The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new 60-day moratorium on residential evictions for areas impacted by the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus Tuesday night after President Joe Biden changed position on whether he had authority to impose such a ban.
The new moratorium applies to areas where transmission of the coronavirus is elevated or worse, The Washington Post reports. The move circumvents the ruling by the Supreme Court that further extensions of the original ban from the CDC would be unconstitutional.
While not universal, the new moratorium would affect 90% of renters in the U.S., the Post reports — underscoring the degree to which the coronavirus has reasserted itself across the country — and last for 60 days once imposed. The CDC said its order currently applies to about 80% of U.S. counties and that it was prepared to expand protections to even more counties if cases rise, Reuters reported.
“The emergence of the Delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads.”
The CDC moratorium, first instituted in early fall last year and repeatedly extended, expired on July 31, with the vast majority of emergency rental assistance from federal stimulus bills yet to be distributed to tenants. Only about $3B of the $46B allocated for rent relief had made it into the hands of renters by the end of June. The expiration happened to come as the delta variant caused infection rates to increase everywhere in the U.S., and sharply in parts of the country with lower vaccination rates.
The increased danger presented by the delta variant led House Democrats Maxine Waters, Cori Bush and others to blast the Biden administration for allowing the moratorium to expire while so much rental assistance has yet to be disbursed, the Post reports.
Biden had said in the last days before the expiration that he couldn’t act to extend the moratorium, and he called on Congress to pass new legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schumer responded by saying any such legislation wouldn’t have had the votes to pass, explicitly placing the ball back in Biden’s court.