On Anniversary of Parkland Massacre, Biden Calls on Congress to Pass Gun Reform

March for Our Lives, Washington DC , March 24, 2018, organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On the anniversary of the massacre, President Joe Biden called on Congress to enact sensible gun reform (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On the anniversary of Parkland shooting, February 14, President Joe Biden, saying “This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer,”  issued a demand that Congress enact “commonsense gun reform” including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. “We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now.”

Here is President Biden’s statement:

Three years ago today, a lone gunman took the lives of 14 students and three educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In seconds, the lives of dozens of families, and the life of an American community, were changed forever.
 
For three years now, the Parkland families have spent birthdays and holidays without their loved ones. They’ve missed out on the experience of sending their children off to college or seeing them on their first job after high school. Like far too many families, they’ve had to bury pieces of their soul deep within the Earth. Like far too many families — and, indeed, like our nation — they’ve been left to wonder whether things would ever be okay.
 
These families are not alone. In big cities and small towns. In schools and shopping malls. In churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. In movie theaters and concert halls. On city street corners that will never get a mention on the evening news. All across our nation, parents, spouses, children, siblings, and friends have known the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. And in this season of so much loss, last year’s historic increase in homicides across America, including the gun violence disproportionately devastating Black and Brown individuals in our cities, has added to the number of empty seats at our kitchen tables. Today, as we mourn with the Parkland community, we mourn for all who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
 
Over these three years, the Parkland families have taught all of us something profound. Time and again, they have showed us how we can turn our grief into purpose – to march, organize, and build a strong, inclusive, and durable movement for change.
 
The Parkland students and so many other young people across the country who have experienced gun violence are carrying forward the history of the American journey. It is a history written by young people in each generation who challenged prevailing dogma to demand a simple truth: we can do better. And we will.
 
This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer. Today, I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now.

See also: Biden Must Put Gun Violence Prevention on To-Do List for First 100 Days

Experts Predict Most Significant Wellness Trends for 2021

Between the coronavirus pandemic and the specter of future pandemics, climate-change borne insects and illness, coupled with the advances in medicine and medical technology and the demand for universal health care and equity, there is new focus and demand for prevention and wellness and more focus on self-care. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The coronavirus pandemic and the specter of future pandemics. Climate-change borne insects and illness. Advances in medicine and medical technology. The demand for universal health care and equity. With all of these developments are producing new focus and demand for prevention, wellness and self-care.

In other words, don’t get sick and place more stresses on an overwhelmed and unaffordable health care system.

Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 69 percent of all deaths globally each year are the result of preventable diseases and that the global cost of largely preventable chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and more) could reach $47 trillion by 2030 (World Economic Forum, 2017).

In light of this, the Global Wellness Institute has launched a fundraising challenge for The Wellness Moonshot: A World Free of Preventable Disease,  a global fight to eradicate preventable, chronic diseases. GWI is a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower wellness worldwide by educating the public and private sectors about preventative health and wellness.

At its recent Global Wellness Summit (GWS), the organization unveiled the top nine wellness trends for 2021, the new directions that will have the most meaningful impact on the $4.5 trillion global wellness industry:

Global Wellness Summit Trends Report: “The Future of Wellness 2021”

In this report, wellness industry analysts and experts identify the nine wellness trends that will have the most meaningful–not fleeting–impact in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Hollywood and the Entertainment Industries Jump into Wellness
  2. The Future of Immune Health: Stop Boosting, Start Balancing
  3. Spiritual and Numinous Moments in Architecture
  4. Just Breathe!
  5. The Self-Care Renaissance: Where Wellness and Healthcare Converge
  6. Adding Color to Wellness
  7. Resetting Events with Wellness: You may never sit on a banquet chair again
  8. Money Out Loud: Financial Wellness is Finding Its Voice
  9. 2021: The Year of the Travel Reset (The year when all travel may become wellness travel)

Forecasting trends in the fast-evolving wellness space is daunting every year. In 2020, we experienced a global pandemic, economic meltdown, racial injustice, polarizing politics, and a mental wellness crisis that changed every aspect of human life­­. The pandemic made wellness radically more important to people overnight, while the coronavirus exposed the terrible human cost for not controlling chronic, underlying conditions, radically strengthening the case for preventative wellness. At the same time, there was accelerated fatigue with a wellness industry overly focused on elitist, hyper-trendy, evidence-free wellness solutions—which suddenly feel “so 2019.”

Wellness today is at a watershed moment. The trends report reflects how wellness is poised to take a bigger seat at the healthcare table (see “The Self-Care Revolution” trend). It predicts a future industry that will be more inclusive, accessible and affordable (see the “Adding Color to Wellness,” “The Entertainment Industry Jumps into Wellness,” and “Just Breathe!” trends). How it will basically “get real” and more evidence-based (see “The Future of Immune Health: Stop Boosting, Start Balancing”)—and tackle tougher, more crucial human pain-points (see “Money Out Loud: Financial Wellness Is Finding Its Voice”). And the report also predicts how wellness will continue to rewrite vast industries, from travel, to architecture and design, to the meetings industry.

This wellness forecast is based on the insights of hundreds of top executives of wellness companies, economists, doctors, investors, academics and technologists­ (from dozens of nations) that gathered in person and virtually at the recent Summit to debate where wellness was headed—making for a particularly informed, global set of predictions.

1. Hollywood and the Entertainment Industries Jump into Wellness

By Beth McGroarty, VP, Research & Forecasting, Global Wellness Summit

Wellness will become a bigger, more meaningful programming focus on TV and in the music industry. Big Media is digesting the huge cultural force wellness has become.

For wellness purists, any trend about Goliath TV, music and tech companies moving into wellness programming can cause eye rolls; It must be…inauthentic. But for anyone serious about “wellness for all,” more wellness experiences at Big Media platforms are a story of unprecedented reach, access and affordability.

A New Wellness TV

If wellness programming on TV (whether Oprah or the Goop Lab) has been about wellness as a topic you passively consume, the future is TV content and platforms that involve and impact you.

Smart TVs are baking wellness “channels” onto their home screens. Samsung TVs launched Samsung Health, letting people binge 5,000 hours of free fitness/meditation classes from the buzziest brands. The future: smart TVs (like Apple’s) that connect to your health wearable (like Apple Fitness+) to serve up personalized wellness/fitness experiences right on your TV.Samsung’s 2021 TVs’ “Smart Trainer” does just that: offering real-time coaching as you work out.

Wellness companies are becoming full-blown TV studios. Mega-meditation-apps, Calm and Headspace, recently scored TV shows (HBO Max and Netflix), translating their meditative experiences into immersive television. Meditation apps with TV series? Unthinkable just two years ago.

China is perfecting the marriage of wellness TV programming and e-commerce, and Waterbear Network is a new “Netflix” for climate activism.

Wellness Music Exploding

The ways that music is being created forstress, sleep, focus, a better workout, or just trippy, ambient bliss…has kicked into high gear. It’s a paradigm shift: If music has always been consumed around artist, song and genre, now it’s “serve me music-as-therapy (with a specific emotional vibe), exactly when I need it.”

The big music sites (Spotify, Amazon, Apple) are really ramping up their music-for-wellbeing content, making “wellness” a new listening channel. Think: rock, jazz, hip-hop… “chill”… “sleep.”

Meditation apps are becoming big wellness musicrecord labels.” Calm’s music division keeps partnering with more big artists for adult lullabies or chill-out tracks. Headspace just named its first Chief Music Officer and came out swinging by hiring John Legend to create its original wellness music.

More apps are launching, specifically focused on music-for-wellbeing: the new Myndstream app and label produce music to help people chill out, sleep or focus; Muru Music Health, the first streaming platform aimed at people over 60, uses AI to deliver tailor-made music to prevent brain aging. The Soul Medicine app serves up music all composed around a 432 MHz frequency, which studies have shown works to synch sides of your brain and decrease heart rate.

Generative music technology—where your biometrics meet neuroscientist-designed sound—will take sound-as-precision-medicine to radical places, moving out of start-up labs and onto bigger media platforms. Endel pulls your heart rate, movement and circadian data to create a constantly changing “sound blanket” to help you de-stress, focus and sleep. They have big plans, including creating “smart house” tech that constantly adapts sound, light and temperature based on your physical/mental state.

Celebrities are now all over wellness, not just as spokespeople but as company founders, execs, and major investors. They are a rising, not-to-be-ignored force in the global wellness investment space.

Sure, many dream of creating the next money-minting GOOP empire, but it’s more than that: Wellness is becoming a powerful way for celebrities to positively rebrand during a health, racial inequity and environmental crisis. More celebs will keep investing in wellness brands that tackle serious social issues—from women’s sexual wellness to bringing wellness to Black and brown communities. Selena Gomez’s new brand Rare Beauty underwrites her Rare Impact Fund, pledging $100 million for mental health services in underserved communities.

The future: more collaborations between Big Media (who know a few things about high-quality, immersive content) and the wellness world (who has done a far better job than doctors in getting people obsessed with health).We need binge-able wellness programming—of all kinds. A trend that could impact billions of lives and feels awfully overdue.

2. The Future of Immune Health: Stop Boosting, Start Balancing

By Beth McGroarty, VP, Research & Forecasting, Global Wellness Summit

People were blitzed with “immune-boosting” supplements, foods and therapies in 2020. The future: more evidence-backed approaches to immune health, with metabolic health, the microbiome, and personalized nutrition becoming crucial—along with more experimentation with everything from “positive stress” experiences to intermittent fasting for immune resilience.

We join many forecasters in naming immune health a 2021 trend, not only because we agree that it will remain a consumer obsession post-vaccine but because the main ways the wellness industry has been addressing it are…flat-out wrong.

First, the idea that you can “boost” your immunity is unscientific nonsense, and “more boosting” is precisely the wrong approach: A supercharged immune system leads to the body attacking itself, the pathway to autoimmune diseases, and the cytokine storm that killed COVID-19 patients.

Second, the wellness market has led with pop-it, guzzle-it, IV-drip-it, “immune-boosting” superfoods and supplements, none of which can change the complex immune system much. So many sexy products like elderberry-adaptogen gummies in prescription-like bottles. How did wellness become such a Big-Pharma-simulating world?

The future: approaches that lead to immuno-stabilization, immuno-balance. Most are the untrendy pillars of wellness: exercise, sleep and stress-reduction.

But with new research and lessons from COVID-19, some things become far more important:

Metabolic health: COVID-19 brutally exposed the connection between metabolic ill-health and immune dysfunction, as people with metabolic issues (far more widespread than obesity and diabetes) were more likely to get sick and die. The #1 thing to strengthen our immunity: refocus on diets that drive metabolic health (and stop the profusion of trendy ones that don’t). This means embracing some version of the Mediterranean Diet.

The microbiome: An incredible 70% of our immune system is headquartered in our “gut.” And new research from PREDICT (the world’s largest research project on how individuals respond to food) on the gut-immune health connection is profound, finding diet is the # 1 determinant of our microbiome (trumping genetics). Other new studies have found that the gut microorganisms of COVID-19 patients look radically different than those of uninfected people.

More people will embrace the generic gut-health weapons: fiber-rich, whole, unprocessed foods; prebiotics; fermented probiotics; and now even postbiotics are coming. New research shows that the same foods impact individuals’ microbiomes (and metabolic health) very differently, so labs are working overtime to crack the insanely complex, 100-trillion-cell microbiome to create better testing models for personalized nutrition. Two scientist-founded microbiome testing companies to watch: Israel’s Day Two and Zoe Global, founded by the doctors behind PREDICT.

Personalized nutrition: All of this means far greater urgency for personalized nutrition in general. The gold standard: advanced, integrated genetic, bloodmarker, and microbiome testing (and UCSF is working on). So many companies are putting together the pieces in the meantime, such as MYX Health, using one-prick bloodspot tech to test everything from average blood sugar levels to inflammation markers for tailored nutrition plans.

We’ll see more experimentation with:

Intermittent fasting: Research mounts that intermittent fasting can dramatically “flip the switch” on immune system regeneration. Studies also indicate that daily fasting windows and special “fast-mimicking” diets show significant, positive immune impact, but multi-day, water-only fasts hurt immune response.

“Positive stress” experiences: Human immune systems evolved around constant, short stresses (how we survived), but now we sit at desks with temperatures always tuned to 72 degrees. Voluntary “positive stress” experiences—hot and cold; fasting; types of breathwork; high-intensity, short bursts of exercise—are proven to have a short-term, positive immune effect. All will rise in wellness, from the Wim Hof Method to wild swimming to home infrared saunas. The first human clinical trial testing on whether regular positive stress experiences have a long-term impact on our cellular biology and the immune system is coming soon.

“Immunity travel”: Wellness resorts rushed to immunity programs when the pandemic hit: so many add-on, “immune-boosting” menus and IV drips. Now destinations will go deeper, more medical, and revolve around interventions that matter more: from in-depth metabolic and immune profile testing to gut health and personalized nutrition—such as Germany’s Buchinger Wilhelmi. Biohacking centers, such as BelleCell in London, are deploying futuristic tech, such as IV laser therapy and hyperbaric oxygen chambers, to target “cellular bioresilience” and the immune system.

After a long 2020, people are aware that their immune health is a holistic affair, that food and the microbiome are lynchpins, and that “slow” not “hyper” strategies are the difference-makers. People will keep gobbling trendy quick-fixes in trendy bottles, but they’re ready for more. A wellness industry newly focused on the hard—and fast-evolving—immune science could extend and save many lives. And help its own reputation along the way.

3. Spiritual and Numinous Moments in Architecture
By Veronica Schreibeis Smith, Founding Principal, Vera Iconica Architecture and Developments

In recent years, a storm of studies has demonstrated the powerful connection between the built environment and our physical health, and a new “wellness architecture” has taken off, heavily focused on functional design moves, whether circadian lighting or air purification.

What has been glossed over is design that can tap into and nurture our spirituality. In 2021, we will see new attention paid to creating everyday spaces that can incite sacred and numinous moments, that elevate our consciousness and potential, and ground us in gravitas in the midst of a mindless, consumerist society. Architecture and design will move up Maslow’s Pyramid, from our recent era of look-at-me, visually ostentatious fads (luxury McMansions that reside in the “Esteem” tier) to a new architecture reaching for the “Self-Actualization” tier—a built environment that can move our souls.

Thin places: We will see more experimentation with creating special “thin places” that dissolve the veil between ordinary, everyday places and the sacred realm. Architect Dr. Phillip Tabb has identified 16 shared traits, including transitioning into the space with a threshold, much light and luminosity, and the beneficial manifestations of nature. Thin places move us from the secular, overwhelming pace of our daily lives to a sacred, more empowered state, and neuroscience has shown that this non-ordinary architecture has the same impact on our brains as meditation.

Ancient revivals: Feng shui principles are well-known, but we will see interest in other ancient traditions such as Vastu architecture, which also uses techniques like orientation, proportions, astrology, placement of rooms/furnishings, and blessing ceremonies to improve human energy. There will be more interest in sacred geometry and BioGeometry to create spiritual spaces rooted in the math of nature. And we will see a revival of the temple in both faith-based and everyday architecture.

“Nudge architecture”: Nudge architecture is the concept ofdesigning cues into the environment that influence behavior while still allowing people to make their own choices. For example, placing meditation coves in workplace courtyards (baking spirituality into everyday life) or placing a beautiful stairway in building entries and tucking elevators into back corridors (baking movement into life). 

A Spiritual Home: We will rethink layouts in our homes that we take for granted, such as designing the “bath room” as an elevated space for bathing rituals rather than basic hygiene (i.e., the toilet must move).  Wellness kitchens[1] will be designed so that preparing whole foods becomes a joyful, relaxing ritual—and bedrooms will become sleep sanctuaries, thoughtfully arranged to reflect the sacredness of winding down in preparation for dreamtime.

The new spiritual architecture means we will no longer accept secular environments that disregard a need to uplift us emotionally, maximize our cognitive performance, bring us to the present moment, and allow us space to breathe and be mindful. Spiritual wellbeing is an inextricable part of a well life and rightfully deserves more design consideration and designated spaces in our homes, workplaces, communities and urban landscapes.

Just breathe. Taking a meditative break on a hike in Death Valley National Park (c) Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

4. Just Breathe! 

By Sandra Ballentine, Editor at Large, W Magazine

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to know where your chakras are or what a didgeridoo sounds like to do breathwork. An increasing number of clinical studies from major universities like Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins are putting science and data behind something we’ve actually known for centuries—the way we breathe has profound effects on our mental and physical health and abilities. It might even help us strengthen our immune systems. Many of us have heard of top performers (think leading athletes, elite military personnel and major rock stars) using their breath to aid focus and reduce fear at critical moments, but the beauty of breath is that anyone can access its power, even children.

This trend explores the people, the techniques, the places, and the new technologies pushing the practical magic of breathwork into exciting—and important—new directions.

Practitioners are bringing breathwork to ever-larger audiences and pushing it into fascinating new territories, including rehabilitation, fitness and community building and relief from chronic stress, trauma and PTSD. Breath artist, Sage Rader, brings modern breathwork to the masses with a rock-star delivery, alchemizing science and spirituality into entertainment, while Jasmine Marie’s Black Girls Breathing delivers meditational breathwork as mental healthcare for Black women. This trend looks at techniques, whether nose breathing, the lengthened exhale, or the “sigh,” as specific brain and body medicine.

Cool, clubby breathwork parties and festivals are rising, such as Donovan McGrath’s (creator of Amplified Yoga, one of L.A.’s hottest live music-driven fitness classes) plans to introduce Amplified Ecstatic Breath, a breathwork social hour (complete with mood-shifting lights and a live DJ) as soon as people can meet again. Hospitality is taking a much bigger breath, with more—and more diverse—breathwork programming everywhere from Six Senses’ global resorts to Chablé Yucatan and Chablé Maroma in Mexico.

If breathwork apps have been around, gaining traction now are handheld devices that track air quality and fitness/health wearables that incorporate breathing-related metrics like breathing rate, pulse oximetry, heart-rate variability and habitual breathing patterns. There’s so much action in breath-tech, such as Israel-based start-up Anicca set to launch its Companion device, which regulates the wearer’s emotions by amplifying the sensation of their breathing as a calming vibration on their body.

Certain breathing techniques can help strengthen the lungs post-COVID-19, and there are even studies that point to breathwork as a possible therapeutic for one of the world’s deadliest diseases: hypertension. Perhaps the best part of all—this drug-free medicine costs absolutely nothing. And with so many accessible techniques and styles to choose from, there really is something for everyone and every situation. 

5. The Self-Care Renaissance: Where Wellness and Healthcare Converge

By Cecelia Girr & Skyler Hubler of Backslash, TBWA Worldwide

From 1400–1700, the Medical Renaissance marked a historic breakthrough in our approach to healthcare. Science began to dominate superstition. Anatomical discoveries paved the way for modern medicine. And yes, vaccines were in development.

Over three hundred years later, we’re undergoing a new kind of medical renaissance. One where two complementary yet often competing entities—healthcare and wellness—will converge. Wellness is learning to lean into science, establish standards, and hold itself accountable. At the same time, healthcare is beginning to borrow from the wellness playbook—transforming a once sterile and strictly curative industry into a more holistic, lifestyle-oriented, and even pleasurable one. In this new era, hospitals will take inspiration from five-star resorts, yoga studios might measure improved telomere length, and prescriptions may be coupled with hyper-personalized guides to optimal health.

Promising signs of governments, doctors and medicine giving wellness wings for widespread adoption are already emerging. Over in Singapore, for example, the government is teaming up with the world’s biggest tech giant to create a healthier society. Through the LumiHealth app and Apple Watch, Singaporeans can participate in country-wide wellness challenges and access personalized health programs until 2022. 

On the other end of the spectrum, we’re seeing healthcare take cues from the more pleasurable parts of wellness. Even the most dreaded semi-annual appointment—the dentist—is being rebranded as a self-care experience. Think seasonal toothpaste flavors, massage chairs in the lobby, and yes—your favorite Netflix show streaming on the ceiling.

As we look to a future where healthcare and wellness converge, there’s no better visual representation than Octave’s Sangha Retreat in Suzhou, China. On the property, there’s a corridor that runs from one side to the other. One end is home to conventional medicine, and the other hosts wellness practices ranging from acupuncture to more “out-there” devices that measure the age of your soul. Visitors are free to flow between the two sides based on their needs. 

The corridor at the Sangha Retreat presents what we believe is next for healthcare and wellness. A kind of yin yang approach where two seemingly opposing forces finally discover that they can—and must—work together. As Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier puts it, “Medicine is realizing that its roots have come from wellness traditions, and the wellness community is recognizing that not all doctors are evil.”

6. Adding Color to Wellness

A personal and professional reflection, as a Black woman living in the US, who researches the wellness industry

By Tonia Callender, Research Fellow, Global Wellness Institute

Graphic videos and the protests of last summer prompted many businesses to voice support for anti-racism. While diversity and inclusion have become a popular topic in the wellness industry, mainstream wellness companies ignore Black wellness consumers and rarely market to them.

Moreover, the industry disregards the value that talented Black wellness professionals can bring to wellness spaces, limiting them to entry-level or maintenance positions. This essay argues that to generate substantive change, the wellness industry must recognize and address the false narrative that wellness is for affluent white people. It discusses how the industry can add color to wellness by valuing Black consumers and wellness professionals and describes the different ways that Black people actually experience wellness offerings and spaces, highlighting racial inequalities.

Unequal wealth and the continued effects of residential segregation, racial bias and discrimination hinder Black wellness. Lack of access to good education, clean air, healthy food, potable water, and good health care hamper this ethnic group’s ability to protect and nurture its wellness. When compared to their fellow white citizens, Black Americans are more stressed and less healthy but have fewer choices. Racial bias and structural barriers continue to force unequal wellness options on Black people. Most importantly, for many people of color, even the least costly wellness practices can be difficult to pursue. This essay discusses some of the obstacles facing Black people who pursue wellness activities while providing a personal perspective on Black wellness experiences. Whether appreciating nature or engaging in physical activity, Black people face a different wellness landscape. For example, when it comes to mental wellbeing, they have more stress and fewer options. 

This piece also provides insights into the future, illustrating how companies are changing the wellness narrative and giving suggestions for how the wellness industry can add color to wellness. The industry can support Black wellness by allowing non-white groups to also shape the wellness narrative, incorporating Black wellness needs into services, spaces and products and valuing black wellness professionals. Companies such as Fenty Beauty in the beauty sector and the Shine app in the mental wellness space have found substantial success by incorporating Black wellness into their products and services, and both companies represent the vision of people of color who reject the current mainstream wellness narrative. They have not focused solely on Black wellness but have incorporated the needs of Black people into their wellness offerings. 

Global consumer markets are becoming more diverse, and Black and brown consumers are witnessing increased purchasing power. Companies that value wellness for all racial groups and income levels will thrive as they expand their consumer markets and increase business innovation and profitability. Wellness enterprises that value diversity, respect Black wellness needs, and work to support more equitable access, represent the future of wellness.   

7. Resetting Events with Wellness: You may never sit on a banquet chair again

By NancyDavis, Chief Creative Officer and Executive Director, GWI & GWS

In mid-March 2020, the pandemic brought in-person events to an abrupt halt. And no matter the power of technology and the gratitude we felt for Zoomed Wi-Fi connectivity, the world hungered for personal interactions.

But there was a silver lining: a new trend that will forever change meetings and events was born, with wellness at the core. The trend reinforces top-of-mind topics like health, safety and immunity and employs new protocols and technologies that mitigate risk in engaging ways. In 2021 and beyond, creativity is driving connection—and how we gather is taking on new—and healthier—meanings.

As the months passed, conflicting issues continued to converge in the world of meetings and events: a pent-up desire to travel, the still-spreading coronavirus, the uptick in virtual technologies, coupled with the unending human desire and need for connection.

The answer? New hybrid events (in-person and virtual gatherings) sprouted like mushrooms after a spring rain. Technology companies raced to be the platform for hosting hybrid meetings. Investors threw money at tech companies, and within months of the pandemic shutting down most in-person gatherings, new companies had taken hold, and a new world was emerging.

Moreover, the pandemic also generated the opportunity to reimagine not only how an event would take place but also how it could be healthier. The spark that ultimately combusted for the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) was an idea to “reset events with wellness” in an authentic and powerful way—ultimately creating a new trend for 2021.

The 14th annual Summit was to take place in November in Tel Aviv. However, when COVID-19 hit, the GWS quickly pivoted to a “Safe Summit.”  The now smaller event moved from Tel Aviv to The Breakers Palm Beach, and a virtual aspect was added, allowing more people to attend. A former US Surgeon General because the conference Medical Advisor, banquet seating became wellness stations, mandatory COVID-19 testing and temperature checks replaced handshakes and hugs, and buffet breaks were transformed to healthy snacks presented for carrying away. Mood lighting was turned into far-UVC and air purification, reducing viral load, and fun was reimaged with a “Mask-erade” with Distanced Disco Dancing.

Over 100 delegates attended the 2020 Global Wellness Summit in person at The Breakers, and over 500 attendees logged in virtually. It set a new standard for meetings and provided a road map for the future of healthy events.

8. Money Out Loud: Financial Wellness is Finding Its Voice

By Cecelia Girr & Skyler Hubler of Backslash, TBWA Worldwide

Money has topped the “do-not-discuss” list for decades—right alongside religion, sex and politics. But it’s 2021, and transparency is trending. A culture craving authenticity is breaking the money taboo—transforming finance from a hush-hush, one-size-fits-all, cut-and-dry industry to one that’s more human, empathetic, and, dare we say, fun. 

This growing openness is being driven by a much larger mental health awakening. We’re moving on from the vanities of look-good, feel-good wellness and lifting the lid off the heavier pressures that are contributing to an unhealthy society. And with research linking financial stress to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, respiratory conditions, and more—it’s about time money is put under the microscope.

This growing financial wellness movement is moving money talk far beyond the bank. Financial therapists are tackling the intersection between money and mental health. Financial literacy courses are simplifying complicated finance bro jargon. And the three billion views of #personalfinance content on TikTok are proving that finance influencers are officially a thing. And the discussion is just getting started.

As the money conversation heats up, it’s being brought to the fore by those who have typically been excluded from dialogue altogether. We all engage with money daily, yet our experience with it vastly differs based on factors like race, socioeconomic status, age, personal values, and even sexual orientation. And though the majority of 2020 headlines felt hopeless, the year did bring promising signs of greater financial inclusivity. Jefa, a digital bank designed specifically for women in Latin America, and Majority, a banking service that sets immigrants up with the tools needed for financial success, are just two of the several hyper-personal neobanks that are emerging.

All positive progress starts with a conversation. In this case, the conversation is about money—how it makes us feel, how and why our experiences with it differ, and what ultimately needs to change. As the conversation becomes increasingly loud, inclusive and honest, the old voices will be shouted out by the new. We’ll begin to see the end of financial systems designed to profit from our failure and the start of financial wellness awakening. Money talks. It’s time we start using a language everyone can understand.

In 2021, all travel may have a measure of wellness travel. Seeking out restorative effects of being in nature, active travel,, travel sustainability with minimal impact like biking, hiking will continue to be popular (c) Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

9. 2021: The Year of the Travel Reset

The year when all travel may become wellness travel
By Elaine Glusac, columnist, New York Times

The coronavirus pandemic acted as a near-complete brake on travel in 2020. The pause gave everyone—consumers and suppliers—the opportunity to think about rebooting travel for the better by correcting overtourism, becoming more conscious of where the money goes, and how to use the enormous power of tourism to sustain cultures and environments and perhaps even leave them better off.

Looking ahead, the year 2021 may be the year that all travel becomes wellness travel. As home and work lives merged during the pandemic, work grew for many, prompting employers to emphasize self-care, beginning with vacations. Additionally, health assessments—including pre-arrival COVID-19 tests—are becoming vital precursors to travel. And vaccine passports are in development.

From the manic travel of 2019—which was the ninth year of record-setting growth in travel, outpacing global economic expansion—2021 will be the year of the travel reset, going slower, nearer and more mindfully. Fitfully too, mirroring the vaccination rollout, which has prompted optimism as well as tentativeness.

Some ways travel will be reset in 2021:

Making travel regenerative: or leaving a place better off than you found it. An example includes the Svart lodge in Norway, which plans to be energy positive, producing more solar power than it needs.

Challenging overtourism: finding ways to ensure that when travel rebounds, it doesn’t threaten to overrun attractions and communities.

Correcting undertourism: being mindful of the positive force travel can be by sustaining communities and ecosystems in encouraging conservation and local investment.

Tentative travel: taking cautious steps in travel to local and regional destinations before national and international ones as confidence in the health and safety of travel grows.

Embracing nature: discovering the healing power of nature, a movement unleashed during the pandemic, will continue as travelers continue to value isolation, slow travel and human-powered travel.

Putting purpose first: making travel more meaningful or purposeful, from planning family reunions to pursuing personal challenges like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

Eventually, the widespread distribution of vaccines is expected to unleash a flood of travel, though the date the dam breaks is hard to foresee. For now, 2021 will be a year of resetting travel as a closer, slower, more careful, healthier pursuit as we emerge post-vaccine.

The full 97-page Global Wellness Summit Trends Report can be purchased  here.

The Global Wellness Summit is an invitation-only international gathering that brings together leaders and visionaries to positively shape the future of the $4.5 trillion global wellness economy. Held in a different location each year, Summits have taken place in the US, Switzerland, Turkey, Bali, India, Morocco, Mexico, Austria, Italy and Singapore. The 14th annual Summit took place at The Breakers Palm Beach, FL, from November 8–11, 2020. The 2021 GWS will be held in Tel Aviv, Israel, in November 2021. 

See also:
Pandemic Underscores Urgency for True Universal Healthcare with Added Emphasis on Wellness


White House Forms Climate Innovation Working Group, Outlines Innovation Agenda

The Biden-Harris climate innovation working group will be looking at the agriculture sector to develop innovative soil management, plant biologies, and agricultural techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground. Already, farms,l ike this one in the Finger Lakes, NY, are becoming sites for renewable energy including solar and wind © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden-Harris Administration is initiating an ambitious innovation effort to create American jobs while tackling the climate crisis, which includes the launch of a new research working group, an outline of the Administration’s innovation agenda, and a new $100 million funding opportunity from the U.S. Department of Energy to support transformational low-carbon energy technologies. The announcements kick start the Administration’s undertaking to spur the creation of new jobs, technology, and tools that empower the United States to innovate and lead the world in addressing the climate crisis.
 
President Biden is fulfilling his promise to accelerate R&D investments, creating a new Climate Innovation Working Group as part of the National Climate Task Force to advance his commitment to launching an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Climate (ARPA-C). The working group will help coordinate and strengthen federal government-wide efforts to foster affordable, game-changing technologies that can help America achieve the President’s goal of net zero economy-wide emissions by 2050 and can protect the American people from the impacts of droughts and flooding, bigger wildfires, and stronger hurricanes. The working group will be co-chaired by the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, Office of Science of Technology and Policy, and Office of Management and Budget.
 
“We are tapping into the imagination, talent, and grit of America’s innovators, scientists, and workers to spearhead a national effort that empowers the United States to lead the world in tackling the climate crisis,” said Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s National Climate Advisor. “At the same time, we are positioning America to create good-paying, union jobs in a just and equitable way in communities across the nation that will be at the forefront of new manufacturing for clean energy and new technology, tools, and infrastructure that will help us adapt to a changing climate.”
 
As the opportunity for American leadership in climate innovation is vast, the Administration is outlining key planks of an agenda the Climate Innovation Working Group will help advance: 

  • zero net carbon buildings at zero net cost, including carbon-neutral construction materials;
  • energy storage at one-tenth the cost of today’s alternatives;
  • advanced energy system management tools to plan for and operate a grid powered by zero carbon power plants;
  • very low-cost zero carbon on-road vehicles and transit systems;
  • new, sustainable fuels for aircraft and ships, as well as improvements in broader aircraft and ship efficiency and transportation management;
  • affordable refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pumps made without refrigerants that warm the planet;
  • carbon-free heat and industrial processes that capture emissions for making steel, concrete, chemicals, and other important industrial products;
  • carbon-free hydrogen at a lower cost than hydrogen made from polluting alternatives;
  • innovative soil management, plant biologies, and agricultural techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground;
  • direct air capture systems and retrofits to existing industrial and power plant exhausts to capture carbon dioxide and use it to make alternative products or permanently sequester it deep underground.

 As a first example of the widespread innovation effort, the U.S. Department of Energy is announcing $100 million in funding via the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to support transformational low-carbon energy technologies. The ARPA-E announcement invites experts across the country to submit proposals for funding to support early-stage research into potentially disruptive energy technologies, specifically encouraging inter-disciplinary approaches and collaboration across sectors. 
 
“Today we are inviting scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers across America to join us in developing the clean energy technologies we need to tackle the climate crisis and build a new more equitable clean energy economy,” said DOE Chief of Staff Tarak Shah. “The Department of Energy is committed to empowering innovators to think boldly and create the cutting-edge technologies that will usher in our clean energy future and create millions of good-paying jobs.”
 
In addition to supporting technologies that are near commercialization, the Climate Innovation Working Group will also emphasize research to bolster and build critical clean energy supply chains in the United States and strengthen American manufacturing. As it coordinates climate innovation across the federal government, it will focus on programs at land-grant universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other minority-serving institutions.
 
“Today is an important day for tackling the climate crisis through cutting-edge science, technology, and innovation. The Office of Science and Technology Policy is ready to help turbocharge climate-related innovation, and we look forward to engaging with scientists, engineers, students, and innovators all across America to build a future in which not only jobs and economic benefits but also opportunities to participate in climate innovation are shared equitably by all Americans,” said Kei Koizumi, Acting Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

Biden Administration Holds First National Climate Task Force Meeting

Today, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy convened the first-ever National Climate Task Force meeting as outlined by President Biden’s January 27 executive order on tackling the climate crisis. The Task Force is chaired by the National Climate Advisor and includes Cabinet-level leaders from 21 federal agencies and senior White House officials to kick start the Biden-Harris Administration’s implementation of a whole-of-government approach to tackling climate change, creating good-paying, union jobs, and achieving environmental justice.
 
During the virtual inaugural convening of the Task Force, representatives from more than 20 federal agencies and offices underscored the shared commitment of every agency in collaborating and coordinating across the federal government to ensure the United States leads the world in a clean energy revolution that creates American jobs with the chance to join a union and builds back an inclusive, equitable economy.
 
Additionally, Vice President Harris dropped by the Task Force meeting to greet participants and underscore her and President Biden’s commitment to overseeing an unprecedented approach to tackling climate change at home and abroad, making sure that every agency plays a role and has the White House’s support in working together. A longtime fighter for environmental justice, the Vice President discussed the need to focus on those communities that are most vulnerable to climate change.
 
Agency leadership and senior White House officials also discussed the National Climate Task Force Charter, early actions, near-term priorities and key milestones, and the role of the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. Additionally, participants were invited to highlight the ways their agencies and staff are prioritizing climate throughout all of their decision making and how they plan to collaborate with additional agency partners.
 
As outlined in President Biden’s January 27th executive order on tackling the climate crises, Task Force membership is comprised of the following government officials:

  • National Climate Advisor (Chair)
  • Secretary of the Treasury
  • Secretary of Defense
  • Attorney General
  • Secretary of the Interior
  • Secretary of Agriculture
  • Secretary of Commerce
  • Secretary of Education*
  • Secretary of Labor
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Secretary of Transportation
  • Secretary of Energy
  • Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Administrator of General Services
  • Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality
  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget
  • Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy
  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
  • Assistant to the President for Economic Policy

Governor Cuomo’s 2021 Agenda for New York State: Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew

Governor Cuomo, in his 2021 agenda, said he would build upon the opening of the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall,  New York’s most ambitious transportation and infrastructure upgrade in decades, to complete the build out and connectivity of Midtown West with a bold transit-oriented development plan. The $51 billion plan will create 196,000 jobs, new outdoor spaces, affordable housing, improved public transit and pedestrian connections, and bring commercial and affordable housing opportunities to the burgeoning Manhattan neighborhood. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Cuomo’s Agenda is Focused on Defeating COVID-19 and Reopening the State Safely; Jumpstarting the Economy; Creating a Fairer, More Just State; Leading the Development of the Green Energy Economy; and Building and Strengthening the State’s Infrastructure 

Proposals Include the Largest Off-Shore Wind Program in the Nation; Five Dedicated Port Facilities to make New York a Global Wind Energy Manufacturing Powerhouse; Building a Green Energy Transmission Superhighway; Creating a new 1,000 person Public Health Corps; Safely Reopening Businesses and Bringing Back the Arts; Legalizing Adult-Use Cannabis and Online Sports Betting; First-in-the-Nation Affordable Internet for All; Expanding Early Voting; and $306 Billion Infrastructure Plan – Largest in the Nation – to Update Airports and Transportation Infrastructure and Redevelop Manhattan’s Midtown West Neighborhood

2021 State of the State Book Available Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2021 agenda – Reimagine | Rebuild | Renew – features nation-leading proposals to not only defeat COVID-19, but also tackle critical issues facing New York and the country, including jumpstarting New York’s economic recovery; creating a fairer, more just state; reopening the state; becoming a leader in the growing green energy economy; and rebuilding and strengthening New York’s infrastructure. Proposals include legalizing adult-use cannabis and online sports betting; first-in-the-nation affordable internet for all; safely bringing back the arts with pop-up performances and events; the largest off-shore wind program in the nation; five dedicated port facilities to make New York a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse; building a green energy transmission superhighway and; The largest infrastructure plan in the nation to update the state’s airports and transportation infrastructure, including a new Port Authority bus terminal, and redevelop Manhattan’s Midtown West neighborhood.

 “There are moments in life that can change a person fundamentally – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Likewise, there are episodes in history that transform society and COVID is one of those moments. We see the risk and peril, but we also see the promise and potential of this moment.” Governor Cuomo said. “This next year we will see economies realign and reset around the world and New York will lead the way. In a moment when nagging insecurity can either limit your potential or give way to the energy of urgency, necessity, and innovation. We know the direction we are headed – it is our state motto, Excelsior- ever upwards.”

Governor Cuomo continued, “New York is different – our DNA is different, our character is different. What COVID did to us is different and how we responded to COVID is different. We have a confidence born from accomplishment. We know what we must do and we will do it. We will win the COVID war and we will learn and grow from the experience.After the war, reconstruction begins. That is when progress is made. We must start our post COVID war reconstruction now. We can and we will build back a better and stronger New York. We have done it throughout history, we did it last year, and we will do it again. It is our legacy.”

2021 REIMAGINE | REBUILD | RENEW HIGHLIGHTS 

DEFEATING COVID-19, JUMPSTARTING THE ECONOMY, AND CREATING A FAIRER, MORE JUST STATE

New York State Governor Cuomo at Northwell Health on Long Island. The governor’s 2021 agenda is focused on defeating COVID-19 and reopening the state safely. In addition to expanding accessibility to vaccinations, he is pushing to pass the Medical Supplies Act and expand telemedicine. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Passing the Medical Supplies Act: The United States was ill-prepared for a global pandemic when it came to our shores in 2020. At the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, New York State, along with the rest of the country, faced a severe shortage of basic Personal Protective Equipment, leaving our frontline health care professionals vulnerable to contracting the disease that we so desperately needed them to fight. To ensure that hospitals had the supplies needed to protect their patients and workers, New York was forced to compete with other countries — and even states — to secure critical products from overseas.

To promote domestic manufacturing of critical medical equipment and to reduce dependency on overseas products, Governor Cuomo is proposing that New York pass the Medical Supplies Act to prioritize buying American-made PPE and medical supplies. As the Buy American Act, made permanent last year, did for American-made structural iron and steel, this new policy will help create and retain local jobs while ensuring the health and dependability of a crucial sector for years to come.

Comprehensive Telehealth Legislation: The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inequities in our healthcare system and showed that telehealth is a critical tool to expand access and lower costs for low-income communities, especially for behavioral health support. During the crisis, the Governor took executive action to expand access to remote care. These proposals codify and build on those successful reforms.

In partnership with the Reimagine New York Commission, the Governor will enact comprehensive telehealth reform to help New Yorkers take advantage of telehealth tools and address existing roadblocks. These reforms will address key issues like adjusting reimbursement incentives to encourage telehealth, eliminating outdated regulatory prohibitions on the delivery of telehealth, removing outdated location requirements, addressing technical unease among both patients and providers through training programs, and establishing other programs to incentivize innovative uses of telehealth.

Ensuring Social and Racial Justice for the Vaccination Effort: In order to ensure the vaccine is distributed equitably, especially in communities of color, Governor Cuomo created the New York Vaccine Equity Task Force. Chaired by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, Attorney General Letitia James, National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial, and Healthfirst President & CEO Pat Wang, the Governor’s Equity Task Force will assist in overcoming existing barriers to vaccination and increase access to vaccines in Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, rural, poor, and public housing communities, as well as other health care deserts.

To support the vaccine rollout, the Task Force was directed by the Governor to build trust and acknowledge the pervasive structural inequities that have contributed to existing health and social disparities, address language access issues, ensure protections of privacy and confidentiality, and develop outreach efforts and community engagements that are regionally placed, culturally responsive, and representative of all communities. As vaccine availability increases from the federal government, the State will establish in partnership with private entities and localities, public clinics to reach vulnerable and underserved communities.  

New York State Public Health Corps: While working to make New York the first COVID-19-safe state in the nation through widespread vaccination, we must also prepare for future public health crises. To support New York’s massive effort to vaccinate nearly 20 million New Yorkers and support other public health emergency responses, Governor Cuomo is proposing the launch of the nation’s first public health corps. As part of the effort, up to 1,000 fellows will be recruited to assist with vaccination operations. These fellows will include students in undergraduate and graduate public health programs, nursing schools and medical schools, recent graduates, retired medical professionals, and laypeople who will receive an intensive public health training curriculum developed by Cornell University. Bloomberg Philanthropies, Northwell, and our Department of Health will manage and coordinate the Corps.

After the vaccination program is completed, New York will build on this Public Health Corps model by continuing to recruit and train public health professionals to staff State and county health agencies and this Corps will be available and prepared to serve the state in any future crisis.

Free Citizen Public Health Training: To empower and educate New Yorkers to be prepared for the next public health crises, the State will develop a free citizen public health training program with Cornell, offered online, to educate and certify thousands of New Yorkers to be prepared to volunteer to help their communities the next time there is a health emergency.

Fight for Overdue Federal Support to States Fighting COVID-19: New York was blindsided by the virus in early spring. Despite vast agencies tasked with monitoring health threats, and months of warning, the federal government failed to respond to — or even notice — the growing global pandemic. When they finally took notice, the federal government was solely focused on China such that they allowed 3 million travelers from Europe — where the virus was rapidly spreading —to enter New York City-area airports and others. This was an act of gross negligence by the federal government. New York State led the nation in its response. Left to fend for itself by the federal government, New Yorkers bent the curve and, with a science-based approach, re-opened much of the economy while maintaining some of the lowest infection rates in the nation.

However, even as portions of the economy have bounced back, many sectors have seen significant job losses and remain severely impacted, all contributing to New York’s significant fiscal challenges. The State is contending with a $15 billion budget gap created entirely by the pandemic. For too long, New York has been asked to unfairly subsidize the federal government. As the federal government’s number one donor, New York already leads the nation in sending more money to Washington than it gets back in return. On top of that, Washington has relentlessly abused this state, providing the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rate in the nation, starving infrastructure funding, and curtailing the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, which raised New Yorkers’ taxes and starved New York of $30 billion over three years. After all of this, New York cannot also afford to pay the bill for the federal government’s incompetence.

Governor Cuomo will fight to ensure that the federal government takes responsibility and delivers the fair funding New York and other states are owed.

Pass a Comprehensive Adult-Use Cannabis Program: In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety, and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Building on that important work, the Governor is proposing the creation of a new Office of Cannabis Management to oversee a new adult-use cannabis program, as well as the State’s existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. Additionally, an equitable structure for the adult-use market will be created by offering licensing opportunities and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Cannabis legalization will create more than 60,000 new jobs, spurring $3.5 billion in economic activity and generating more than $300 million in tax revenue when fully implemented.

Enabling Online Sports Betting: The sports gambling market is evolving rapidly. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court in Murphy v. NCAA overturned a federal law prohibiting most states from authorizing sports wagering. Sports wagering is now legal online in 14 states, including the bordering states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, while it is only legal in New York at four Upstate commercial gaming facilities and Native American gaming facilities. An industry study found that nearly 20 percent of New Jersey’s sports wagering revenue comes from New York residents, costing the State millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

Under Governor Cuomo’s proposal, the New York State Gaming Commission will issue a request for proposals to select one or more providers to offer mobile sports wagering in New York. The Commission will also require any entity operating mobile wagering apps include safeguards against abuses and addiction. 

Create a Rapid Testing Network as a Tool to Help Businesses Reopen: Over the past several months, Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward reopening plan has paved the way for many businesses to resume operations safely through a phased approach and in accordance with public health protocols. While this has unleashed the ingenuity and creativity of New York businesses — such as new outdoor dining spaces and delivery options — it has also created significant financial struggles for these industries.

New York has been at the forefront of developing testing capacity throughout the COVID-19 crisis and will use that experience to help support the reopening of businesses. The State will continue to scale up the availability of testing to help businesses safely reduce capacity restrictions, as well as work with testing companies to stand up a network of convenient testing sites in city centers, starting with New York City. New York will also work with local governments to cut through any red tape to set up this critical infrastructure quickly. With this new network of rapid testing locations, a customer can stop into a new rapid testing facility, get tested, and 15 minutes later be cleared for dinner or a movie. This will provide an added layer of protection and confidence as New Yorkers resume economic activity.

Calls to divest police at Black Lives Matter protest in suburban Long Island and throughout the state prompted Governor Cuomo to demand localities work with communities to come up with police reform or lose state aid © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Facilitating Policing Reforms: This year, Governor Cuomo took swift and aggressive action to respond to community concerns and rebuild public trust in the law enforcement profession following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and far too many others. The Governor signed the “Say Their Name” reform agenda which repealed 50-a, banned chokeholds, prohibited race-based 911 calls, and codified his 2015 Executive Order that appointed the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for police involved deaths of unarmed civilians. He also signed legislation creating the Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office within the Attorney General’s Office to investigate complaints of misconduct filed against law enforcement agencies.

However, unrest and distrust continued to roil communities in New York and across the nation. Maintaining public safety is imperative; it is one of the essential roles of government, and communities require mutual trust and respect between police and the communities they serve. In recognition of this, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 203 creating the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. This collaborative process requires all local governments and police forces to develop a plan to modernize their policing strategies and strengthen relationships with the communities they serve. Localities are required to engage their community and ratify a plan by April 1, 2021. Failure to complete this process will result in loss of State funding.

Facilitating the Creation of Statewide Childcare Options: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how a lack of access to affordable childcare can disrupt low-income families and force caregivers, primarily women, to choose between putting food on the table and caring for their children. While affordability serves as a barrier to families securing child care, there is also a lack of general accessibility of child care programs, as well as insufficient high quality provider capacity across the state which can inhibit families from accessing child care. 

To make child care more affordable and equitable for our most vulnerable children and their parents, Governor Cuomo will invest $40 million to reduce the burden of parent subsidy copays to help approximately 32,000 working families. This will ensure that no New York family pays more than 20 percent of their income above the federal poverty level for a child care subsidy co-pay, with the rest of the cost of care being covered by the subsidy.

To ensure that all families have access to high-quality child care, New York State will invest $6 million for start-up grants to create programs in child care deserts; increase the value of the New York State Employer-Provided Child Care Credit by expanding the amount a business can claim for qualified child care expenditures to up to $500,000 per year; create a new toolkit to provide guidance and assistance to businesses looking to subsidize and facilitate access to child care for their employees; and establish permanent child care sector workgroups within the Regional Economic Development Councils REDCs to guide and inform council decisions. The Governor will also establish a new Excelsior Child Care Investment Tax Credit available to recipients of the Excelsior Tax Credit as a bonus incentive to create and provide child care services for employees and their families.

To ease administrative burdens and make it easier and less costly to provide child care services, Governor Cuomo will adopt the Child Care Availability Task Force recommendations to standardize and modernize the child care subsidy system to eliminate waste, duplication, and confusing rules for families. Specifically, the Governor will direct the Office of Children and Family Services and the Council on Children and Families to examine federal and state statutes and regulations to identify opportunities for reform and streamlining; eliminate redundant background checks that increase administrative burdens and costs for providers; and advance legislation to eliminate the requirement that individuals seeking employment at OCFS or in New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regulated programs submit a new Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment clearance form when they move to a new program.

Streamlining and Enhancing Work to Address Gender-Based Violence: Ending domestic violence and sexual assault has been at the top of New York’s agenda since Governor Cuomo first took office. Throughout his time as Governor, Governor Cuomo has signed extensive legislation relating to ensuring safety for girls, women, and all survivors of domestic trauma and abuse, including legislation in the FY 2021 budget authorizing law enforcement to remove guns from the scene of a domestic violence incident, and requiring judges to consider the effects of domestic violence while determining distribution of marital property. The Governor also signed the Enough is Enough law in July, 2015 to address sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking on college campuses.

The Governor is now proposing to take this work a step further through a comprehensive package of initiatives to combat domestic violence and gender-based violence. The package includes a proposal allowing courts to require abusers to pay for damages to housing units, moving expenses, and other housing costs related to domestic violence, as well as a proposals to create a domestic violence misdemeanor label to close the domestic violence gun-purchasing loophole to ensure abusers cannot obtain weapons who are convicted of misdemeanor assaults on a domestic partner. 

Additionally, the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence will be transformed into a reimagined agency, the Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, and will be tasked with addressing the intersection of the many forms of intimate partner violence, including domestic violence and sexual violence, in a survivor-centered and comprehensive manner.

Providing Rent and Mortgage Relief for Tenants and Small Business Owners: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented economic dislocation across the United States, and New York is no exception. The financial hardships arising from business closures and resulting unemployment touch on every aspect of life but are perhaps most acutely felt by New Yorkers in danger of losing their homes or businesses because they can no longer afford to pay their mortgage or rent.  

The Governor has already signed legislation placing a moratorium on residential evictions until May 1, 2021 for tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship. Taking this effort a step further, Governor Cuomo will codify his Executive Order banning fees for late and missed rent payments during the pandemic and allowing tenants to use their security deposit as immediate payment and repay the deposit over time, keeping those protections in place through May 1. The Governor will also codify his Executive Order to establish a statewide moratorium on commercial evictions until May 1 for commercial tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship.

Eliminating Health Care Premiums for Low-Income New Yorkers: The COVID-19 pandemic showcased the persistent, staggering healthcare disparities in this country and in New York State. Blacks, Latinos, Asians and poor communities paid the highest price for COVID-19. Higher rates of underlying conditions were a major driver of these disparities. Increasing access to affordable healthcare will help address these disparities and help ensure that New York emerges from the pandemic stronger and more equitable.

Through New York’s successful health insurance exchange, the New York State of Health, low-income families qualify for the state’s Essential Plan for free or with a maximum premium of $20 a month per person. However, families and individuals still struggle with the expense. To make coverage more affordable for low-income New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo will eliminate these monthly premiums for over 400,000 New Yorkers, saving families nearly $100 million per year in premiums and enrolling 100,000 New Yorkers who are currently uninsured. 

Continuing New York’s Liberty Defense Project: Launched in 2017 under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the first-in-the-nation Liberty Defense Project has provided more than 45,000 vital legal services to immigrants and communities in need — particularly those who have been targeted by federal immigration enforcement tactics, including those in Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals or Temporary Protected Status. The project is administered by the Office for New Americans and runs in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, colleges, universities, and bar associations across the state. The Liberty Defense Project provides free legal consultations and screenings for immigrants throughout New York, direct representation in deportation proceedings and other cases, assistance in applying for naturalization and employment authorization, and other education and support, including connection to social services and health care.

This year, Governor Cuomo will continue to support the Liberty Defense Project to keep fighting for immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families. New York’s strength, character, and pride are found in the diversity and rich culture that makes us the Empire State. We will continue to support and defend all who call New York home.

Strengthening and expanding access to elections is part of Governor Cuomo’s 2021 agenda (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Strengthening and Expanding Access to Elections: Building from New York’s previous landmark election reforms, Governor Cuomo has put forth a transformational proposal that continues to expand access to voting and improves procedures to speed up vote counting and add additional time for early voting. Specifically:

         Expand Access to Early Voting:Governor Cuomo will advance legislation that extends early voting hours from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on weekends as well as on a minimum of three week days during the ten-day early voting period.

         No-Excuse Absentee Voting for All New Yorkers:In 2019, Governor Cuomo celebrated the Legislature’s passage of a resolution beginning the process of amending the state constitution to make no-excuse absentee voting a reality in our state. In 2021, the Governor will call on the Legislature to act quickly to pass the resolution again so that the proposed amendment can go on the ballot to be ratified by the voters.

         Allow More Time for Voters to Request Absentee Ballots: The state’s election law currently prohibits voters from requesting their absentee ballots more than 30 days prior to Election Day. Particularly in elections with large numbers of absentee voters, this timeline may make it difficult for county boards of elections to process ballot requests in a timely and efficient manner. This, in turn, provides voters with less time to receive their ballots, vote, and mail them back. Governor Cuomo will advance legislation allowing voters to request absentee ballots 45 days prior to the election, ensuring they can be mailed as soon as the ballot is finalized and approved by the Board.

         Speed Up the Counting of Absentee Ballots:New York State’s election law does not facilitate the speedy counting of large numbers of absentee ballots – the law only requires that boards of elections meet to process and count ballots within two weeks of a general election and within eight days of a primary election. To ensure that New York State counts absentee votes quickly and efficiently after each election, Governor Cuomo will introduce legislation requiring county boards of elections to process absentee ballots as they are received and to begin counting and reporting those ballots on Election Day.

Creatively Repurposing Underutilized Commercial Space for Additional Housing: As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, New York, like states across the country, has seen an increase in telework and a reduction in travel. New York City must, and will, remain a global commercial hub, by ensuring that its central business district remains the paramount location for the world’s most innovative and successful businesses and their employees. Reduced demand for office and hotel space has created an opportunity to repurpose formerly commercial space that has far greater potential for use as housing, including affordable and supportive housing, to create dynamic, 24/7 walk-to-work neighborhoods.

Governor Cuomo will propose legislation to allow property owners to convert office buildings and hotels in New York to residential use. Stimulating housing conversion will create thousands of good-paying jobs, increase housing affordability, and support long-term economic growth by helping New York’s employers attract and retain talent. 

Ensuring Safe Shelters and Providing Sustained Care for Homeless on the Street: Governor Cuomo has been a leader in protecting and serving homeless New Yorkers throughout his entire career, and he took action during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure they received the support and care they need. In September, Governor Cuomo directed the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to issue guidance to all social services 

REOPENING SAFELY AND SMARTLY FOLLOWING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Safely Bringing Back the Arts with Pop-Up Performances and Events: New York is the cultural capital of the world. Our unique cultural assets — Broadway, museums, film, comedy, dance, and music — are fundamental to both the economy and the spirit of New York. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the $120 billion arts and cultural sector accounted for nearly eight percent of the state’s economy, and nearly 500,000 jobs. In less than a year, over two million jobs in the creative arts were lost nationally, including tens of thousands of jobs in New York.

New York State will launch a public-private partnership that will organize “pop-up” performances and arts events across the state beginning in February. More than 150 world-class artists including Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Renée Fleming, Wynton Marsalis, and Hugh Jackman will participate, along with arts organizations such as the Ballet Hispanico, Ars Nova, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the National Black Theatre, Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake, and many others supported by New York State Council on the Arts, which works with over 2,000 arts organizations across the state.

Supporting New York Artists Through the Creatives Rebuild Initiative: The State will partner with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch a Creatives Rebuild initiative. Developed in partnership with the Reimagine New York Commission, this initiative will put back to work 1,000 artists who have been impacted by the crisis and will invest in dozens of small arts organizations that make our towns and cities so dynamic. Arts have a multiplying effect on the economy. Creatives Rebuild will provide New York artists support so they can help build more vibrant communities across New York.

First-in-the-Nation Affordable Internet for All Low-Income Families: When the COVID-19 virus first came to New York and then quickly began to spread throughout our communities, students and adults alike had to adapt to remote learning and remote work to keep each other safe. Immediately, it became clear that universal broadband was a prerequisite for success in a remote world. Currently, a basic high-speed internet plan costs, on average, more than $50 a month. Governor Cuomo will propose first-in-the-nation legislation requiring internet service providers to offer an affordable $15 per month high speed internet plan to all low-income households. The State will also require providers to advertise this plan to ensure programs reach underserved populations across the State. To further bridge the gap, the State will partner with Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation to launch a new hardship fund to pay for internet subscriptions for our most in need students who cannot afford $15 per month during this crisis. 

After nearly $500 million dollars invested to expand broadband internet to 98 percent of the state, New York will also lead the nation in making broadband affordable. Without affordable broadband, people are not only disconnected, they are disenfranchised. The Reimagine New York Commission reported to the Governor that high-quality, affordable broadband must be available to everyone and in New York we will make sure it is.

Partner with New York Businesses to Invest in Workforce Training, Expand Apprenticeships and Mentorships, and Reform Recruitment and Promotion Policies: The COVID-19 health emergency has pushed many New Yorkers out of work, with the greatest losses impacting lower and middle-income households. Equally important is the demand side of the workforce equation: Businesses must help design programs to meet skill gaps and commit to hiring workers once training is complete. 

In partnership with the Governor’s Reimagine New York Commission, New York is launching a Pathways Pledge among New York’s leading employers, both public and private, to commit to reforming their talent recruitment, investment, and promotion policies and ensure more equitable workforces post-COVID-19. To date, 16 companies have made the pledge, affecting more than 120,000 workers in New York State. In 2021, New York State plans to triple that commitment. 

Participating employers have committed to at least two of the following: Investing in workforce retraining; creating apprenticeship opportunities for underrepresented populations; providing additional supports for low-income trainees in the form of child care or transportation subsidies; removing high school or postsecondary degree requirements for new hires; scaling relationships with existing workforce development partners to provide adequate time off for interviews and professional development opportunities, and develop new relationships with New York State providers serving underserved communities.

Provide Scholarships to Low-Income Workers for Workforce Training Programs: While many in the New York community colleges, nonprofits, or business training providers offer workforce training, workers who do not qualify for current college subsidies must pay the full cost. This can be a barrier to entry into the training opportunities needed to achieve higher wages and break into growing industries.

As New York builds back better, Governor Cuomo is announcing nearly $5 million in scholarships to create more opportunities for low-income, working New Yorkers to enter the middle class. Like the successful Excelsior Scholarship which launched in 2017, this program will make high-quality credential programs free for low-income New Yorkers, empowering them to earn credentials that will lead to middle-class jobs in high-demand industries.  

Expand SUNY’s Online Training Center to Close Skills Gaps and Fill High Demand Jobs: The COVID-19 public health crisis has led to an economic crisis across New York State and the world. The working class was particularly hard hit with leisure and hospitality, trade and logistics, and retail industries facing unprecedented revenue losses. As workers seek new job opportunities, non-degree certification credential programs can be an important way to close skills gaps and fill high demand jobs.

Governor Cuomo will expand SUNY’s free Online Training Center so New Yorkers can enroll in additional employment certification programs for quality jobs in high-demand growing industries, like health care and advanced manufacturing. The Training Center will give more New Yorkers in every region of the state — from rural communities to urban centers — another opportunity to receive free job training certifications and then automatically be admitted to any one of SUNY’s 30 community colleges for future career advancements

Convene a Commission on the Future of New York’s Economy: Governor Cuomo will establish the Commission on the Future of New York’s Economy to put forth a roadmap to address the underlying inequities exposed by the COVID-19 crisis, — including the socio-economic disparities that the crisis exacerbated — get New York back to work in jobs that pay well and continue to attract people from around the world to live and work in New York. The Commission will be composed of leading members of the nation’s academic, business, labor, and civil society leaders. NYU Wagner School of Public Service Dean Sherry Glied will serve as Executive Director of this Commission. 

GROWING THE GREEN ENERGY ECONOMY

Long Islanders protest to win LIPA’s approval of offshore wind farms in 2016. Governor Cuomo announced two of the largest offshore wind projects in the nation that will are being built off Montauk and the south shore of Long Island that will produce 2490 megawatts of carbon-free energy and $8.9 billion in investment © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Largest Offshore Wind Program in the Nation: In 2021, New York will continue to build out its nation-leading green economic recovery and accelerate renewable energy development programs. The state will contract with Equinor Wind US LLC for the development of two new offshore wind farms more than 20 miles off the shore of Long Island, in what is the largest procurement of renewable energy by a state in U.S. history. Upon completion, the two offshore wind farms will yield a combined 2,490 megawatts of carbon-free energy, bring another $8.9 billion in investment, and create more than 5,200 jobs. 

Once the large-scale renewable and offshore wind farms are complete, more than half of New York’s electricity will come from renewable sources, putting the state ahead of schedule toward reaching its goal of 70 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Global Wind Energy Manufacturing Powerhouse: New York has secured commitments from companies to manufacture wind turbine components within the state and build the nation’s largest offshore wind program. Plans to make New York State a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse include upgrades to create five dedicated port facilities, including:  

         The nation’s first offshore wind tower-manufacturing facility to be built at the Port of Albany. 

         An offshore wind turbine staging facility and operations and maintenance hub to be established at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. 

         Increasing the use of the Port of Coeymans for cutting-edge turbine foundation manufacturing, and

         Buttressing the ongoing operations and maintenance out of Port Jefferson and Port of Montauk Harbor in Long Island.

The projects will leverage almost $3 of private funding for every $1 of public funding, for a combined $644 million investment in these port facilities, and will ultimately yield 2,600 short- and long-term jobs in the offshore wind industry.

Construct New York’s Green Energy Transmission Superhighway: As New York builds substantial capacity to generate clean energy Upstate, the next challenge is to create a modern transmission system capable of delivering this electricity efficiently to high-demand areas Downstate. Last year, New Yorkers utility bills reflected approximately $1 billion in unnecessary “congestion costs” because of bottlenecks on our antiquated transmission grid. 

 In 2021, New York State will construct a new green energy superhighway of 250 miles. The $2 billion project will create opportunities to maximize the use of renewable energy for the parts of the state that still rely on polluting fossil-fuel plants. Construction has already started on the New York Power Authority’s 86-mile Smart Path project from Massena to Croghan, and construction will soon start on several key projects in Western New York, Mid-Hudson, and the Capital Region. 

New York has issued a Request for Proposals for transmission arteries to bring renewable energy from Upstate and Canada to New York City. Supercharging the new transmission superhighway will be vital to completing New York’s nation-leading green economic recovery and accelerating renewable energy development programs. Current and planned investments will result in more than 1,000 jobs and $5 billion of public and private sector investment.

Solar panel array on a farm in the Finger Lakes, New York. Cuomo is advocating public-private partnerships to build nearly 100 renewable energy projects © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Public-Private Partnership to Build Nearly 100 Renewable Energy Projects: New York’s clean energy transformation has accelerated rapidly over the past five years. During this period, the State has contracted for the construction of 68 new large-scale renewable energy facilities including solar farms, onshore wind farms, and three offshore wind farms that are among the largest in the nation. These investments in renewable energy have brought economic activity to 34 distinct counties, will add 6,100 megawatts of clean energy capacity to the state’s infrastructure, and generate investment of more than $12 billion.

To build on this remarkable progress, New York will contract for another 24 large-scale renewable energy generation projects in 2021, to bring the State’s total clean energy build-out to nearly 100 projects. The 23 solar farms and one hydroelectric facility will be the most cost-efficient clean energy construction to date in New York, producing more than 2,200 megawatts of clean power, generating more than $2.9 billion of investment and creating 3,400 jobs in 16 counties Upstate. 

Energy Storage Projects: New York will continue to develop and deploy state-of-the-art renewable energy storage technology and facilities to generate electricity, build the capacity for storage, and help the state achieve its ambitious climate plans. To that end, the New York Power Authority has already begun construction on a large-scale, 20-megawatt battery storage project in Northern New York, one of the largest storage projects in the State’s growing portfolio of almost 1,000 megawatts of contracted storage projects. These projects will help meet the electricity demands of 1.2 million New York homes using renewable energy. In addition, these projects will help continue propelling this fast-growing job sector.

Train the Green Energy Workforce: New York’s accelerated renewable energy development program is creating thousands of well-paying jobs.  To make sure all New Yorkers benefit directly from growth in this sector, the State is investing $20 million in a new Offshore Wind Training Institute based at SUNY Stony Brook and Farmingdale State College. The Institute will train at least 2,500 New Yorkers for good-paying jobs in wind and renewable. energy. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the State University of New York has issued the first solicitation for advanced technology training partners to leverage our SUNY system and train the first group of workers beginning in the summer of 2021.

New York is also investing $700 million in building electrification solutions for approximately 130,000 buildings in the state, including a variety of heat pump technologies, and the training of 14,000 workers for the new heat pump markets.. Approximately 25 percent of the workers trained will be from disadvantaged communities or priority populations. 

Combined with our efforts in the buildings and transportation sectors, our entire green economy recovery will create 12,400 megawatts of green energy to power 6 million homes, directly create over 50,000 jobs, and spur more than $29 billion in public and private investment, while delivering to environmental justice communities and benefiting all New Yorkers by securing our carbon-free climate future.

BUILDING AND STRENGTHENING NEW YORK’S INFRASTRUCTURE

Governor Cuomo said he would build upon the opening of the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall,  New York’s most ambitious transportation and infrastructure upgrade in decades, as an example of New York State’s “can-do,” forward-looking attitude fundamental to his “Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew” agenda © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Midtown West Redevelopment in New York City: New York State has long led some of New York City’s most successful and transformational macro-development projects, from Battery Park City to Roosevelt Island, to the transformation of Times Square. This year, the Governor has already announced the opening of the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall,  New York’s most ambitious transportation and infrastructure upgrade in decades, and plans to extend the High Line to Moynihan Train Hall.  In 2021, New York State will build on that progress to complete the buildout and connectivity of Midtown West with a bold transit-oriented development plan. The $51 billion plan will create 196,000 jobs, new outdoor spaces, affordable housing, improved public transit and pedestrian connections, and bring commercial and affordable housing opportunities to the burgeoning Manhattan neighborhood. The multi-faceted plan includes:

         Replacing the Port Authority Bus Terminal:The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will replace the outdated terminal with a new state-of-the-art facility to better serve the over a quarter million daily passengers. The project will not only reduce congestion on city streets and improve air quality but will transform mass transit to and from the West Side of Manhattan. Renderings of the future bus terminal are available here.

         Developing the Empire Station ComplexWith the completion of the Moynihan Train Hall, which opened to the public on January 1, 2021, the State will turn its attention to the existing Penn Station, just across the street. The State will start on a comprehensive $16 billion project to reconstruct the existing station and add track capacity. By acquiring property south of Penn Station, we can expand the complex to 40 percent more train capacity and at least eight additional underground tracks to cut down on delays and improve operations for the more than 600,000 passengers it serves daily. Renderings for the reconstruction of the existing station can be found here.

The signature transportation project will create nearly 60,000 direct jobs, and New York State stands ready to work with New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, and the federal government to share in this historic investment for the future of the region. The transformation of Penn Station also anticipates the Gateway Project, including two tunnels to bring more trains across the Hudson from the west and the renovation of the two existing tunnels, for a total of four train tunnels from New Jersey and beyond.

         Affordable Housing and Community Restoration: With the new transportation complex as a cornerstone, the Midtown West development will also include new housing and commercial development opportunities in the area. In total, the area spanning from Broadway to the Hudson will include up to 14 buildings that will yield more than 20 million square feet of retail, commercial, and residential development and provide up to 1,400 much-needed units of affordable housing in a transit, job, and amenity-rich community.

         New Waterfront Park at Pier 76: Located west of the Javits Center and 36th Street, the State will transform Pier 76 from an NYPD car tow pound to a 5.6-acre expansion of Hudson River Park. In the short term, it can become a magnificent public space that allows visitor access to the waterfront while the Hudson River Park Trust develops plans for the Pier’s long-term future. Renderings of Pier 76 are available here.

         Javits Center Expansion: The 1.2 million-square-foot, $1.5 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Center will be completed in 2021, increasing capacity of the nation’s busiest convention center by 50 percent. The expansion will include a rooftop pavilion and outdoor terrace for 1,500 people; a one-acre rooftop farm; a 54,000-square foot special event space with Hudson River views; 90,000 square feet of new exhibition space that will create 500,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space; and a truck marshaling facility to reduce congestion and pollution.

Modernizing New York Airports:

         Continue to build the new LaGuardia Airport: New York will continue the historic $8 billion transformation of LaGuardia Airport. Upon receipt of a positive record of decision from the federal government, New York State will continue work on the $2 billion AirTrain LaGuardia. In addition, the vast majority of the roadway network will be completed this year and marks significant progress on Delta’s new state-of-the-art terminal and concourses on the east side of the airport. When complete, the new LaGuardia will be the first new major airport built in the United States since 1995. The new LaGuardia will serve more than 30 million passengers per year and will have created 14,000 jobs.

         Continue the transformation of JFK Airport: New York State will continue the $13 billion plan to transform John F. Kennedy International Airport into a modern airport built for the 21st century. When complete, the brand new JFK will safely and efficiently serve more than 75 million passengers per year. The project is also slated to create nearly 30,000 jobs. As part of the JFK Airport transformation, the State is modernizing the Kew Gardens Interchange, which serves more than 200,000 vehicles daily. The final phase of this $700 million project will be complete in 2022.

Albany International Airport. New York State has invested $200 million in revitalizing upstate airports. Cuomo is committing $100 million more (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

         Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization: Building on a $200 million investment through the Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, the Governor will commit an additional $100 million in round two funding for continued renewal and modernization. Funding will include enhanced securityscreening, expanded and rehabilitated terminals, stateofthe-art boarding concourses and concession areas, and innovations in contactless technology.

Improving Mass Transit for Millions of New Yorkers:

         Phase II of Second Ave Subway Extension: The MTA remains in desperate need of further federal funding so it can continue its essential role in supporting the region. That said, it is committed to implementing its historic $51.5 billion 2020-2024 Capital Plan. Upon resolving funding uncertainty caused by COVID-19, MTA will get this program back on track with repair projects, signal modernization, and ADA accessibility projects progressing in 2021. Other projects supported include upgraded stations, thousands of new buses and train cars, and critical maintenance and upgrades for bridges, tunnels, and other infrastructure. In addition, with necessary multi-year federal support, MTA will further extend the Second Avenue Subway, from 96th Street to 125th Street.

         LIRR Third Track Project:The Long Island Rail Road’s historic and transformative third track project will complete a new third track along a critical 9.8-mile section of LIRR’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville to increase track capacity, improve reliability, and significantly enhance service for LIRR customers. The $2.6 billion project also includes the construction of additional parking garages, the renovation of stations, new and renovated bridges, and modern track and signal infrastructure. By the end of 2021, MTA will have completed all eight of the grade crossing eliminations on the mainline, six of which will have new vehicular underpasses.

Updates to Highways, Roads and Bridges:

 

During 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Cuomo cut the ribbon on the new Mario Cuomo Bridge which replaced the Tappan Zee across the Hudson, with a stunning recreational path. The project was one of the largest infrastructure projects in the United States© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Access to Hunts Point: New York State will invest $1.7 billion to create direct access to and from the Bruckner Expressway and Sheridan Boulevard for trucks serving the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center. The highway redesign will take traffic off local roadways, significantly reducing both noise and air pollution in a borough with high asthma rates. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2025. 

I-390/490 Interchange Improvements: In 2021, the State will complete a $150 million project to ease access and improve traffic flow along Route 31, Route 390, and the Interstate 390/490 Interchange in Monroe County. This interchange will serve as a vital connection for nearly 200,000 motorists daily.

Re-deck the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge: The State will continue work on the Newburgh Beacon Bridge to complete a full deck replacement on the north span of the bridge over the Hudson River. Re-decking will improve roadway safety, drivability, and durability. This $95 million investment will be complete in 2022, nine months ahead of schedule.

Replace the Syracuse I-81 Viaduct: The State will conduct an environmental and public review of its proposal to replace the Interstate 81 viaduct in Syracuse. This $1.9 billion project will connect communities and create opportunities for new residential and commercial development. The project is expected to break ground in 2022. 

Governor Cuomo also announced progress on a number of major infrastructure updates across New York State that invest in communities to open new public spaces, attract tourism, and create jobs.

Buffalo Skyway: Governor Cuomo initiated a large-scale planning and design effort to maximize waterfront access and free up to 45 acres for development through the removal of the Skyway Bridge in downtown Buffalo and transform it into a spectacular park. New York State will complete the environmental review process this year and, with federal approval, will be ready to break ground this year.

Albany Skyway Conversion: Through an $11.4 million partnership with the City of Albany, the State is converting an underutilized interstate exit ramp into an iconic linear park with a landscaped promenade, event spaces, and an accessible shared-use path connecting downtown Albany with the Arbor Hill and Sheridan Hollow neighborhoods, Albany’s warehouse district, and the Corning Riverfront Park. Construction will be completed this year.

Binghamton University Health Sciences Campus: In 2021, Binghamton University will complete construction of its transformational, $287 million, 13-acre Health Sciences Campus in downtown Johnson City. This includes the 108,000 square-foot Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which will welcome hundreds of students this Spring; a new 105,000 square-foot school of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences with more than 350 faculty, staff, and students; a new eldercare teaching clinic in partnership with Lourdes Hospital; and a pharmacological R&D facility. Overall this project will have created more than 225 new jobs and involved more than 200 construction jobs.

New Mohawk Valley Health System Hospital in Utica: This year, work will continue on Mohawk Valley Health System’s $548 million new state-of-the-art hospital in downtown Utica. The 672,000-square-foot, nine-story, 373-bed facility is projected to be completed by 2023.

Complete the Belmont Arena: The Belmont Park Redevelopment is replacing 43 acres of underutilized parking lots with a 19,000-seat arena that will bring the New York Islanders hockey team back home to Long Island. The arena includes a world-class retail village, and a new hotel. New York Arena Partners is leading the 350,000-square-foot development, bringing $1.3 billion in private investment to the 115-year-old horse-racing facility. The project also includes the renovation of two nearby community parks, new community space, and the first new LIRR train station in 40 years. Construction is well underway, with completion of the arena slated for the 2021-2022 NHL season; east-bound LIRR service to open in fall 2021. In total, this project will create more than 12,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout construction and once completed.  

Bay Park Reconstruction: The State has been working with Nassau County on the $439 million Bay Park Conveyance Project to reduce nitrogen pollution by more than 50 percent and to connect the plant to an existing ocean outfall. This $1.2 billion-plus investment will result in dramatic improvements in the water quality while stemming the rapid degradation of the marsh islands that provide a natural barrier for flood protection for southern Nassau County. In 2021, construction will begin on the Bay Park outflow system. Renderings of the Bay Park project are available here.

ROC the Riverway: The Riverway Rochester redevelopment project, supported by a $50 million New York State investment, will achieve several key milestones in 2021 with more than half its projects reaching completion, including the expansion of the Blue Cross Arena Exchange Expansion and the West River floodwall projects, as well as the continued construction of the major overhaul to Charles Carrol Park. 

LEGOLAND: The 150-acre LEGOLAND theme park in Orange County will open this year. The $420 million investment will draw tourists back to New York after the pandemic and create approximately 1,000 jobs.

New Whiteface Mid-Station Lodge: The Whiteface Mountain rebuilt a $14 million mid-station lodge following a devastating fire in 2019. The new lodge is open for the 2020-21 ski season with limited services and will be completed this year.
 

Biden in First Foreign Policy Speech: ‘America is Back’

President Joe Biden visited the US State Department to give his first major foreign policy speech in which he declared emphatically, “America is back.” He noted the importance – the obligation – of America to assert its global leadership, and said he would repair the alliances broken and weakened by the Trump Administration, along with reinforcing his respect and commitment to the people who serve in the diplomatic corps, often in dangerous and difficult circumstances.

He emphasized that diplomacy is not just because of the moral imperative, but also helps America and Americans prosper and live in peace.

And he said he would reassert American values in diplomacy: reinstating a refugee admissions program that would accommodate up to 125,000 in the first full fiscal year of his administration; would seek a ceasefire in Yemen and would send humanitarian aid; and would stand up for human rights.

He said he would assert American interests in Russia and China, and suggested there would be sanctions against the military leadership that fomented a coup in Myanmar. “In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election,” he declared, in a statement that had eerie resonance in the United States.

Investing in our diplomacy isn’t something we do just because it’s the right thing to do for the world.  We do it in order to live in peace, security, and prosperity.  We do it because it’s in our own naked self-interest.  When we strengthen our alliances, we amplify our power as well as our ability to disrupt threats before they can reach our shores.  

“When we invest in economic development of countries, we create new markets for our products and reduce the likelihood of instability, violence, and mass migrations.  

“When we strengthen health systems in far regions of the world, we reduce the risk of future pandemics that can threaten our people and our economy.  
“When we defend equal rights of people the world over — of women and girls, LGBTQ individuals, indigenous communities, and people with disabilities, the people of every ethnic background and religion — we also ensure that those rights are protected for our own children here in America. 

“America cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage.  I come today to the State Department, an agency as old and as storied as the nation itself, because diplomacy has always been essential to how America writes its own destiny.”

Here is a highlighted transcript of President Biden’s remarks:

President Joe Biden visited the US State Department to give his first major foreign policy speech in which he declared emphatically, “America is back.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It’s great to be here and stand alongside our most recent and senior diplomat, Secretary Tony Blinken.  Mr. Secretary, thank you for welcoming us today.  We’ve worked together for over 20 years.  Your diplomatic skills are respected equally by your friends and our competitors around the world.

And they know when you speak, you speak for me.
 And so — so is the message I want the world to hear today: America is back.  America is back.  Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.

As I said in my inaugural address, we will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s.  American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy.  

We must meet the new moment accelerating global challenges — from the pandemic to the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation — challenging the will only to be solved by nations working together and in common.  We can’t do it alone.  

That must be this — we must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.

That’s the grounding wire of our global policy — our global power. That’s our inexhaustible source of strength.  That’s America’s abiding advantage.

Though many of these values have come under intense pressure in recent years, even pushed to the brink in the last few weeks, the American people are going to emerge from this moment stronger, more determined, and better equipped to unite the world in fighting to defend democracy, because we have fought for it ourselves.

Over the past few days, we’ve been in close cooperation with our allies and partners to bring together the international community to address the military coup in Burma.

I’ve also been in touch with Leader McConnell to discuss our shared concerns about the situation in Burma, and we are united in our resolve.  

There can be no doubt: In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election.  

The Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized, release the advocates and activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions on telecommunications, and refrain from violence.

As I said earlier this week, we will work with our partners to support restoration of democracy and the rule of law, and impose consequences on those responsible.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve spoken with the leaders of many of our closest friends — Canada, Mexico, the UK, Germany, France, NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia — to being [begin] reforming the habits of cooperation and rebuilding the muscle of democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years of neglect and, I would argue, abuse.

America’s alliances are our greatest asset, and leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and key partners once again.

By leading with diplomacy, we must also mean engaging our adversaries and our competitors diplomatically, where it’s in our interest, and advance the security of the American people.

That’s why, yesterday, the United States and Russia agreed to extend the New START Treaty for five years to preserve the only remaining treaty between our countries safeguarding nuclear stability.

At the same time, I made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions — interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens — are over.  We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people.  And we will be more effective in dealing with Russia when we work in coalition and coordination with other like-minded partners.

The politically motivated jailing of Alexei Navalny and the Russian efforts to suppress freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are a matter of deep concern to us and the international community.  

Mr. Navalny, like all Russian citizens, is entitled to his rights under the Russian constitution.  He’s been targeted — targeted for exposing corruption.  He should be released immediately and without condition.

And we’ll also take on directly the challenges posed by our prosperity, security, and democratic values by our most serious competitor, China.  
We’ll confront China’s economic abuses; counter its aggressive, coercive action; to push back on China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property, and global governance.

But we are ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so.  We will compete from a position of strength by building back better at home, working with our allies and partners, renewing our role in international institutions, and reclaiming our credibility and moral authority, much of which has been lost.

That’s why we’ve moved quickly to begin restoring American engagement internationally and earn back our leadership position, to catalyze global action on shared challenges.

On day one, I signed the paperwork to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.  We’re taking steps led by the example of integrating climate objectives across all of our diplomacy and raise the ambition of our climate targets.  That way, we can challenge other nations, other major emitters, to up the ante on their own commitments.  I’ll be hosting climate leaders — a climate leaders’ summit to address the climate crisis on Earth Day of this year.  

America must lead in the face of this existential threat.  And just as with the pandemic, it requires global cooperation.  

We’ve also reengaged with the World Health Organization.  That way, we can build better global preparedness to counter COVID-19, as well as detect and prevent future pandemics, because there will be more.  

We’ve elevated the status of cyber issues within our government, including appointing the first national — Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology.  We’re launching an urgent initiative to improve our capability, readiness, and resilience in cyberspace.  

Today, I’m announcing additional steps to course-correct our foreign policy and better unite our democratic values with our diplomatic leadership.  

To begin, Defense Secretary Austin will be leading a Global Posture Review of our forces so that our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities.  It will be coordinated across all elements of our national security, with Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken working in close cooperation.  

And while this review is taking place, we’ll be stopping any planned troop withdrawals from Germany.   We’re also stepping up our diplomacy to end the war in Yemen — a war which has created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.  I’ve asked my Middle East team to ensure our support for the United Nations-led initiative to impose a ceasefire, open humanitarian channels, and restore long-dormant peace talks

This morning, Secretary Blinken appointed Tim Lenderking, a career foreign policy officer, as our special envoy to the Yemen conflict.  And I appreciate his doing this.  Tim is a life — has lifelong experience in the region, and he’ll work with the U.N. envoy and all parties of the conflict to push for a diplomatic resolution.  

And Tim’s diplomacy will be bolstered by USAID, working to ensure that humanitarian aid is reaching the Yemeni people who are sufferinguunendurable devastation.  This war has to end.  

And to underscore our commitment, we are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.  

At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.

We also face a crisis of more than 80 million displaced people suffering all around the world.  The United States’ moral leadership on refugee issues was a point of bipartisan consensus for so many decades when I first got here.  We shined the light of lamp on — of liberty on oppressed people.  We offered safe havens for those fleeing violence or persecution.  And our example pushed other nations to open wide their doors as well.  

So today, I’m approving an executive order to begin the hard work of restoring our refugee admissions program to help meet the unprecedented global need.  It’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged, but that’s precisely what we’re going to do. 

This executive order will position us to be able to raise the refugee admissions back up to 125,000 persons for the first full fiscal year of the Biden-Harris administration.  And I’m directing the State Department to consult with Congress about making a down payment on that commitment as soon as possible.  

And to further repair our moral leadership, I’m also issuing a presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues and do it internationally.  You know, we’ll ensure diplomacy and foreign assistance are working to promote the rights of those individuals, included by combatting criminalization and protecting LGBTQ refugees and asylum-seekers. 

And finally, to successfully reassert our diplomacy and keep Americans safe, prosperous, and free, we must restore the health and morale of our foreign policy institutions.

I want the people who work in this building and our embassies and consulates around the world to know: I value your expertise and I respect you, and I will have your back.  This administration is going to empower you to do your jobs, not target or politicize you.  We want a rigorous debate that brings all perspectives and makes room for dissent.  That’s how we’ll get the best possible policy outcomes. 

So, with your help, the United States will again lead not just by the example of our power but the power of our example.

That’s why my administration has already taken the important step to live our domestic values at home — our democratic values at home.

Within hours of taking office, I signed an executive order overturning the hateful, discriminatory Muslim ban; reversed the ban on transgender individuals serving in our military.  

And as part of our commitment to truth, transparency, and accountability, we stated on day one — we started on day one with daily briefings of the press from the White House.  We’ve reinstituted regular briefings here at State and at the Pentagon.  We believe a free press isn’t an adversary; rather, it’s essential to the health of a democracy.

We’ve restored our commitment to science and to create policies grounded in facts and evidence.  I suspect Ben Franklin would approve. 

We’ve taken steps to acknowledge and address systemic racism and the scourge of white supremacy in our own country.  Racial equity will not just be an issue for one department in our administration, it has to be the business of the whole of government in all our federal policies and institutions. 

All this matters to foreign policy, because when we host the Summit of Democracy early in my administration to rally the nations of the world to defend democracy globally, to push back the authoritarianism’s advance, we’ll be a much more credible partner because of these efforts to shore up our own foundations. 

There’s no longer a bright line between foreign and domestic policy. Every action we take in our conduct abroad, we must take with American working families in mind.  Advancing a foreign policy for the middle class demands urgent focus on our domestic economic renewal.

And that’s why I immediately put forth the American Rescue Plan to pull us out of this economic crisis.  That’s why I signed an executive order strengthening our Buy American policies last week. And it’s also why I’ll work with Congress to make far-reaching investments in research and development of transformable technologies.

These investments are going to create jobs, maintain America’s competitive edge globally, and ensure all Americans share in the dividends. 

If we invest in ourselves and our people, if we fight to ensure that American businesses are positioned to compete and win on the global stage, if the rules of international trade aren’t stacked against us, if our workers and intellectual property are protected, then there’s no country on Earth — not China or any other country on Earth — that can match us.

Investing in our diplomacy isn’t something we do just because it’s the right thing to do for the world.  We do it in order to live in peace, security, and prosperity.  We do it because it’s in our own naked self-interest.  When we strengthen our alliances, we amplify our power as well as our ability to disrupt threats before they can reach our shores.  

When we invest in economic development of countries, we create new markets for our products and reduce the likelihood of instability, violence, and mass migrations.

When we strengthen health systems in far regions of the world, we reduce the risk of future pandemics that can threaten our people and our economy.

When we defend equal rights of people the world over — of women and girls, LGBTQ individuals, indigenous communities, and people with disabilities, the people of every ethnic background and religion — we also ensure that those rights are protected for our own children here in America. 

America cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage.  I come today to the State Department, an agency as old and as storied as the nation itself, because diplomacy has always been essential to how American — America writes its own destiny.

For the diplomacy of Ben Franklin helped assure the success of our revolution.  The vision of the Marshall Plan helped prevent the world from foundering on the wreckage of war.  And the passions of Eleanor Roosevelt declared the audacious idea of universal rights that belong to all.

The leadership of diplomats of every stripe, doing the daily work of engagement, created the very idea of a free and interconnected world. We are a country that does big things.  American diplomacy makes it happen.  And our administration is ready to take up the mantle and lead once again.

Thank you all.  And may God bless you and protect our troops, our diplomats, and our development experts, and all Americans serving in harm’s way.  

Biden Announces Increased COVID-19 Vaccine Supply, Launch of Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, Expansion of FEMA Reimbursement to States

At the Yes We Can Center in Westbury, which became Nassau County’s second COVID-19 vaccination distribution site, Alex Miller of Port Washington, a special language pathologist, is vaccinated by Dr. Kevin Glassman, a volunteer with Nassau County’s Medical Reserve Corps. President Biden is dramatically increasing the supply of vaccine and launching the first phase of the federal distribution program through local pharmacies. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As the U.S. surpasses 26 million COVID-19 infections, President Biden took additional steps February 2 to implement his comprehensive National Strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. These steps include increasing the vaccine supply to states, Tribes, and territories and increasing funding to jurisdictions to help turn vaccines into vaccinations. And, the President announced that starting next week, the first phase of the federal pharmacy program will launch and select pharmacies nationwide will start offering vaccinations for their communities.
 
These new steps will help meet the President’s goal of administering 100 million shots in 100 days and expand access to vaccines to more Americans in the coming weeks.
 
The President is taking the following actions today:
 
Expanding Vaccine Supply: Building on last week’s announcement, the Biden-Harris Administration will increase overall, weekly vaccine supply to states, Tribes, and territories to 10.5 million doses nationwide beginning this week. This is a 22% increase since taking office on January 20. The Administration is committing to maintaining this as the minimum supply level for the next three weeks, and we will continue to work with manufacturers in their efforts to ramp up supply.

Launching First Phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination: As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines, starting on February 11, those eligible for the vaccine will have the opportunity to be vaccinated at select pharmacies across the country through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. This program is a public-private partnership with 21 national pharmacy partners and networks of independent pharmacies representing over 40,000 pharmacy locations nationwide (listed below).  It is a key component of the Administration’s National Strategy to expand equitable access to vaccines for the American public.

As the first phase of this program launches, select retail pharmacies nationwide will receive limited vaccine supply to vaccinate priority groups at no cost. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked with states to select initial pharmacy partners based on a number of factors including their ability to reach some of the populations most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19.  Americans should check their pharmacy’s website to find out if vaccine is available as supply will be limited in the initial phase. More information is available at cdc.gov/covid19.

Increasing Reimbursements to States: Central to the Biden-Harris Administration’s COVID-19 National Strategy is ensuring states, Tribes, territories, and jurisdictions have the resources they need to defeat the virus. That’s why, in his second day in office, President Biden directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fully reimburse states for the cost of National Guard Personnel and emergency costs. Today, President Biden is announcing that the administration will go even further, retroactively reimbursing states fully for FEMA-eligible services – including masks, gloves, emergency feeding actions, sheltering at risk populations, and mobilization of the National Guard – back dated to the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020.  This reimbursement is estimated to total $3-5 billion and is only a small share of the resources that states need to fight this pandemic — including for testing, genomic sequencing, and mass vaccination centers. To fully support states, Tribes, and territories’ needs to contain the pandemic and vaccinate their populations, President Biden is requesting $350 billion from Congress in American Rescue Plan.

Participating Federal Pharmacy Partners (not all will be active in every state in initial phase)

Chain Pharmacies

  • Walgreens (including Duane Reade)
  • CVS Pharmacy, Inc. (including Long’s)
  • Walmart, Inc. (including Sam’s Club)
  • Rite Aid Corp.
  • The Kroger Co. (including Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Ralphs, King Soopers, Smiths, City Market, Dillons, Mariano’s, Pick-n-Save, Copps, Metro Market)
  • Publix Super Markets, Inc. 
  • Costco Wholesale Corp.
  • Albertsons Companies, Inc. (including Osco, Jewel-Osco, Albertsons, Albertsons Market, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Star Market, Shaw’s, Haggen, Acme, Randalls, Carrs, Market Street, United, Vons, Pavilions, Amigos, Lucky’s, Pak n Save, Sav-On)
  • Hy-Vee, Inc.
  • Meijer Inc.
  • H-E-B, LP
  • Retail Business Services, LLC (including Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Hannaford Bros Co, Stop & Shop)
  • Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. (including Winn-Dixie, Harveys, Fresco Y Mas)

Network Administrators

  • Topco Associates, LLC (including Acme Fresh Markets, Associated Food Stores, Big-Y Pharmacy and Wellness Center, Brookshire’s Pharmacy, Super One Pharmacy, FRESH by Brookshire’s Pharmacy, Coborn’s Pharmacy, Cash Wise Pharmacy, MarketPlace Pharmacy, Giant Eagle, Hartig Drug Company, King Kullen, Food City Pharmacy, Ingles Pharmacy, Raley’s, Bel Air, Nob Hill Pharmacies, Save Mart Pharmacies, Lucky Pharmacies, SpartanNash, Price Chopper, Market 32, Tops Friendly Markets, ShopRite, Wegmans, Weis Markets, Inc.)
  • CPESN USA, LLC
  • GeriMed (long-term care and retail pharmacies)
  • Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation’s pharmacy services administrative organization (PSAO), Elevate Provider
  • Health Mart Systems, Inc.
  • Innovatix (long-term care pharmacies)
  • LeaderNET and Medicine Shoppe, Cardinal Health’s PSAOs 
  • Managed Health Care Associates (retail and long-term care pharmacies)

Biden Signs Executive Orders to Streamline Legal Immigration System, Reunite Separated Families, Address Root Causes of Migration

Families Belong Together Immigration Protest, NYC, June 30, 2018. In his first days in office, President Biden has signed executive orders to reunite families separated by Trump, protect DACA, end the Muslim Travel Ban, halt Trump’s border wall construction send legislation to Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, and address the root causes that drive people to leave their home countries © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On January 20, the Biden Harris Administration took the first steps in a broad, whole of government effort to finally reform our immigration system, including sending to Congress legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in and contributing to our country. On February 2, the Administration is announcing a series of additional actions it is taking to rebuild and strengthen our immigration system.

These actions build on executive actions the President took his first day in office, including steps to preserve and fortify protections for Dreamers, end the Muslim and Africa ban, halt border wall construction and protect Liberian nationals living and working in our country. On day 1, the President also sent the United States Citizenship Act to Congress, which seeks to modernize our immigration system and smartly manage our borders, while addressing the root causes of migration.

President Biden’s strategy is centered on the basic premise that our country is saferstronger, and more prosperous with a fair, safe and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people—both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations—to more fully contribute to our country. President Biden knows that new Americans fuel our economy, as innovators and job creators, working in every American industry, and contributing to our arts, culture, and government.

In signing the executive orders, President Biden said:

“Today, I’m going to sign a few executive orders to strengthen our immigration system, building on the executive actions I took on day one to protect DREAMers, and the Muslim ban, and to better manage of our borders.  And that’s what these three different executive orders are about. 
 
“And I want to make it clear — there’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders that I have signed — I’m not making new law; I’m eliminating bad policy.  What I’m doing is taking on the issues that — 99 percent of them — that the President — the last President of the United States issued executive orders I felt were very counterproductive to our security, counterproductive to who we are as a country, particularly in the area of immigration.
 
“This is about how America is safer, stronger, more prosperous when we have a fair, orderly, and humane, and legal immigration system. 
 
“And with the first action today, we’re going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families — their mothers and fathers at the border — and with no plan, none whatsoever, to reunify the children who are still in custody and their parents.”

As he signed the first order, the reestablishment of an Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, he said, “this removes the stain on our reputation for what these separations caused.”  The second order, “Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, [and] to Manage Migration Throughout the North and Central America, and to Provide [a] Safe and Orderly Processing Of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border,” he said, “addresses the root causes of a migration to our southern border.” 

The third action, Restoring [the] Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans,”orders a full review of the previous administration’s harmful and counterproductive immigration policies, basically across the board,” he said.

“As my grandfather would say: By the grace of God and the goodwill of neighbors, we’ll reunite these children and reestablish our reputation as being a haven for people in need.” 

Today’s executive actions will:

Create a Task Force to Reunify Families. President Biden believes that families belong together. He has made clear that reversing the Trump Administration’s immigration policies that separated thousands of families at the border is a top priority. A key part of this effort is the creation of a task force to reunite families that remain separated. This task force will work across the U.S. government, with key stakeholders and representatives of impacted families, and with partners across the hemisphere to find parents and children separated by the Trump Administration. The task force will make recommendations to the President and federal agencies regarding steps that they can take to reunify families. Further, the task force will report regularly to the President and recommend steps to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. This Order also revokes the Trump Administration’s Executive Order that sought to justify separating children from their parents.

Develop a Strategy to Address Irregular Migration Across the Southern Border and Create a Humane Asylum System. The Trump Administration’s policies at the border have caused chaos, cruelty and confusion. Those policies have undermined the safety of our communities, penalized asylum seekers fleeing violence, and destabilized security across the Western hemisphere. Today, the Biden Harris Administration will begin to roll back the most damaging policies adopted by the prior administration, while taking effective action to manage migration across the region.

Specifically, the Biden Harris Administration will begin implementing a comprehensive three-part plan for safe, lawful, and orderly migration in the region. First, the Administration will address the underlying causes of migration through a strategy to confront the instability, violence, and economic insecurity that currently drives migrants from their homes. Second, the Administration will collaborate with regional partners, including foreign governments, international organizations, and nonprofits to shore up other countries’ capacity to provide protection and opportunities to asylum seekers and migrants closer to home. Finally, the Administration will ensure that Central American refugees and asylum seekers have access to legal avenues to the United States. The Secretary of Homeland Security is also directed to review the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program. The situation at the border will not transform overnight, due in large part to the damage done over the last four years. But the President is committed to an approach that keeps our country safe, strong, and prosperous and that also aligns with our values. This Executive Order also directs a series of actions to restore the U.S. asylum system, including by rescinding and directing agency review of a host of Trump Administration proclamations, rules, and guidance documents that have effectively closed the U.S. border to asylum seekers.

Restore Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Promote Integration of New Americans. President Biden believes that immigrants are essential to who we are as a nation and critical to our aspirations for the future. The prior administration enacted hundreds of policies that run counter to our history and undermine America’s character as a land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all who come here seeking protection and opportunity. This Executive Order elevates the role of the White House in coordinating the federal government’s strategy to promote immigrant integration and inclusion, including re-establishing a Task Force on New Americans, and ensuring that our legal immigration system operates fairly and efficiently. The order requires agencies to conduct a top-to-bottom review of recent regulations, policies, and guidance that have set up barriers to our legal immigration system. It also rescinds President Trump’s memorandum requiring family sponsors to repay the government if relatives receive public benefits, instructs the agencies to review the public charge rule and related policies, and streamline the naturalization process.

On January 20, soon after sitting in the Oval Office for the first time after his inauguration, President Biden stated he was sending to Congress a bill to “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system.”

The bill provides hardworking people who enrich our communities every day and who have lived here for years, in some cases for decades, an opportunity to earn citizenship. The legislation modernizes our immigration system, and prioritizes keeping families together, growing our economy, responsibly managing the border with smart investments, addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, and ensuring that the United States remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution. The bill will stimulate our economy while ensuring that every worker is protected. The bill creates an earned path to citizenship for our immigrant neighbors, colleagues, parishioners, community leaders, friends, and loved ones—including Dreamers and the essential workers who have risked their lives to serve and protect American communities. 

The U.S. Citizenship Act will: 

PROVIDE PATHWAYS TO CITIZENSHIP & STRENGTHEN LABOR PROTECTIONS

  • Create an earned roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals. The bill allows undocumented individuals to apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes. Dreamers, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers who meet specific requirements are eligible for green cards immediately under the legislation. After three years, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can apply to become citizens. Applicants must be physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20, 2017 who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes. Lastly, the bill further recognizes America as a nation of immigrants by changing the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in our immigration laws.
  • Keep families together. The bill reforms the family-based immigration system by clearing backlogs, recapturing unused visas, eliminating lengthy wait times, and increasing per-country visa caps.  It also eliminates the so-called “3 and 10-year bars,” and other provisions that keep families apart. The bill further supports familes by more explicitly including permanent partnerships and eliminating discrimination facing LGBTQ+ families. It also provides protections for orphans, widows, children, and Filipino veterans who fought alongside the United States in World War II. Lastly, the bill allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the United States on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards to become available. 
  • Embrace diversity.  The bill includes the NO BAN Act that prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue future bans. The bill also increases Diversity Visas to 80,000 from 55,000.
  • Promote immigrant and refugee integration and citizenship. The bill provides new funding to state and local governments, private organizations, educational institutions, community-based organizations, and not-for-profit organizations to expand programs to promote integration and inclusion, increase English-language instruction, and provide assistance to individuals seeking to become citizens. 
  • Grow our economy. This bill clears employment-based visa backlogs, recaptures unused visas, reduces lengthy wait times, and eliminates per-country visa caps. The bill makes it easier for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States; improves access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors; and eliminates other unnecessary hurdles for employment-based green cards. The bill provides dependents of H-1B visa holders work authorization, and children are prevented from “aging out” of the system. The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development, gives DHS the authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions, and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.
  • Protect workers from exploitation and improve the employment verification process. The bill requires that DHS and the Department of Labor establish a commission involving labor, employer, and civil rights organizations to make recommendations for improving the employment verification process. Workers who suffer serious labor violations and cooperate with worker protection agencies will be granted greater access to U visa relief. The bill protects workers who are victims of workplace retaliation from deportation in order to allow labor agencies to interview these workers. It also protects migrant and seasonal workers, and increases penalties for employers who violate labor laws. 

PRIORITIZE SMART BORDER CONTROLS

  • Supplement existing border resources with technology and infrastructure. The legislation builds on record budget allocations for immigration enforcement by authorizing additional funding for the Secretary of DHS to develop and implement a plan to deploy technology to expedite screening and enhance the ability to identify narcotics and other contraband at every land, air, and sea port of entry.  This includes high-throughput scanning technologies to ensure that all commercial and passenger vehicles and freight rail traffic entering the United States at land ports of entry and rail-border crossings along the border undergo pre-primary scanning. It also authorizes and provides funding for plans to improve infrastructure at ports of entry to enhance the ability to process asylum seekers and detect, interdict, disrupt and prevent narcotics from entering the United States. It authorizes the DHS Secretary to develop and implement a strategy to manage and secure the southern border between ports of entry that focuses on flexible solutions and technologies that expand the ability to detect illicit activity, evaluate the effectiveness of border security operations, and be easily relocated and broken out by Border Patrol Sector. To protect privacy, the DHS Inspector General is authorized to conduct oversight to ensure that employed technology effectively serves legitimate agency purposes.
  • Manage the border and protect border communities.  The bill provides funding for training and continuing education to promote agent and officer safety and professionalism. It also creates a Border Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee, provides more special agents at the DHS Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate criminal and administrative misconduct, and requires the issuance of department-wide policies governing the use of force. The bill directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the impact of DHS’s authority to waive environmental and state and federal laws to expedite the construction of barriers and roads near U.S. borders and provides for additional rescue beacons to prevent needless deaths along the border. The bill authorizes and provides funding for DHS, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and nongovernmental experts, to develop guidelines and protocols for standards of care for individuals, families, and children in CBP custody.
  • Crack down on criminal organizations. The bill enhances the ability to prosecute individuals involved in smuggling and trafficking networks who are responsible for the exploitation of migrants. It also expands investigations, intelligence collection and analysis pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act to increase sanctions against foreign narcotics traffickers, their organizations and networks. The bill also requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and DHS, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to improve and expand transnational anti-gang task forces in Central America.

ADDRESS ROOT CAUSES OF MIGRATION

  • Start from the source. The bill codifies and funds the President’s $4 billion four-year inter-agency plan to address the underlying causes of migration in the region, including by increasing assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, conditioned on their ability to reduce the endemic corruption, violence, and poverty that causes people to flee their home countries. It also creates safe and legal channels for people to seek protection, including by establishing Designated Processing Centers throughout Central America to register and process displaced persons for refugee resettlement and other lawful migration avenues—either to the United States or other partner countries. The bill also re-institutes the Central American Minors program to reunite children with U.S. relatives and creates a Central American Family Reunification Parole Program to more quickly unite families with approved family sponsorship petitions. 
  • Improve the immigration courts and protect vulnerable individuals. The bill expands family case management programs, reduces immigration court backlogs, expands training for immigration judges, and improves technology for immigration courts. The bill also restores fairness and balance to our immigration system by providing judges and adjudicators with discretion to review cases and grant relief to deserving individuals. Funding is authorized for legal orientation programs and counsel for children, vulnerable individuals, and others when necessary to ensure the fair and efficient resolution of their claims. The bill also provides funding for school districts educating unaccompanied children, while clarifying sponsor responsibilities for such children. 
  • Support asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations. The bill eliminates the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims and provides funding to reduce asylum application backlogs. It also increases protections for U visa, T visa, and VAWA applicants, including by raising the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000. The bill also expands protections for foreign nationals assisting U.S. troops. 

Biden Signs Executive Orders to Tackle Climate Change, Create Jobs: ‘Climate change will be at the center of our national security and foreign policy’

Solar array on a farm in Finger Lakes, New York (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

‘It’s about jobs — good-paying union jobs.  It’s about workers building our economy back better than before.  It’s a whole-of-government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy.  It’s advancing conservation; revitalizing communities and cities and on the farmlands; and securing environmental justice.’

President Joe Biden equated Climate Day with Jobs Day at the White House because he knows that confronting this existential crisis is also about jobs that will build a sustainable future. Think about it: workers populated Pennsylvania and West Virginia when technology was invented to turn coal into fuel; workers flooded Texas and Oklahoma when oil was discovered. Now we need new sources of energy to replace these archaic, destructive technologies and will redeploy those workers, re-purpose those sites and develop new industries. Long Island will lead a new off-shore wind industry, other places – including farmers and ranchers – will turn their land into a new source of wealth with solar panels and windmills.

Today, President Biden signed executive actions to treat the need to tackle climate change as the national security threat it is, while at the same time countering the Republican claim of a zero-sum game that climate action will cost jobs rather than create millions of jobs. And after Republican presidents and administrations did all they could to erase “climate change” from mission statements, agencies and policies, Biden signed an executive order restoring scientific integrity.

Here are President Biden’s remarks, highlighted: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today is “Climate Day” at the White House which means that today is “Jobs Day” at the White House.  We’re talking about American innovation, American products, American labor.  And we’re talking about the health of our families and cleaner water, cleaner air, and cleaner communities.  We’re talking about national security and America leading the world in a clean energy future.

It’s a future of enormous hope and opportunity.  It’s about coming to the moment to deal with this maximum threat that we — that’s now facing us — climate change — with a greater sense of urgency.  In my view, we’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis and we can’t wait any longer.  We see it with our own eyes, we feel it, we know it in our bones, and it’s time to act. 

And I might note, parenthetically: If you notice, the attitude of the American people toward greater impetus on focusing on climate change and doing something about it has increased across the board — Democrat, Republican, independent. 

That’s why I’m signing today an executive order to supercharge our administration ambitious plan to confront the existential threat of climate change.  And it is an existential threat. 

Last year, wildfires burned more than 5,000 acres in the West — as no one knows better than the Vice President, a former Senator from California — an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.  More intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled states across the Gulf Coast and along the East Coast — I can testify to that, from Delaware.  Historic floods, severe droughts have ravaged the Midwest.  More Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, coastlines, and in farmlands, in red states and blue states.  And the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two thirds of the military’s operational critical installations.  Two thirds.  And so this could — we could — this could well be on the conservative side. 

Record heat caussd by climate change contributed to record wildfires in California (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And many climate and health calamities are colliding all at once.  It’s not just the pandemic that keeps people inside; it’s poor air quality.  Multiple studies have shown that air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from COVID-19.  And just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we desperately need a unified national response to the climate crisis because there is a climate crisis. 

We must lead global response because neither challenge can be met, as Secretary Kerry has pointed out many times, by the United States alone.  We know what to do, we’ve just got to do it. 

When we think of climate change, we think of it — this is a case where conscious and convenience cross paths, where dealing with this existential threat to the planet and increasing our economic growth and prosperity are one in the same.  When I think of climate change, I think of — and the answers to it — I think of jobs. 

A key plank of our Build Back Better Recovery Plan is building a modern, resilient climate infrastructure and clean energy future that will create millions of good-paying union jobs — not 7, 8, 10, 12 dollars an hour, but prevailing wage and benefits. 

You know, we can put millions of Americans to work modernizing our water systems, transportation, our energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme climate.  We’ve already reached a point where we’re going to have to live with what it is now.  That’s going to require a lot of work all by itself, without it getting any worse. 

When we think of renewable energy, we see American manufacturing, American workers racing to lead the global market.  We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.

And I want to parenthetically thank the Secretary of Agriculture for helping to put together that program during the campaign. 

We see small business and master electricians designing, installing, and innovating energy-conserving technologies and building homes and buildings.  And we’re going to reduce electric consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs in the process.

And when the previous administration reversed the Obama-Biden vehicle standard and picked Big Oil companies over American workers, the Biden-Harris administration will not only bring those standards back, we’ll set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet.

We see these workers building new buildings, installing 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations across the country as we modernize our highway systems to adapt to the changes that have already taken place.  We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives, and the residents of our cities and towns breathing cleaner air, and fewer kids living with asthma and dying from it.

And not only that, the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles, as you all know.  With today’s executive order, combined with the Buy American executive order I signed on Monday, we’re going to harness the purchasing power of the federal government to buy clean, zero-emission vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.

With everything I just mentioned, this will mean one million new jobs in the American automobile industry.  One million.  And we’ll do another thing: We’ll take steps towards my goal of achieving 100 percent carbon-pollution-free electric sector by 2035Transforming the American electric sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be a tremendous spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century, not to mention the benefits to our health and to our environment. 

Already, 84 percent of all new electric capacity planned to come onto the electric grid this is year is clean energy.  Clean energy.  Why?  Because it’s affordable; because it’s clean; because, in many cases, it’s cheaper.  And it’s the way we’re keeping up — they’re keeping up.  We’re going to need scientists, the national labs, land-grant universities, historical black colleges and universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit clean electric — clean electricity across distances, and battery technology, and a whole range of other things.

We need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them.  We need iron workers and welders to install them.  Technologies they invent, design, and build will ultimately become cheaper than any other kind of energy, helping us dramatically expand our economy and create more jobs with a cleaner, cleaner environment.  And we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of those technologies, creating even more jobs. 

Homes have to be rebuilt after hurricanes and superstorms like Sandy which decimated the coastal community of Breezy Point, Long Island (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

You know, we are also — we’re going to build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that are going to benefit communities three times over: one, by alleviating the affordable housing crisis; two, by increasing energy efficiency; and, three, by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership.

We’re also going to create more than a quarter million jobs to do things like plug the millions of abandoned oil and gas wells that pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.  They’re abandoned wells that are open now, and we’re going to put people to work.  They’re not going to lose jobs in these areas; they’re going to create jobs.  They’re going to get prevailing wage to cap those over a million wells.  These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams.  These are concrete, actionable solutions, and we know how to do this.

The Obama-Biden administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.  We need solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy, weatherizing more — we made them cost-competitive, weatherizing more than a million homes.

The Recovery Act of our administration — the Democratic administration –made record clean energy investments: $90 billion.  The President asked me to make sure how that money was spent, on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing.

Now, the Biden-Harris administration is going to do it again and go beyond.  The executive order I’ll be signing establishes a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.  And it’ll be led by one of America’s most distinguished climate leaders, former EPA Director Gina McCarthy.  As the head of the new office and my National Climate Advisor, Gina will chair a National Climate Task Force, made up of many members of our Cabinet, to deliver a whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis.

This is not time for small measures; we need to be bold.  So, let me be clear: That includes helping revitalize the economies of coal, oil, and gas, and power plant communities.  We have to start by creating new, good-paying jobs, capping those abandoned wells, reclaiming mines, turning old brownfield sites into new hubs of economic growth, creating new, good-paying jobs in those communities where those workers live because they helped build this country.

Shuttered steel mill, Bethlehem, PA, built to be near coal (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’re never going to forget the men and women who dug the coal and built the nation.  We’re going to do right by them and make sure they have opportunities to keep building the nation and their own communities and getting paid well for it.

While the whole-of-government approach is necessary, though, it’s not sufficient.  We’re going to work with mayors and governors and tribal leaders and business leaders who are stepping up, and the young people organizing and leading the way.  My message to those young people is: You have the full capacity and power of the federal government.  Your government is going to work with you. 

Now, today’s executive order also directs the Secretary of the Interior to stop issuing new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters, wherever possible.  We’re going to review and reset the oil and gas leasing program…We’re going to start to properly manage lands and waterways in ways that allow us to protect, preserve them — the full value that they provide for us for future generations. 

Let me be clear, and I know this always comes up: We’re not going to ban fracking.  We’ll protect jobs and grow jobs, including through stronger standards, like controls from methane leaks and union workers in — willing to install the changes. 

Unlike previous administrations, I don’t think the federal government should give handouts to big oil to the tune of $40 billion in fossil fuel subsidies.  And I’m going to be going to the Congress asking them to eliminate those subsidies.

Wind turbines in California (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’re going to take money and invest it in clean energy jobs in Americamillions of jobs in wind, solar, and carbon capture.  In fact, today’s actions are going to help us increase renewable energy production from offshore wind and meet our obligation to be good stewards of our public lands. 

It establishes a new, modern-day Civilian Climate Corps — that I called for when I was campaigning — to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods.

Look, this executive order I’m signing today also makes it official that climate change will be at the center of our national security and foreign policy. 

As Secretary Kerry — as our Special Presidential Envoy for Climate — with him, the world knows how serious I am about one of America’s — by appointing one of America’s most distinguished statesmen and one of my closest friends, speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.  John was instrumental in negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement that we started to — that we rejoined — this administration rejoined on day one, as I promised.

And today’s executive order will help strengthen that commitment by working with other nations to support the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change and to increase our collective resilience.  That includes a summit of world leaders that I’ll convene to address this climate crisis on Earth Day, this year.

In order to establish a new effort to integrate the security implications of climate change as part of our national security and risk assessment and analysis will also be included.

With this executive order, environmental justice will be at the center of all we do addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color — so-called “fenceline communities” — especially those communities — brown, black, Native American, poor whites.  It’s the hard-hit areas like Cancer Alley in Louisiana, or the Route 9 corridor in the state of Delaware. 

That’s why we’re going to work to make sure that they receive 40 percent of the benefits of key federal investments in clean energy, clean water, and wastewater infrastructureLifting up these communities makes us all stronger as a nation and increases the health of everybody.

Finally, as with our fight against COVID-19, we will listen to the science and protect the integrity of our federal response to the climate crisis.

Earlier this month, I nominated Dr. Eric Lander, a brilliant scientist who is here today, to be the Director of the Office of Science and Technology.  I also nominated another brilliant scientist, Dr. Frances Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber, to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology — so-called “PCAST” — that President Eisenhower started six weeks after the launch of Sputnik.

It’s a team of America’s top scientists charged with asking the most American of questions: “What next?  What’s the next big breakthrough?”  And then helping us make the impossible possible. 

Today, I’m signing a presidential memorandum making it clear that we will protect our world-class scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely and directly to me, the Vice President, and the American people.

To summarize, this executive order — it’s about jobs — good-paying union jobs.  It’s about workers building our economy back better than before.  It’s a whole-of-government approach to put climate change at the center of our domestic, national security, and foreign policy.  It’s advancing conservation; revitalizing communities and cities and in the fa– on the farmlands; and securing environmental justice.

Our plans are ambitious, but we are America.  We’re bold.  We are unwavering in the pursuit of jobs and innovation, science and discovery.  We can do this, we must do this, and we will do this.

See:  FACT SHEET: BIDEN EXECUTIVE ACTIONS TO TACKLE CLIMATE CRISIS, CREATE JOBS, RESTORE SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY ACROSS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

FACT SHEET: Biden Executive Actions to Tackle Climate Crisis, Create Jobs, Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government

Windfarm in California. President Biden sees the transformation from carbon to renewable energy as not just essential for national security, but for economic prosperity and jobs (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Biden-Harris Administration Commits on Climate Change – Creating Jobs, Building Infrastructure, and Delivering Environmental Justice

President Biden took executive action to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad while creating good-paying union jobs and equitable clean energy future, building modern and sustainable infrastructure, restoring scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking across the federal government, and re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

These Executive Orders follow through on President Biden’s promise to take aggressive action to tackle climate change and build on the executive actions that the President took on his first day in office, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and immediate review of harmful rollbacks of standards that protect our air, water, and communities.

President Biden set ambitious goals that will ensure America and the world can meet the urgent demands of the climate crisis, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution that achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050. Today’s actions advance those goals and ensure that we are tapping into the talent, grit, and innovation of American workers, revitalizing the U.S. energy sector, conserving our natural resources and leveraging them to help drive our nation toward a clean energy future, creating well-paying jobs with the opportunity to join a union, and delivering justice for communities who have been subjected to environmental harm.

President Biden also signed an important Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity to send a clear message that the Biden-Harris Administration will protect scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely to provide valuable information and insights to the American people. Additionally, and in line with the scientific-integrity memorandum’s charge to reestablish scientific advisory committees, President Biden signed an Executive Order re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS AT HOME AND ABROAD EXECUTIVE ORDER

Today’s Executive Order takes bold steps to combat the climate crisis both at home and throughout the world. In signing this Executive Order, President Biden has directed his Administration to:

Center the Climate Crisis in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security Considerations

The order clearly establishes climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security. 

The order affirms that, in implementing – and building on – the Paris Agreement’s objectives, the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition. It makes clear that both significant short-term global emission reductions and net zero global emissions by mid-century – or before – are required to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. 

The order reaffirms that the President will host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021; that the United States will reconvene the Major Economies Forum; that, to underscore the administration’s commitment to elevating climate in U.S. foreign policy, the President has created a new position, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, which will have a seat on the National Security Council, and that it will be a U.S. priority to press for enhanced climate ambition and integration of climate considerations across a wide range of international fora.

The order also kicks off the process of developing the United States’ “nationally determined contribution” – our emission reduction target – under the Paris Agreement, as well as a climate finance plan.

Among numerous other steps aimed at prioritizing climate in U.S. foreign policy and national security, the order directs the Director of National Intelligence to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate on the security implications of climate change, the State Department to prepare a transmittal package to the Senate for the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and all agencies to develop strategies for integrating climate considerations into their international work.

Take a Whole-of-Government Approach to the Climate Crisis

The order formally establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy – led by the first-ever National Climate Advisor and Deputy National Climate Advisor – creating a central office in the White House that is charged with coordinating and implementing the President’s domestic climate agenda.

The order establishes the National Climate Task Force, assembling leaders from across 21 federal agencies and departments to enable a whole-of-government approach to combatting the climate crisis.

Leverage the Federal Government’s Footprint and Buying Power to Lead by Example

Consistent with the goals of the President’s Build Back Better jobs and economic recovery plan, of which his clean energy jobs plan is a central pillar, the order directs the federal agencies to procure carbon pollution-free electricity and clean, zero-emission vehicles to create good-paying, union jobs and stimulate clean energy industries.

In addition, the order requires those purchases be Made in America, following President Biden’s Buy American executive order. The order also directs agencies to apply and strictly enforce the prevailing wage and benefit guidelines of the Davis Bacon and other acts and encourage Project Labor Agreements. These actions reaffirm that agencies should work to ensure that any jobs created with funds to address the climate crisis are good jobs with a choice to join a union.

The order directs each federal agency to develop a plan to increase the resilience of its facilities and operations to the impacts of climate change and directs relevant agencies to report on ways to expand and improve climate forecast capabilities – helping facilitate public access to climate related information and assisting governments, communities, and businesses in preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

The order directs the Secretary of the Interior to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters to the extent possible, launch a rigorous review of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and identify steps that can be taken to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030. The order does not restrict energy activities on lands that the United States holds in trust for Tribes. The Secretary of the Interior will continue to consult with Tribes regarding the development and management of renewable and conventional energy resources, in conformance with the U.S. government’s trust responsibilities.

The order directs federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law and identify new opportunities to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure. 

Rebuild Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Economy

The order catalyzes the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Advance Conservation, Agriculture, and Reforestation

The order commits to the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030 and launches a process for stakeholder engagement from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, Tribes, States, Territories, local officials, and others to identify strategies that will result in broad participation. 

The order also calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate.

The order directs the Secretary of Agriculture to collect input from farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs to encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.

Revitalize Energy Communities

The order establishes an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, to be co-chaired by the National Climate Advisor and the Director of the National Economic Council, and directs federal agencies to coordinate investments and other efforts to assist coal, oil and natural gas, and power plant communities. 

The order tasks the new Interagency Working Group to advance projects that reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure and that prevent environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety – such as projects to reduce methane emissions, oil and brine leaks, and other environmental harms from tens of thousands of former mining and well sites.

In addition, the new Interagency Working Group is also directed to explore efforts to turn properties idled in these communities, like brownfields, into new hubs for the growth of our economy.

Secure Environmental Justice and Spur Economic Opportunity

The order formalizes President Biden’s commitment to make environmental justice a part of the mission of every agency by directing federal agencies to develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.

The order establishes a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to prioritize environmental justice and ensure a whole-of-government approach to addressing current and historical environmental injustices, including strengthening environmental justice monitoring and enforcement through new or strengthened offices at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and Department of Health and Human Services.  The new bodies are also tasked with advising on ways to update Executive Order 12898 of February 11, 1994.

The order creates a government-wide Justice40 Initiative with the goal of delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities and tracks performance toward that goal through the establishment of an Environmental Justice Scorecard.

The order initiates the development of a Climate and Environmental Justice Screening Tool, building off EPA’s EJSCREEN, to identify disadvantaged communities, support the Justice40 Initiative, and inform equitable decision making across the federal government

SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

The Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking directs agencies to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data. Scientific and technological information, data, and evidence are central to the development and iterative improvement of sound policies, and to the delivery of effective and equitable programs. Improper political interference in the scientific process, with the work of scientists, and in the communication of scientific facts undermines the welfare of the nation, contributes to systemic inequities and injustices, and violates the public trust.

The memorandum charges the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with the responsibility for ensuring scientific integrity across federal agencies. The OSTP Director is directed to review the effectiveness of agency scientific-integrity policies and assess agency scientific-integrity policies and practices going forward.

In addition, agencies that oversee, direct, or fund research are tasked with designating a senior agency employee as Chief Science Officer to ensure agency research programs are scientifically and technologically well founded and conducted with integrity. Because science, facts, and evidence are vital to addressing policy and programmatic issues across the Federal Government, all agencies – not just those that fund, conduct, or oversee scientific research –must designate a senior career employee as the agency’s Scientific Integrity Official to oversee implementation and iterative improvement of scientific-integrity policies and processes.

EXECUTIVE ORDER ESTABLISHING THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Leaders across the Biden-Harris Administration, including the President himself and his senior advisors in the Executive Office of the President, will seek input, advice, and the best-available science, data, and scientific and technological information from scientists, engineers, and other experts in science, technology, and innovation.

To that end, and in alignment with the scientific-integrity memorandum’s charge to reestablish scientific and technological advisory committees, this order re-establishes the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The PCAST– co-chaired by the President’s Science Advisor – will advise the President on policy that affects science, technology, and innovation. The Council will also advise the President on scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.

Biden Announces New Steps to Increase Vaccine Supply of Vaccine

In just his seventh day in office, President Joe Biden announced new steps to dramatically increase vaccine supply and enable states to book appointments with greater assurance of knowing how many doses they will have three weeks in advance. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

In just his seventh day in office, President Joe Biden announced new steps to dramatically increase vaccine supply and enable states to book appointments with greater assurance of knowing how many doses they will have three weeks in advance.

He announced the purchase of 200 million more doses, which with the doses already purchased from Pfizer and Moderna, would be enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans by summer. But he cautioned that it will take months before the nation achieves herd immunity, the situation will get worse before it gets better, with as many as 100,000 more deaths from COVID-19 by next month.

He emphasized that wearing a mask is still the best way for the foreseeable future to protect lives – as many as 50,000 could be saved by April. Wearing a mask is not just patriotic, he said, but will be mandated in federal property and in interstate transportation, such as airports and depots, and on airplanes, trains, and buses.

Here is more from the Biden administration:

Just over a year since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the United States, the nation has hit another grim milestone in the pandemic, reaching 25 million infections and counting. The pace in which this virus has spread throughout the U.S. is staggering and with new variants emerging, the spread is not slowing any time soon. That’s why it is critical that we vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
 
President Biden has a comprehensive National Action Strategy to put the pandemic behind us and he and the COVID-19 response team are aggressively implementing it.  Today, the President is announcing bold steps that will help meet the goal of administering 100 million shots in 100 days and ramp up vaccine supply as fast as possible. As a result of these actions, the federal government will have enough vaccine supply for the entire U.S. population by the end of the summer.
 
The President is taking the following actions today:
 
An Increase in Weekly Vaccine Supply to States, Tribes and Territories: The Biden-Harris Administration will increase overall, weekly vaccine supply to states, Tribes and territories from 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses. This increase of 1.4 million doses per week will allow millions more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated. The Administration is committing to maintaining this as the minimum supply level for the next three weeks.
 
Increased transparency for States, Tribes, and Territories to Help Their Vaccination Efforts: The Biden-Harris Administration is taking action to provide states, Tribes and territories with a reliable three-week supply look-ahead. The Department of Health and Human Services will provide allocation estimates for the upcoming three weeks as opposed to the one week look-ahead that they previously received. This increased transparency will give state and local leaders greater certainty around supply so that they can plan their vaccination efforts and administer vaccines effectively and efficiently.
 
Purchase 200 Million Additional Doses to Be Delivered This Summer, Double the Nation’s Vaccine Supply: President Biden directed his COVID-19 Response Coordinator to work with HHS to increase our total vaccine supply for the American people.  The Biden-Harris Administration is working to purchase an additional 100 million doses of each of the two Food and Drug Administration-authorized vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna.  This increases the total vaccine order for the U.S. by 50%, from 400 million to 600 million with these additional doses expected to deliver this summer. With these additional doses, the U.S. will have enough vaccine to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of this summer.