3:12 P.M. EDT
Q Mr. President, what’s your message to Americans on the new variant?
Q Are you concerned about the variant, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: You’ve already gotten my release.
THE PRESIDENT: I’ve decided that we’re going to be cautious — make sure there is no travel to and from South Africa and six other countries in that region and — except for American citizens who are able to come back.
But we don’t know a lot about the variant except that it is of great concern; it seems to spread rapidly.
And we’re — I spent about a half hour this morning with my COVID team, led by Dr. Fauci. And so that was the decision we made.
Q What about the markets dropping, sir? The markets have dropped significantly today. What’s your response to that?
THE PRESIDENT: Expected. They always do when there’s something — when COVID arises.
Q But does it worry you at all?
THE PRESIDENT: Not at all.
Q Why not?
THE PRESIDENT: Because why would it?
Q Sir, why not an immediate ban? Why not an immediate ban? It’s going into effect on Monday, but why not do it now, like other countries have done?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, because that was the recommendation coming from my medical team.
Q What do you say to questions about whether bans create an incentive for countries not to come forward with new variants if you’re penalized for doing so?
THE PRESIDENT: I’d say that’s ridiculous, because you can’t hide the variants. It’s not like someone could hide the fact that there’s a new variant with people getting sick more quickly.
Q Do Americans need to be more careful now going into the holiday season? You’ve been telling people to —
THE PRESIDENT: Look — I have. Here’s the deal: Every American who has not been vaccinated should be responsible and be vaccinated, from age five years and up — number one.
Number two, everyone eligible for the booster shot should get the booster shot immediately upon being eligible. That is the minimum that everyone should be doing.
And I — you know, we always talk about whether this is about freedom, but I think it’s a patriotic responsibility to do that.
Q Mr. President, have you asked the Fed to singularly focus on inflation, sir, especially with the new appointments?
THE PRESIDENT: I’ve talked to the Fed about a whole range of things, from monetary policy to inflation. And I have confidence that the appointees that I’ve made — and I’m going to have — (coughs) — excuse me — three more — are going to reflect that — that concern.
Q Are you worried about the situation in the Ukraine and the talk of a — of a possible coup?
THE PRESIDENT: I am concerned. Look, we support Ukraine’s territorial integrity. We support Ukraine’s ability to govern itself. And we object to any- — anything remotely approaching what’s been talked (inaudible).
Q Have you talked to Zelenskyy or Putin? Are you going to?
THE PRESIDENT: In all probability.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, everybody.
Q Mr. President, are you thinking of any new mandates, since your others are caught in court?
THE PRESIDENT: No. Not — not at the moment.
3:15 P.M. EDT