worth noting that doctor wo lensky said eight days ago that the delta variant is the most infectious respiratory disease she's seen in the last 20 years.
her 20 years of her career. our message has always been clear. throughout. we need more people to get vaccinated, to stop the spread of this variant. so we have to continue to make that effort. vaccinated and unvaccinated people infected with delta have higher viral loads, meaning more virus in their body than with previous variants. the last two did not have that. this is what we're seeing in the delta. high viral loads means you are more likely to spread it. in the rare occasions that vaccinated people get delta in a breakthrough infection, they may be contagious. this is what we heard from c.d.c. this week. so the most important takeaway, and i want to be really clear about this, this is critical for all of you who report about this and those watching, we should have, the takeaway we should have from this guidance and any followup reporting is pretty simple. we need more people to get vaccinated.
that's the answer. we need more people to get vaccinated. that's if we want to stop the spread of this variant and avoid mutations, we can. so we need to get more people vaccinated and the good news is that the vaccinations, the vaccines work. so we've got to get out there and make sure people get vaccinated. reporter: the president said those vaccinated and wearing masks could look for the fourth of july as the best independence opportunity. we now know the c.d.c. is basing some of this new science on a fourth of july party that happened in massachusetts where the delta variant was predominant. we saw the vaccinated people passing it and so forth. does this give the president pause about making recommendations about what the public can do because he encouraged people who were vaccinated to gather on the fourth of -- on the fourth of july. a group that did so is now a poster example for the c.d.c. of
what can happen with this variant. karine: the president has always said he's going to follow the science and listen to public health experts. that's what we do. that's why we're -- we are all following the c.d.c. guidance on masking. so that's our north star as we -- as jen has said earlier this week. the job of all of us in this room is to communicate the truth about where we are in the pandemic and this is the -- this is something the president has said from this day one. also highlight how we can get out of this pandemic. so the vaccines work. that's the truth. we know masks work. that's the truth. they save lives and prevent spread of this dangerous delta variant. so we need to help in communicating the actions we are telling the american people to take and getting vaccinated and wearing a mask, if you're in an area where there's lots of virus circulate, it's more contagious, you have to wear a mask. i know i have one more question i didn't get to for alex and i want to make sure i answer.
the c.d.c. released more data publicly or this data. so just wanted to say that c.d.c.'s first and foremost priority is getting the american people information as quickly as possible. vaccinated people have the ability to transmit and action needed to be faken quickly. that's why they did it ahead of releasing the data and they're going to do that today as i mentioned. reporter: why are the doctors not here in the briefing room to take our questions? why have we not had a briefing? dr. walensky gave a phone briefing to provide information but the public is eager to know more. karine: i would argue we had the president of the united states speak to us yesterday. he gave a more than 30 minute
speech about where we are as a country. he is a trusted voice, he's the leader of our country. reporter: he's not a scientist. karine: no but we heard from him. he we heard if the president yesterday, we heard from him about the delta variant and vaccinations in general the day before yesterday when he was in pennsylvania, when he was supposed to talk about buy american, which he did, but he led off talking about the vaccinations. we have had our doctors on your network, on many of the networks that are here, talking probably all of them talking about the delta variant all lout the last couple of days. so they have been out there, they have been talking about it. and yeah, we heard from directly from dr. what lince -- la wednesdayky herself -- walensky herself. we're going to continue to make sure we communicate directly with the american people and work hand in hand with local governments and stake owners as well. >> to follow up on all of that you mentioned the c.d.c.'s data
that was released on tuesday. i think the question is why doesn't that guidance match the internal memo's guidance? on tuesday the -- they updated the mask guidance to say you only have to wear it in places in a high or moderate transmissibility. the internal mem memo that was leaked says, given higher transmissibility in current -- and current coverage, vaccine coverage, universal masking is essential to reduce transmission. so one, why don't we the recommendations match? and two, should the american public anticipate updated guidance that includes universal masking and also new guidance about large gatherings and how many people should gather given what we are seeing from provincetown? karine: as you know, we do not make those types of decisions from here when it comes to the science, when it comes to guidance. that coming from c.d.c.
the questions that you just asked me, i refer you to c.d.c. about those slides and what you saw in the slides specifically. that comes from them and they will have that specific information for you that you're trying to get here. i will say though, i think the most important thing, and i don't want to get away from this because this is what's the most critical thing here, is that people need to get vaccinated. that's the answer. if we want to make sure that we curb this pandemic that we curb the covid-19 that we win this fight that we're in, we have to get people vaccinated. that's why the president calls this a pandemic for the unvaccinated. we have to make sure that we take care of each other and that they take -- not just take care of themselves but take care of each other. we're talking about our kids who are 12 and under who can't get vaccinated. we're talking about grandparents, right. we're talking about older people in our lives that we want to make sure are taken care of.
so that is, if anything, that should be one of the -- should be one of the main reasons people get veterans administration nayed to make sure they take care of their families and communities. reporter: have you reviewed the c.d.c. internal memos? karine: i don't have anything to understand that. reporter: it would be helpful to understand why the delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox pox or more contagious than the common cold, will they be addressing this with the public? karine: it is being released today so it will be available. reporter: one more just followup, of all the weeks not to have a covid briefing, why this week? karine: i know that's the question you all are asking me but the doctors have been on national television all week speaking to this. answering the questions. on your networks. so they've been out there
talking about, they're not hiding. they're actually having the conversations with anchors and hosts and answering the hard questions about the delta variant, about the c. deform c. masking. so they've been out there. it's not hiding. they are speaking to this almost every day. so you know, and we heard from the president of the united states yesterday for more than 30 minutes, a speech that many of you were in. reporter: thank you. reporter: building off your point, the vaccines work, then why is the president asking vaccinated people to mask up, if there's 0.005% of the fully vaccinated americans have had breakthrough cases. karine: let me give you the facts about the delta variant. it spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another and is spreading rapidly. it is across the country. and that is just the facts. two months ago, only 1% of covid
in the u.s. were delta. now more than 80% are delta. and so this is where we are today with this vaccine. so it is -- we are listening to the expert, the c.d.c. guidance and this is what they are telling us. if you live in an area that has -- that is highly contagious and that high levels, you have to -- they are saying, they are giving the guidance of wearing a mask to protect yourself, and to protect your community and your family. that is the guidance we're getting. reporter: some of the preliminary stuff we have seen from the c.d.c. says the new guidance for vaccinated people to mask up is based on data from people who got sick pearing in provincetown, massachusetts. has the white house seen any proof that vaccinated people are spreading covid who are not going to big parties? karine: here's what we know. i'm just going to repeat again. we need to get people vaccinated. that is really the answer here.
that's what we're hearing from c.d.c., that's what we're seeing from these slides. people need to get vaccinated. that's how we fight the delta variant. that's how we fight covid. reporter: the president said yesterday it is a question whether the federal government can mandate the whole country to get vaccinated. he said, i don't know that yet. does that mean he's asked the justice department to see if it's legal? to make everybody get a vaccine? karine: when he said that, the mandate across the country, you know, i would encourage you to read his statement. make sure you read the contents of his remarks. a national vaccine requirement is not under consideration at this time. that's where we are with that. reporter: but he asked the justice department to see if it's even possible. karine: i don't have any more to add to that. reporter: i have a question about the superspreader nefnt
provincetown. more than 80% of people there were fully vaccinated. doesn't that suggest that maybe breakthrough cases are rare. karine: that's not what the data shows us, that's not what we got from the c.d.c. we know the breakthroughs that do happen with vaccinated people are rare. right now, what the c.d.c. has told us is because they do know that there are some breakthrough case, we have to make sure we're masked. so again, we just have to continue to make sure people get vaccinated. that is the answer. that's how we got to move forward. that's what we're focused on here at the white house. reporter: so we're supposed to see it as more of a one-off event? an outlier? karine: what i'm saying is that what we're focused on, our message is clear, is that we want to make sure that people get vaccinated. that is one event but what the c.d.c., what the c.d.c. guidance tells us is that the breakthroughs have been rare. this is what the public health officials have said.
yes, there are breakthroughs but they have been rare. but the problem is that they ar. right. so that's why they're asking us to wear masks. where before it was the last two variants we've seen, we weren't seeing that. we weren't seeing vaccinated people pass that along. and so now, that has changed with the delta variant. that's how serious this variant is. that's why our message continues to be, please get vaccinated. reporter: on the victim moratorium, only $3 billion is actually out the door. what is the administration doing to help get more money out the door fast her. karine: so, that's a good question because that shouldn't be happening. we are aware that the moneys are taking some time to get -- some time, when they're out in the state, get to folks who need it, renters and lawmakers. what we have done is we made an
announcement last week that $1.5 million of that e.r.a. went out in the month of june and that was the most that we saw in the last five months. so we continue to work to make sure that people are being made aware that this is an -- this is in existence. this shouldn't be happening. states should be making sure that these moneys are getting out as quickly as possible. and so we, just yesterday -- just this week we had a day of action to promote the availability of the rental assistance which reached tens of millions of americans. last week the treasury released new data which i just mentioned with the $1.5 billion. what we know is these funds can continue to be disbursed to renters and landlords until 2025, so these emergency rental assistance are so critical so important, so we're making sure we continue to work with local governments to get that out. reporter: we've heard tens of thousands of people applied but
they're waiting. karine: i hear you. that's why we're encouraging the states to get that out as soon as possible. they have it. they need to get that out. reporter: given the seriousness of the delta variant are there conversations in the white house or between the white house and scientists, advisers, about more lockdowns, partial lockdowns or anything along those lines? karine: that is something that, i know this was asked yesterday, the way we see this is that we have the tools in our tool belt to fight this variant. to fight this vaccine. and we are not going to head toward a lockdown. we want to make sure that we're doing everything that we can because after passing the historic rescue plan we have the resources to make sure that doesn't happen. so our role again is to make sure that we get people vaccinated as quickly as possible. look, this vaccine, these vaccines are free, they're easy to get, never been easier to get
vaccinated. so that is the number one thing that we're trying to do is making that happen. we have the resources to do that. that's what we've been able to do this past six months. we've been able to get more than 160 million people fully vaccinated, 80% of that are -- are people who are over the age of 65. and so that's what we're going to continue to do and so our goal is to make sure that we are not headed toward that, that is not going to be the direction that we take because we have the tools to prevent that. reporter: can you explain, will federal employee's data be collected when they submit their vaccination status? and will the federal government be paying for the test if they do not get vaccinated?
karine: so that's how that's going to move forward, they'll implement -- the agencies will be implementing this program themselves. so they will be in charge how that moves forward. and so that's kind of how that's going to be disbursed, the program. reporter: another topic last week. "the new york times" said president trump justice department last year declared falsely that election was corrupt. do you have a reaction to that? the justice department, the biden justice department, what will they do? karine: so president biden believes that the justice department needs to be free of undo political influence and these revelations underscore why that's important. reporter: [indiscernible] just to clarify, it's still the
belief of the administration and the public health officials that these cases are rare? karine: so what we've been told by c.d.c. and what we know from our public health expert is they are rare. here's the thing. this is what we keep trying to say. is that we got to get people vaccinated. that is what we have to focus on. that is why we're seeing the delta rare yant and so that is what -- variant and so that is what is working on as the administration. the president talked about incentives and ways to do it in a robust way. this is the way we're going to be focused on is to get people vaccinated. reporter: that's my follow-up. it's very clear [indiscernible] there's no question about it when you look at the data. how concerned are you guys that people see a headline like that about breakthrough cases or transmissibility and it undercuts your efforts to say
vaccination is the answer? karine: if anything, we're seeing people are out there who are unvaccinated clearly getting vaccinated. that's critical. that's important. the numbers and the data show that. that's what we'll continue to do is making sure people can continue to get vaccinated. reporter: we were being tested every single day. i wonder what the white house testing is and if there are plans to wrap up that testing? karine: so we'll continue to follow the guidance that's been led out -- let out, that's been handed. our testing will be determined by the white house medical unit. we continue to get tested here, the staff does. so does the president. so that's how we'll continue to move forward. reporter: guidance, i think the current guidance is if there are symptoms if you're vaccinated. karine: we've also stated in the
past, when you're around -- when a staffer is around the president, they get tested. because of we're around the president of the united states, we get tested pretty regularly. that's something we shared in the past. nothing new there. we'll continue to follow what the white house medical unit entails for us to do as staff and for the president. reporter: on the moratorium, why did the white house wait until yet to inform congress it was done -- we need to extend it legislatively? karine: well, let me say about the eviction moratorium because this is important. we know this has a disproportionate effect on americans that are vasing evictions and lacking vaccinations and president biden whoo have supported -- would have supported to extend the eviction moratorium during this time of heightened vulnerability. unfortunately, the supreme court has made clear this option is no
longer available. so the supreme court's ruling stated that clear and specific congressional authorization would be necessary for the c.d.c. to extend the moratorium through july. so one of the things that i do want to say that we have been doing, we have had this whole of government effect to get the word out about the availability of the rental assistance and to support grantees ramping up their efforts. so that is our focus because we know that getting that funding to renters and landlords is incredibly key and important. so we've been doing that since day one. and now what we're saying right now, what we have been saying is we're going to work with congress to make sure that we're able to extend it. we support speaker pelosi and her efforts and what she's trying to do actually speaks to what the supreme court laid out in making sure there is a continuation of the eviction moratorium. reporter: you waited until this
week that they needed to do it. you effectively jammed them. karine: we have been having conversations with congress for some time about this. this is something we have been working with them about how to move forward. this is -- we'll continue to do that. we appreciate speaker pelosi's efforts. we'll work closely with her on getting that done. again, from day one, this administration has been working to make sure that we -- we really take care of the most vulnerable in this country who's been affected by covid-19. reporter: [indiscernible] the president said yesterday it's all about timing and recommend the d.o.d. study it. what does he mean it's all about timing when he said the numbers will get worse before it gets better? karine: i'll say this. the president is asking the department of defense to look into how and when -- and when
they'll add covid to the list of mandatory vaccinations for our armed forces. anything else, i refer you to the d.o.d. reporter: for civilian and military? karine: i know it's the department of defense. that's who he's been talking to about getting that done. reporter: ok. on a separate note, it was reported this morning that senator sinema, a key swing vote, said she will not be including -- to vote on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. what's your reaction? karine: i know this has come up and i want to be clear about this and what sinema actually said. and so i'm not going to clearly negotiate or anything like that at the podium but it's important to be clear about what the senator said. she's going to vote to proceed with the debate on the budget resolution. she expressed reservations about the top line, which she's been
clearly clear about, and other senators have said the same. but she's not standing in the way of moving this process forward. reporter: you've been clear about the position of the administration about the importance of getting vaccinated. i have a follow-up. a lot of americans do not know if they are in an area where there is a substantial or high level of transmission. while you're trying to get vaccination rates up, is it the position of the administration that local officials should bring back mask mandates? karine: well, local officials are going to look at the vaccinate rate in their area. they have the flexibility to put that into place, to put mandates into place as we've seen across the country. that is not our role here as the federal government. we are not mandating mask wearing. we're following, again, c.d.c. guidance and we encourage -- we encourage local governments and states to adhere or take a look at the guidance and make sure
they keep people safe, right, they keep their communities stave and they keep people in their states safe. so that is what we encourage. and at the same time, i will be a broken record on this, because this is true. this is the case. we have to make sure we continue to get people vaccinated. reporter: and a question with respect to the ongoing policy review. is there any movement on actionable steps, particularly, the president's plan to lift travel restrictions between the u.s. and cuba and make it easier for cuban americans to send money to their relatives on the island, both which are issues he campaigned on? karine: both important issues, we understand, to those cuban people. so we'll not preview any specific actions here. that is not something i'm going to do from the poemd yum. -- podium. i will say on the remittance, this is a complex issue that requires coordination with experts that will help to inform the administration's policies. so at the president's direction,
the department of treasury and state will form a remittance working group to review available options to establishing those channels. reporter: follow-up, please, on cuba, may i follow up on cuba, please? thank you so much. you may have noticed the protests last week across the street from the white house. i don't know if you or anybody from the white house happened to speak to those protesters. but i did. it's antidotal, of course. they say they see no difference between the policy of president biden towards cuba and the policy of former president obama towards cuba. is the approach the same of those two presidents, of president biden currently and the former president, president obama? karine: i will be really clear here. since day one, we said many times, many, many times, the cuban americans are the best ambassadors for freedom and prosperity in cuba. today, the president will sit down and meet with cuban
americans, leaders at the white house. that's what he's going to do in just a few hours, to discuss the demonstrations and the administration's response. so including applying new sanctions on cuba, cuban leaders, and establishing internet access for the cuban people. we want to lift up the cuban people, and that's going to be our focus on july 22. the treasury's office of foreign assistance controls sanctions of the one cuban individual and one entity for severe human rights abuses and oppression of pro-democracy protests in cuba that began july 11. so we'll continue to lift up the cuban american people -- the cuban people, and we'll have a conversation, as i mentioned. the president will have one today, and we'll probably have more to read out from that. go ahead. reporter: just following up on the eviction moratorium. you said you've been working
with congress for sometime now. is there anything you can share in terms of who you've been talking with and when that started? democratic leaders seem pretty surprise it's their responsibility. obviously we know the supreme court decision has been out for a month. so what can you share in terms of -- karine: i don't have specific meetings or conversations to share. look, what i want to be making really clear, we'll work with congress to get this done. we understand the importance of the eviction moratorium to everyday people, especially after what we've seen this past year with covid-19. that is a priority for us, and we work with congress on so many different issues and so many different conversations, and this is going to be a priority and so we support what speaker pelosi is trying to do now. reporter: do you have any response to congresswoman ocasio-cortez calling your handling on this reckless and irresponsible? the white house hasn't shown
leadership? karine: i disagree with the congresswoman. i laid out from day one, we have been working on the emergency rental assistance. we have been making sure working with local governments to get those funds out. just last month, we saw $1.5 billion in just one month in rental assistance which was more than the last five months. so we have been working very hard in a whole of government approach that we do here at this white house and administration and we'll continue to do that. reporter: back to senator sinema's comments. do the white house and the president support senate democrats scaling back the reconciliation deal? karine: this is a process we're going through. this is a negotiation process. we're going to continue to have to engage congressional members on the hill when it comes to reconciliation and also clearly the bipartisan infrastructure
deal. so we're not going to -- i'm not going to stand here and try to negotiate from the podium. i'm going to let congressional members do that. we'll work closely with them. we understand how incredibly critical this is. this is part of the build back better that the president put forward for this country. he's all in on this. he brought people here to work with both sides of the aisle to bring a bipartisan deal on the whole infrastructure. reporter: back to covid, i now he said it's up to the c.d.c. and health officials to lead on new recommendations. has the white house or president asked them to look at new restrictions, possible restrictions surrounded large group gatherings given the delta variant? karine: again, we follow the science and listen to health officials. that's how we move forward with that. reporter: hi. switching topics.
the biden administration earlier this week laid out addressing root causes in central america, including combating corruption in the region. it comes days after gault mala -- guatemala's special prosecutor against impunity was fired. the state department has suspended cooperation with guatemala's attorney general. [indiscernible] does this cause any setbacks? karine: thank you for the question. yes. this is something we are very aware of. so the situation in guatemala, look, it's important for us to make sure that corruption is, as we're dealing with the northern triangle, is dealt with. this is something i wanted to share with all of you if i could
find it really quickly. give me a second. i don't have it with me. but it's something we're aware of. as you can imagine, as we're dealing with the northern triangle, as you just said, it's critical when we're dealing with these countries and talking about how we're going to help them with the root causes. that corruption, you know, is not -- is something that doesn't affect the process that we're trying to make. you know, when we -- when we do deal with the northern triangle countries, it's not giving money directly to the government. it's working as well with the organizations on the ground. so that is also critical and important. and so we're going to keep an eye on that. we're going to stay focused on that as well. we should have more to share on the guatemala situation.
oh, my gosh. i totally forgot. oh, my goodness. give me one second. fun friday. ok. for our last question for our fun friday zoom, reporter hailing from black information network, vanessa. hey, vanessa tyler, how are you? we cannot hear you. can't hear you, vanessa. there are questions in the room, for sure. reporter: karine, the delta variant -- [indiscernible] karine: i don't understand the
question. reporter: [indiscernible] karine: we don't test it. we listen to the scientists and they tell us it's the delta variant. reporter: there are processes for that? [indiscernible] karine: i mean, that's what they are telling us. i laid out -- i laid out how contagious it was. i laid out why we needed to act on the delta variant. reporter: they say so -- well karine: well, they're the experts. these are scientists. they are experts. hold on one second. hold on one second. i just say that dr. walensky said recently in her 20-year career, she had never seen a variant that was so contagious. so this is 20 years of her career. so this is absolutely, absolutely a major, major problem that we are trying to
deal with. that's why we heard from the president yesterday. that's why we keep talking about people need to get vaccinated. so that is -- that is the way we're trying to move in this administration, making sure we are protecting people here, making sure that we're dealing with this pandemic in a way that is effective and that's how we're going to move forward. i'll take another question. go ahead. [talking simultaneously] reporter: in april -- [indiscernible] that would be done in a matter of weeks or months. [indiscernible] karine: so this is the student -- reporter: student debt. $50,000 -- karine: i think the president supports congress providing $10,000 in student debt relief and he continues to look into what the debt relief actions can be taken administratively.
i don't have an update on that at all right now at this moment. look, the department of education is working in partnership with colleagues at the department of justice and the white house to review options with the respect to debt cancellation. again, i don't have any update. we are going to have to wrap up. we'll have to wrap up, guys. thank you so much. thank you. thank you, everybody. oh, my gosh. can we hear you now? we still can't hear you. i'm so sorry. are you on mute? ok. so we're trying to -- we're trying to hear you and we cannot. have as ina -- vanessa, i am so sorry. i'm so sorry. do you want to write a note? all right.
vanessa, we'll try next friday. i can't hear her, though. i can't hear her. all right, guys. vanessa, we'll try and do it [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ >> c-span's washington journal, every day we take your calls live on the air, on the news of the day, and we discussed policy issues that impact you. coming up, top policy issues facing native americans with our guests from the national congress of american indians.
and kerry pickett talks about campaign 2022 and 2024. also for a spotlight on the magazine segment, in these times contributor and freelance writer, and their article looking at gerrymandering and how wisconsin is working to change the process. watch washington journal live at 7:00 eastern. join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, text and we. -- text and tweets. the senate -- >> the senate will be in later this morning for a weekend session as the text of a bipartisan infrastructure deal is being finalized. roll call votes are possible after they gavel in at 11:00 eastern. watch live coverage on c-span two, online at c-span.org, or listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> president biden announced new sanctions on the cuban