By David Shepardson and Trevor Hunnicutt WASHINGTON (Reuters) –The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday issued a new 60-day moratorium on residential evictions in areas with high levels of COVID-19 infections citing the raging Delta variant after having rejected an earlier push by the White House.
The order applies to about 80% of U.S. counties that have substantial or high COVID-19 community transmission rates and covers about 90% of the U.S. population. The CDC said it will expand the protections to additional counties if they see a rise in COVID-19 cases.
“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 cited survey data that 6.9 million renters were behind on their rent in June and suggested mass evictions were likely without action.
The new CDC order will protect millions of renters from eviction but is slightly more limited than a nationwide moratorium that expired Saturday at midnight, and is almost certain to face legal challenges.
On Sunday, the CDC rejected President Joe Biden’s request for a new scaled-down pandemic-related moratorium, citing a lack of legal authority stemming from a recent Supreme Court decision.
Biden had urged an extension so more than $40 billion in unused money approved by Congress to help pay unpaid rent can be distributed to renters and landlords and keep people in their homes.
More than 15 million people in 6.5 million U.S. households are currently behind on rental payments, according to a study by the Aspen Institute and the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, collectively owing more than $20 billion to landlords…