Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the eviction moratorium "is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads." File Pool Photo by Stefani Reynolds/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a new eviction moratorium for parts of the country experiencing high transmission of COVID-19.
The targeted moratorium applies to counties experiencing "substantial and high" levels of community transmission of COVID-19 as defined by the CDC and will be effective until Oct. 3.
In the announcement, the CDC noted the moratorium is intended to target "specific areas of the country where cases are rapidly increasing, which likely would be exacerbated by mass evictions."
"In the context of a pandemic, eviction moratoria -- like quarantine, isolation and social distancing -- can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease," the CDC said in a statement. "Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation and self-quarantine by people who become ill or who are at risk of transmitting COVID-19 by keeping people out of congregate settings and in their own homes."
Under the moratorium, tenants living in counties that improve their COVID-19 rates and do not experience substantial and high transmission for 14 days will lose their protection, while tenants in areas where case rates increase can gain protection.
The announcement comes a day after the White House urged landlords to hold off on evictions for 30 days as a previous eviction ban imposed by the CDC more than a year ago expired over the weekend.
"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. "This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads."
President Joe Biden said earlier Tuesday it would be unclear if the new eviction order would pass "constitutional muster" but said it would give states more time to distribute rental assistance.
"At a minimum, by the time it gets litigated, it will probably give some additional time while we're getting that $45 billion out to people who are in fact behind in the rent and don't have the money," Biden said in reference to rental assistance funding included in the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan.
Last month, the Supreme Court upheld the previous eviction ban. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that the CDC exceeded its authority in issuing the moratorium but voted to deny the request for its stay as it is set to expire just a month after the ruling.
Biden had previously asked Congress to pass an extension to the original ban, saying he lacked the authority to extend it unilaterally.
However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she would not have House members return from recess to vote on an extension and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., placed the responsibility back on Biden "urging the administration to pursue every area that they can extend the moratorium."