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Fed's Kashkari sees pandemic hampering activity through all of 2021

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(Reuters) - Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari on Friday said he believes the pandemic will weigh on Americans through all of 2021, and emphasized the need for a speedier vaccine rollout as well as continued fiscal support.

“It’s a long time until we can get to the other side of that,” he said in a virtual town hall held by the Minnesota Hospital Association, citing new virus variants and the slow rollout of vaccines as making him more cautious over the outlook.

Americans will still need to wear masks and keep social distance through the end of the year, he forecast, delaying the return to normal economic function.

“It’s clear that the pandemic has a way to go and that many many people and many many businesses and hospitals need support until we can get this pandemic behind us, and get back to what we all know is normal, and hopefully strong growth from there,” Kashkari said. “The more that we are able to get the vaccine out faster, the shorter this pandemic will end up being.”

Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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