On a conference call Tuesday morning, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients informed governors that Biden is approving the extension of Federal Emergency Management Agency support to help continue FEMA-backed efforts like vaccination clinics and public education campaigns surrounding the shots.
The extension into early 2022 is an indication that after premature declarations of victory over the pandemic in July, the Biden administration is preparing for continued COVID-19 disruptions well into next year.
A White House official detailed the announcement to The Associated Press on Tuesday in conjunction with the private call to governors.
“This is an extension of the order the president signed on his second day in office and will ensure you continue to have the resources you need to get shots in arms and fight the virus,” Zients told the governors, according to the official.
On his second day in office Biden signed an order directing FEMA to cover 100% of state emergency costs related to the virus through September 2021. In August, as the more transmissible delta variant of the virus caused a spike in cases, Biden extended the coverage through the end of the year.
Over the summer, governors complained that Biden waited until mid-August to approve the first extension. The White House hopes the seven-week notice that federal support will continue will provide states with more flexibility in using FEMA resources and the National Guard to support vaccinations, particularly now that more than 100 million Americans are eligible for booster doses and 28 million 5-11 year-olds are newly approved for shots.