(CNSNews.com) - As President Joe Biden joined a COVID-related conference call with the nation's governors on Monday, he suggested that he doesn't see as much of his COVID response team as the governors do.
White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients was running the meeting, which he began with the following remarks:
"We are ready," he said. "Governors, can you hear me OK? Welcome, Mr. President, this is actually the 40th time we've convened this group of governors, and we're -- in addition, we're in constant one-on-one contact with the governors and their team."
Biden cut in: "More times than I've seen you," he said, apparently joking.
Zients barely laughed and kept on going:
"Their leadership on the ground, they are on the front line, as you know, has been essential to the progress we've made so far. I'm going to turn to Governor Hutchinson, who has done an outstanding job as chair of the National Governors Association, leading this group and ensuring we're all working together every step of the way. Over to you, Governor Hutchinson."
Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson chairs the National Governors Association. He thanked the Biden White House for "being such a great support to the governors." And he thanked President Biden for his address to the nation last week, in which Biden finally gave President Trump credit for his efforts to develop a COVID vaccine.
Hutchinson told Biden, "Your comments designed to depoliticize our COVID response" was "helpful."
Hutchinson also thanked the administration for its promise to boost the supply of rapid COVID tests amid the omicron surge. But Hutchinson did have some cautionary advice on the plan to produce half a billion rapid test kits next month:
"And so, one word of concern or encouragement for your team is that as the -- as you look towards federal solutions that will help alleviate the challenge, make sure that we do not let federal solutions stand in the way of state solutions.
"And the -- the production of 500 million rapid tests that will be distributed by the federal government is great. But obviously, that dries up the supply chain for the solutions that we might offer as governor. And so, just that as a brief comment before I turn it over to you, Mr. President."
Biden told the governors, "Look, there is no federal solution. This gets solved state level...And it ultimately gets down to where the rubber meets the road, and that's where the patient is in need of help or preventing the need for help."
Biden left the meeting shortly afterwards, departing Washington for his beach house in Delaware.