President Joe Biden spoke about the emerging Omicron variant of the coronavirus on Friday evening after leveling a travel ban on several African countries.
“We don’t know a lot about the variant except that it is of great concern; it seems to spread rapidly,” he told reporters.
The president said he chose to implement a travel ban to be “cautious,” even though he denounced former President Donald Trump’s travel bans as xenophobic and racist when he ran for president in 2020.
Biden spoke to reporters while touring the small town of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and attending the Christmas tree lighting ceremony as his extended Thanksgiving vacation continues.
He said the best response from Americans to the new variant of the virus was for everyone five and older to get vaccinated and get their booster shots.
“You know, we always talk about whether this is about freedom, but I think it’s a patriotic responsibility to do that,” Biden said.
The president said he was not planning to level a new vaccine mandate, his existing one currently held up in court.
He said the stock market plunge in response to news of the coronavirus variant was “expected.”
“They always do when there’s something — when COVID arises,” Biden replied.
When asked if he was worried about the stock market, Biden replied, “Not at all.”
“Why not?” the reporter replied.
“Because why would it?” Biden said.