All posts by krubin

Biden Administration Launches COVID.gov, a New One-Stop Shop Website for Vaccines, Tests, Treatments, Masks and Latest COVID-19 Information

Website will Feature a New Test-to-Treat Locator Tool to Help People Access the Over 2,000 Locations that Offer COVID-19 Tests and Antiviral Pills at One Convenient Location
 
Administration Continues to Urge Congress to Provide Funding Immediately to Help Keep These Life-Saving Protections Readily Available to All

President Joe Biden sits for his second booster shot, just approved by the CDC for people 50+ or immune-compromised, moments after announcing the new COVID.gov site, where anyone can find Test-to-Treat sites, get lifesaving tools including vaccines, tests, treatments, and updates on COVID-19 in their area © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

Today, the Biden Administration is launching COVID.gov, a new one-stop shop website to help all people in the United States gain even better access to lifesaving tools like vaccines, tests, treatments, and masks, as well as get the latest updates on COVID-19 in their area. The Administration has worked over the past 14 months to set up over 90,000 vaccination sites, make more than 400 million high-quality masks available for free, send free tests to peoples’ homes, and stand up new test-to-treat sites where people can get tested and receive life-saving antivirals all in one place. Now, with a click of a button, people will be able to find where to access all of these tools, as well as receive the latest CDC data on the level of COVID-19 in their community.

As part of COVID.gov, a new Test-to-Treat locator will help people access pharmacies and community health centers across the nation where people can get tested for COVID-19 and receive appropriate treatments if they need them. President Biden announced the Test-to-Treat initiative in his State of the Union address earlier this month. Since that time, the Administration has already launched over 2,000 of these sites, plus more than 240 sites across Veteran’s Health Administration and Department of Defense facilities to serve veterans, military personnel, and their families. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the Administration is ensuring locations are established in our most hard-hit and high-risk communities.

Because of the lifesaving tools we now have, America is in a new moment in the pandemic. The country is moving forward safely and people are getting back to their more normal routines. To ensure we’re sustaining and building on this progress and protecting and preparing for new variants, earlier this month, the President released his National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. The President was clear that in order to execute on this plan and to stay ahead of the virus, the Administration needs additional funding from Congress—including $22.5 billion in immediate emergency funds. To date, Congress has failed to provide those funds and the country is already suffering the consequences. In the last two weeks, the Administration has had to stop reimbursing health care providers for treating the uninsured, cancel monoclonal antibody orders and cut states’ supply, reduce orders of treatments for the immunocompromised, and pull the U.S. out of line for future vaccine and next-generation treatment purchases. These issues disproportionately impact our hardest-hit and highest-risk populations, including communities of color and individuals with disabilities. The Administration continues to urge Congress to act quickly, as the consequences will continue to get worse in the coming weeks.

Protecting the American people from COVID-19 now and into the future relies on affordable and accessible tools like vaccines, treatments, tests and high-quality masks. Through efforts like COVID.gov and Test-to-Treat, the Administration continues to take steps to make these tools even more readily available. Now, we need Congress to do its part and continue to fund the COVID-19 response.

Today’s announcements include:

Launch of COVID.gov, A New One-Stop-Shop Website Where Individuals Can Find Where to Access Vaccines, Tests, Treatments, and High-Quality Masks. Today, the Administration launched COVID.gov, a new website to help people access vaccines, tests, treatments, and high-quality masks. COVID.gov also provides people an easy way to find the level of COVID-19 in their community. Early last year, the Administration launched Vaccines.gov and an associated call line to help people locate and make appointments at vaccine sites near them. In January of this year, the Administration launched COVIDTests.gov where people could order tests and have them shipped to their homes for free. COVID.gov will allow individuals to access both of these services at one convenient, easy-to-use website. It will also offer information about where to find free high-quality masks and, for the first time, where to access COVID-19 treatments.

COVID.gov will be available in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese and is accessible for those using assistive technologies. The Administration is also making all of these COVID-19 tools available over the phone through the National Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489), which supports over 150 languages. For individuals with disabilities who may need additional support, the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is also available to help at 1-888-677-1199 or via email at DIAL@usaginganddisability.org

New Locator Tool to Help Individuals Access the Over 2,000 Test-to-Treat Sites Across the Country. Today, as part of COVID.gov, the Administration launched a new Test-to-Treat locator tool to help the public access lifesaving drugs if they are sick with COVID-19. President Biden announced in his State of the Union address the creation of the Test-to-Treat initiative. This program creates one-stop-shop locations where people can get a COVID-19 test and receive an oral antiviral treatment, if appropriate for them because they test positive and face high risks from COVID. Since the launch earlier this month, there are now over 2,000 Test-to-Treat locations nationwide, including in pharmacy-based clinics, federally-qualified community health centers (FQHCs), and long-term care facilities. As has been the case since December, people can still be tested and treated by their own health care providers who can appropriately prescribe these oral antivirals at locations where they are being distributed, now more easily identified than ever by the Test to Treat locator.  

Test-to-Treat Available for All Patients in Veteran’s Health Administration and Military Personnel and Their Families. Test-to-Treat is now available for all Veterans Affairs (VA) patients in VA clinics across the country. Linking patients who test positive with treatments that are appropriate for them is the standard of care in VA clinics. Each test done in the VA is linked to a care team, and accompanied by review, patient counseling, and consideration for treatment indication and eligibility. The VA also allows individuals with a positive home test result to have a virtual visit to connect with counseling and to receive oral medication if appropriate. VA sites have access to oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19, and treatment generally is provided on site or delivered via expedited mail. In addition, the Department of Defense (DoD) has made one-stop Test-to-Treat available at more than 60 DoD Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) across the country, with hundreds more primed to start operating soon. MTF patients across the country—including active duty service members and TRICARE beneficiaries—can access Test-to-Treat at facilities in their communities. 

Hundreds of Test-to-Treat Locations in FQHCs and Indian Health Service Facilities Across the Country to Protect Hard-Hit and High-Risk Communities from COVID-19. Test-to-Treat locations also are available in more than 240 FQHCs and Indian Health Service (IHS) Facilities across the country, ensuring access to lifesaving treatments in some of our hardest-hit and highest-risk communities. The number of these locations will continue to grow in the coming weeks, as more and more FQHCs, Rural Health Clinics, and IHS locations come online with Test-to-Treat programs. These community providers will continue to serve as trusted messengers in raising awareness about the availability of lifesaving treatments, and also partner with community-based organizations to reach specific high-risk populations, including individuals with disabilities.

Biden Sends Shockwaves with 9 Words: ‘For God’s Sake, This Man Cannot Remain in Power’

In Warsaw Speech, Stands Up to Putin’s Brutality, Pledges Support to Ukraine

President Joe Biden gave a major speech in Warsaw clearly explaining to Americans and reassuring allies why and what the US is doing to support Ukraine, bolstering the resolve of Ukraine in their fight for freedom and sovereignty,  and, finally, speaking directly to the Russian people, encouraging Russian people to throw off the shackles of a brutal dictator who has brought such misery to their lives. He concluded, saying “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

President Joe Biden, after a powerful visit to Europe – meeting with NATO, G7, the European Union, the President of Poland, US military and Ukrainian refugees – gave a significant speech clearly explaining to Americans and reassuring allies why and what the US is doing to support Ukraine, bolstering the resolve of Ukraine in their fight for freedom and sovereignty,  and, finally, speaking directly to the Russian people, encouraging Russian people to throw off the shackles of a brutal dictator who has brought such misery to their lives.

It was in that context, at the end, he made a nine-word impromptu statement that sent shockwaves around the world – overshadowing everything he said and did before. Some called it a “gaffe”, but it wasn’t a gaffe at all, but a truthful remark:

For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” 

Biden, who always speaks clearly and truthfully, even if inartfully occasionally, spoke genuinely in this statement. For with nine words, he accurately laid the cause of the horror, the atrocities, the misery being rained down on Ukraine and the terror reverberating around the world, on Putin himself. The dictator, who fashions himself as a 21st century Stalin or a Czar bent on empire-building, is the only one who launched the war and the only one who can stop it.

Some attacked Biden for appearing to provoke Putin with a statement that sounded like he was calling for regime change. In a way he is – he summoned the people of Russia to reclaim their own freedom – but did not say this was the policy of the US or the demand before any peace agreement could be made.

But what is clear is that Putin only responds to strength, and up until now, he has been the only one who has threatened to use chemical and nuclear weapons to achieve his ambition. He is the only one who has called for regime change – literally installing Trump in the White House in 2016 (recall, Trump lost by 3 million votes), launching a chemical attack on a previous Ukraine president as candidate, and now is trying to forcibly remove Vladimir Zelenskyy, the democratically elected president of Ukraine, and replace him with a puppet regime, as he did in Belarus.

And after the White House clarified that the President was not calling for a policy of regime change, Biden asserted, “I’m not walking anything back,” Biden said Monday from the White House. “The fact of the matter is I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the way Putin is dealing and the actions of this man, which is just brutality.” He said that he was overcome after meeting with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, Poland.

“I want to make it clear, I wasn’t then nor am I now articulating a policy change,” he said. “I was expressing moral outrage that I feel. I make no apologies for it.”

Biden insisted that his remark would not foul up diplomatic efforts to end the war or spur Putin to escalate hostilities.

“What complicates the situation at the moment is the escalatory efforts of Putin to continue to engage in carnage,” Biden said, “the kind of behavior that makes the whole world say, ‘My God, what is this man doing?”’

in previous remarks, Biden had already declared that “Putin must pay the price” for his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the war crimes he unleashed.

And the fact is that after Biden’s remarks, Russia said it was de-escalating the assault on Kyiv. (Indeed, in the past, Biden’s unscripted remarks have had impact, as when, as Vice President, he said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, and triggered a change in the Obama Administration’s policy that rippled through the nation.)

Biden’s speech was so much more than the nine words. Here is a highlighted transcript: — Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by President Biden on the United Efforts of the Free World to Support the People of Ukraine

The Royal Castle in Warsaw
Warsaw, Poland

6:16 P.M. CET
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Please, if you have a seat, be seated.  (Laughter.)  If you don’t, come up on stage.
 
Thank you very much.  It’s a great honor to be here.  Mr. President, they tell me you’re over there somewhere.  There you are.  Thank you, Mr. President. 
 
“Be not afraid.”  They were the first words at the first public address of the first Polish Pope after his election on October of 1978.  They were words that would come to define Pope John Paul II.  Words that would change the world.
 
John Paul brought the message here to Warsaw in his first trip back home as Pope in June of 1979.  It was a message about the power — the power of faith, the power of resilience, and the power of the people. 
 
In the face of a cruel and brutal system of government, it was a message that helped end the Soviet repression in the Central land and Eastern Europe 30 years ago.  It was a message that will overcome the cruelty and brutality of this unjust war. 
 
When Pope John Paul brought that message in 1979, the Soviet Union ruled with an iron fist behind an Iron Curtain.
 
Then a year later, the Solidarity movement took hold in Poland.  And while I know he couldn’t be here tonight, we’re all grateful in America and around the world for Lech Wałęsa.  (Applause.) 
 
It reminds me of that phrase of philosopher Kierkegaard: “[F]aith sees best in the dark.”  And there were dark moments.
 
Ten years later, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Poland and Central and Eastern Europe would soon be free.  Nothing about that battle for freedom was simple or easy.  It was a long, painful slog fought over not days and months, but years and decades.
 
But we emerged anew in the great battle for freedom: a battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression, between a rules-based order and one governed by brute force.
 
In this battle, we need to be clear-eyed.  This battle will not be won in days or months either.  We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.
 
Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Mayor, members of the Parliament, distinguished guests, and the people of Poland, and I suspect some people of Ukraine that are here: We’re — (applause) — we are gathered here at the Royal Castle in this city that holds a sacred place in the history of not only of Europe, but humankind’s unending search for freedom.
 
For generations, Warsaw has stood where liberty has been challenged and liberty has prevailed.
 
In fact, it was here in Warsaw when a young refugee, who fled her home country from Czechoslovakia was under Soviet domination, came back to speak and stand in solidarity with dissidents.
 
Her name was Madeleine Korbel Albright.  She became — (applause) — one of the most ardent supporters of democracy in the world.  She was a friend with whom I served.  America’s first woman Secretary of State.  She passed away three days ago.
 
She fought her whole life for essential democratic principles.  And now, in the perennial struggle for democracy and freedom, Ukraine and its people are on the frontlines fighting to save their nation.
 
And their brave resistance is part of a larger fight for an essential democratic principles that unite all free people: the rule of law; free and fair elections; the freedom to speak, to write, and to assemble; the freedom to worship as one chooses; freedom of the press.
 
These principles are essential in a free society.  (Applause.)  But they have always — they have always been under siege.  They’ve always been embattled.  Every generation has had to defeat democracy’s mortal foes.  That’s the way of the world — for the world is imperfect, as we know.  Where the appetites and ambitions of a few forever seek to dominate the lives and liberties of many.
 
My message to the people of Ukraine is the message I delivered today to Ukraine’s Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, who I believe are here tonight: We stand with you.  Period.  (Applause.)
 
Today’s fighting in Kyiv and Mariupol and Kharkiv are the latest battle in a long struggle: Hungary, 1956; Poland, 1956 then again 1981; Czechoslovakia, 1968. 
 
Soviet tanks crushed democratic uprisings, but the resistance continued until finally, in 1989, the Berlin Wall and all of the walls of Soviet domination — they fell.  They fell.  And the people prevailed.  (Applause.)
 
But the battle for democracy could not conclude and did not conclude with the end of the Cold War.
 
Over the last 30 years, the forces of autocracy have revived all across the globe.  Its hallmarks are familiar ones: contempt for the rule of law, contempt for democratic freedom, contempt for the truth itself.
 
Today, Russia has strangled democracy — has sought to do so elsewhere, not only in its homeland.  Under false claims of ethnic solidarity, it has invalidated [invaded] neighboring nations.
 
Putin has the gall to say he’s “de-Nazifying” Ukraine.  It’s a lie.  It’s just cynical.  He knows that.  And it’s also obscene.
 
President Zelenskyy was democratically elected.  He’s Jewish.  His father’s family was wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust.  And Putin has the audacity, like all autocrats before him, to believe that might will make right.
 
In my own country, a former president named Abraham Lincoln voiced the opposing spirit to save our Union in the midst of a civil war.  He said, “Let us have faith that right makes might.”  “Right makes might.”  (Applause.) 
 
Today, let us now have that faith again.  Let us resolve to put the strength of democracies into action to thwart the designs of autocracy.  Let us remember that the test of this moment is the test of all time.
 
The Kremlin wants to portray NATO enlargement as an imperial project aimed at destabilizing Russia.  Nothing is further from the truth.  NATO is a defensive alliance.  It has never sought the demise of Russia.
 
In the lead-up to the current crisis, the United States and NATO worked for months to engage Russia to avert a war.  I met with him in person and talked to him many times on the phone. 
 
Time and again, we offered real diplomacy and concrete proposals to strengthen European security, enhance transparency, and build confidence on all sides.
 
But Putin and Russia met each of the proposals with disinterest in any negotiation, with lies and ultimatums.  Russia was bent on violence from the start.
 
I know not all of you believed me and us when we kept saying, “They are going to cross the border.  They are going to attack.” 
 
Repeatedly, he asserted, “We have no interest in war.”  Guaranteed he would not move. 
 
Repeatedly saying he would not invade Ukraine.
 
Repeatedly saying Russian troops along the border were there for “training” — all 180,000 of them. 
 
There is simply no justification or provocation for Russia’s choice of war.  It’s an example of one of the oldest of human impulses: using brute force and disinformation to satisfy a craving for absolute power and control.
 
It’s nothing less than a direct challenge to the rule-based international order established since the end of World War Two.
 
And it threatens to return to decades of war that ravaged Europe before the international rule-based order was put in place.  We cannot go back to that.  We cannot.   
 
The gravity of the threat is why the response of the West has been so swift and so powerful and so unified, unprecedented, and overwhelming.
 
Swift and punishing costs are the only things that are going to get Russia to change its course. 
 
Within days of its invasion, the West had moved jointly with sanctions to damage Russia’s economy.
 
Russia’s Central Bank is now blocked from the global financial systems, denying Kremlin’s access to the war fund it stashed around the globe.
 
We’ve aimed at the heart of Russia’s economy by stopping the imports of Russian energy to the United States.
 
To date, the United States has sanctioned 140 Russian oligarchs and their family members, seizing their ill-begotten gains: their yachts, their luxury apartments, their mansions.
 
We’ve sanctioned more than 400 Russian government officials, including key architects of this war.
 
These officials and oligarchs have reaped enormous benefit from the corruption connected to the Kremlin, and now they have to share in the pain. 
 
The private sector is acting as well.  Over 400 private multinational companies have pulled out of doing business in Russia — left Russia completely — from oil companies to McDonald’s.  
 
As a result of these unprecedented sanctions, the ruble almost is immediately reduced to rubble.  The Russian economy — (applause) — that’s true, by the way.  It takes about 200 rubles to equal one dollar. 
 
The economy is on track to be cut in half in the coming years.  It was ranked — Russia’s economy was ranked the 11th biggest economy in the world before this invasion.  It will soon not even rank among the top 20 in the world.
  (Applause.) 
 
Taken together, these economic sanctions are a new kind of economic statecraft with the power to inflict damage that rivals military might.
 
These international sanctions are sapping Russian strength, its ability to replenish its military, and its ability — its ability to project power.  And it is Putin — it is Vladimir Putin who is to blame, period.   
 
At the same time, alongside these economic sanctions, the Western world has come together to provide for the people of Ukraine with incredible levels of military, economic, and humanitarian assistance.
 
In the years before the invasion, we, America, had sent over $650 million, before they crossed the border, in weapons to Ukraine, including anti-air and anti-armor equipment.
 
Since the invasion, America has committed another $1.35 billion in weapons and ammunition.
 
And thanks to the courage and bravery of the Ukrainian people — (applause) — the equipment we’ve sent and our colleagues have sent have been used to devastating effect to defend Ukrainian land and airspace.  Our Allies and partners have stepped up as well.
 
But as I’ve made clear: American forces are in Europe — not in Europe to engage in conflict with Russian forces.  American forces are here to defend NATO Allies.
 
Yesterday, I met with the troops that are serving alongside our Polish allies to bolster NATO’s frontline defenses.  The reason we wanted to make clear is their movement on Ukraine: Don’t even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory.
 
We have a sacred obligation — (applause) — we have a sacred obligation under Article 5 to defend each and every inch of NATO territory with the full force of our collective power.
 
And earlier today, I visited your National Stadium, where thousands of Ukrainian refugees are now trying to answer the toughest questions a human can ask: “My God, what’s going to happen to me?  What’s going to happen to my family?”
 
I saw tears in many of the mothers’ eyes as I embraced them; their young children — their young children not sure whether to smile or cry.  One little girl said, “Mr. President” — she spoke a little English — “is my brother and my daddy — are they going to be okay?  Will I see them again?”  Without their husbands, their fathers, in many cases, their brothers or sisters who stayed back to fight for their country.
 
I didn’t have to speak the language or understand the language to feel the emotion in their eyes, the way they gripped my hand, and little kids hung on to my leg, praying with a desperate hope that all this is temporary; apprehension that they may be perhaps forever away from their homes, almost with debilitating sadness that this is happening all over again.
 
But I was also struck by the generosity of the people of Warsaw — for that matter, all the Polish people — for the depths of their compassion, their willingness to reach out — (applause) — opening their hearts.
 
I was saying to the Mayor they’re preparing to open their hearts and their homes simply to help.  I also want to thank my friend, the great American chef, José Andrés, and his team who helped feeling [sic] those — (applause) — feeding those who are yearning to be free. 
 
But helping these refugees is not something Poland or any other nation should carry alone.  All the world democracies have a responsibility to help.  All of them.  And the people of Ukraine can count on the United States to meet its responsibility.
 
I’ve announced, two days ago, we will welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.  We already have 8,000 a week coming to the United States of other nationalities.
 
We’ll provide nearly $300 million of humanitarian assistance, providing tens of thousands of tons of food, water, medicine, and other basic supplies.
 
In Brussels, I announced the United States is prepared to provide more than $1 billion, in addition, in humanitarian aid.
 
The World Food Programme told us that despite significant obstacles, at least some relief is getting to major cities in Ukraine, but not Mariupol, because Russian forces are blocking relief supplies.
 
But we’ll not cease our efforts to get humanitarian relief wherever it is needed in Ukraine and for the people who’ve made it out of Ukraine.

 
Notwithstanding the brutality of Vladimir Putin, let there be no doubt that this war has already been a strategic failure for Russia already.  (Applause.)  Having lost children myself — I know that’s no solace to the people who’ve lost family.  
 
But he, Putin, thought Ukrainians would roll over and not fight.  Not much of a student of history.  Instead, Russian forces have met their match with brave and stiff Ukrainian resistance.
 
Rather than breaking Ukrainian resolve, Russia’s brutal tactics have strengthened the resolve.  (Applause.)
 
Rather than driving NATO apart, the West is now stronger and more united than it has ever been.  (Applause.)
 
Russia wanted less of a NATO presence on its border, but now [we have] a stronger presence, a larger presence, with over a hundred thousand American troops here, along with all the other members of NATO.
 
In fact — (applause) — Russia has managed to cause something I’m sure he never intended: The democracies of the world are revitalized with purpose and unity found in months that we’d once taken years to accomplish.
 
It’s not only Russia’s actions in Ukraine that are reminding us of democracy’s blessing.  It’s his own country, the Kremlin, is jailing protestors.  Two hundred thousand people have allegedly already left.  There’s a brain drain — leaving Russia.  Shutting down independent news.  State media is all propaganda, blocking the image of civilian targets, mass graves, starvation tactics of the Russian forces in Ukraine.  
 
Is it any wonder, as I said, that 200,000 Russians have all left their country in one month?  A remarkable brain drain in such a short period of time, which brings me to my message to the Russian people:
 
I’ve worked with Russian leaders for decades.  I sat across the negotiating table going all the way back to Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin to talk arms control at the height of the Cold War.
 
I’ve always spoken directly and honestly to you, the Russian people. 
 
Let me say this, if you’re able to listen: You, the Russian people, are not our enemy. 
 
I refuse to believe that you welcome the killing of innocent children and grandparents or that you accept hospitals, schools, maternity wards that, for God’s sake, are being pummeled with Russian missiles and bombs; or cities being surrounded so that civilians cannot flee; supplies cut off and attempting to starve Ukrainians into submission. 
 
Millions of families are being driven from their homes, including half of all Ukraine’s children.  These are not the actions of a great nation. 
 
Of all people, you, the Russian people, as well as all people across Europe, still have the memory of being in a similar situation in the late thirties and forties — the situation of World War Two — still fresh in the minds of many grandparents in the region.
 
What — whatever your generation experienced — whether it experienced the Siege of Leningrad or heard about it from your parents and grandparents — train stations overflowing with terrified families fleeing their homes; nights sheltering in basements and cellars; mornings sitting through the rubble in your homes — these are not memories of the past.  Not anymore.  Because it’s exactly what the Russian army is doing in Ukraine right now. 
 
March 26, 2022.  Just days before you were a 21st century nation with hopes and dreams that people all over the world have for themselves and their family. 
 
Now, Vladimir Putin’s aggression have cut you, the Russian people, off from the rest of the world, and it’s taking Russia back to the 19th century.
 
This is not who you are.  This is not the future reserve — you deserve for your families and your children.  I’m telling you the truth: This war is not worthy of you, the Russian people.
 
Putin can and must end this war.  The American people stand with you and the brave citizens of Ukraine who want peace.
 
And my message to the rest of Europe: This new battle for freedom has already made a few things crystal clear. 
 
First, Europe must end its dependence on Russian fossil fuels.  And we, the United States, will help.  (Applause.)  That’s why just yesterday, in Brussels, I announced a plan with the President of the European Commission to get Europe through the immediate energy crisis.
 
Over the long term, as a matter of economic security and national security and for the survivability of the planet, we all need to move as quickly as possible to clean, renewable energy.  And we’ll work together to help get that done so that the days of any nation being subject to the whims of a tyrant for its energy needs are over.  They must end.  They must end.  
 
And second, we have to fight the corruption coming from the Kremlin to give the Russian people a fair chance.
 
And finally, and most urgently, we maintain absolute unity — we must — among the world’s democracies.
 
It’s not enough to speak with rhetorical flourish, of ennobling words of democracy, of freedom, equality, and liberty.  All of us, including here in Poland, must do the hard work of democracy each and every day.  My country as well.  
 
That’s why — (applause) — that’s why I came to Europe again this week with a clear and determined message for NATO, for the G7, for the European Union, for all freedom-loving nations: We must commit now to be in this fight for the long haul.  We must remain unified today and tomorrow and the day after and for the years and decades to come.  (Applause.)
 
It will not be easy.  There will be costs.  But it’s a price we have to pay.  Because the darkness that drives autocracy is ultimately no match for the flame of liberty that lights the souls of free people everywhere.
 
Time and again, history shows that it’s from the darkest moments that the greatest progress follows.  And history shows this is the task of our time, the task of this generation.
 
Let’s remember: The hammer blow that brought down the Berlin Wall, the might that lifted the Iron Curtain were not the words of a single leader; it was the people of Europe who, for decades, fought to free themselves.
 
Their sheer bravery opened the border between Austria and Hungary for the Pan-European Picnic.  They joined hands for the Baltic Way.  They stood for Solidarity here in Poland.  And together, it was an unmistakable and undeniable force of the people that the Soviet Union could not withstand.
 
And we’re seeing it once again today with the brave Ukrainian people, showing that their power of many is greater than the will of any one dictator.  (Applause.)
 
So, in this hour, let the words of Pope John Paul burn as brightly today: “Never, ever give up hope, never doubt, never tire, never become discouraged.  Be not afraid.”  (Applause.) 
 
A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people’s love for liberty.  Brutality will never grind down their will to be free.  Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia — for free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness.
 
We will have a different future — a brighter future rooted in democracy and principle, hope and light, of decency and dignity, of freedom and possibilities. 
 
For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power. 
 
God bless you all.  And may God defend our freedom.  (Applause.)  And may God protect our troops.   Thank you for your patience.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.

6:43 P.M. CET

NYS Launches Website with Resources to Assist Ukrainians and Their Allies

Resources Include Support Services,
Immigration Assistance, Emotional Support, Humanitarian Aid and Information on
Ways to Show your Support

Visit the Website Here

Ukrainian Long Islanders rally outside the Russian Compound in Glen Cove, NY. New York State, with one of the largest populations of Ukrainian Americans, is expanding support services © Karen Rubin/nws-photos-features.com

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the launch of a new website containing resources offered by New York State and its partners to help Ukrainian people and their friends and allies here in New York. This follows the Governor’s announcement warning consumers about scams and cybersecurity threats amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In an additional show of support, the Governor also announced the Ukrainian flag will be flown on the Capitol building, the Executive Mansion, and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services headquarters.

“Ukraine’s resilience against Vladimir Putin’s tyranny is an inspiration to the rest of the world, and many New Yorkers are already doing their part to support humanitarian efforts,” Governor Hochul said. “In moments like these, New Yorkers always stand together to support those in need. We are proud to provide trusted resources for those who want to lend a helping hand for our Ukrainian brothers and sisters here in New York.”

This directive comes amid Governor Hochul’s ongoing efforts to support Ukraine. Last week, the Governor announced an Executive Order to prohibit state agencies and authorities from contracting with entities that continue to do business in Russia. In early March, Governor Hochul announced actions to strengthen the Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) enforcement of sanctions against Russia, including the expedited procurement of additional blockchain analytics technology. In February, Governor Hochul ordered all state agencies and authorities to divest public funds from Russia and stop doing business with Russian companies.

Resources available on the website include:

Support Services

The Office for New Americans (ONA) provides a variety of free support services to all immigrants and refugees in New York State, regardless of status, such as:

  • Access to free legal support including asylum applications and deportation defense through its network of legal service providers
  • English language courses through its network of Opportunity Centers
  • Access to mental health support groups through its Golden Door Program
  • Workforce readiness tools including resume writing, digital literacy skills, and credentialing evaluation
  • Support to access developmental disability services through the ONA Ramirez June Initiative

Visit the Office of New Americans website here or contact their hotline at 1-800-566-7636. The NYS New Americans Hotline connects immigrants and refugees to free services across the state. The Hotline operates from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. All calls are confidential. Assistance is available in over 200 languages, including Ukrainian and Russian.

If you are a U.S. citizen in Ukraine, the U.S. State Department has resources for those wishing to depart. They also offer travel conditions and land border guidance for surrounding countries including Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova.

U.S. citizens in Ukraine should complete this online form so that the State Department can communicate with you. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Ukraine can also call 1-833-741-2777 (in the United States) or 1-606-260-4379 (from overseas) for immediate assistance. You can also visit the Ukraine Crisis page on the State Department’s website here.

The Consulate General of Ukraine in New York is currently providing consular services. However, all consular services which require receiving documents from Ukraine, including issuance of new passports and visa services, have been suspended until further notice.

If you have visa or passport questions, you can contact the Consulate General by emailing gc_usn@mfa.gov.ua or calling either 212-371-6965 or 212-371-5690.

Ukrainians in New York and who are experiencing an emergency situation (e.g. detention), can call the Consulate’s hotline number at 917-325-1444 for assistance.

Immigration Assistance

Protections may be available for eligible Ukrainians already present in the U.S. As a result of the Russian military invasion, the Department of Homeland Security announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukraine for 18 months. Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. Ukrainians eligible for TPS can contact the NYS New Americans Hotline for free legal assistance at 1-800-566-7636.

If you have recently been granted asylum, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, through contracted providers, offers free services to asylees across New York State.

Visit a provider in your area that can assist you with:

  • Finding employment
  • Free health screening and immunizations
  • Accessing other support services

Find a provider in your area here and learn more about refugee services and assistance for immigrants here.

Emotional Support

If you need 24-Hour Phone Support: You can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline by calling 1-800-985-5990. Callers can connect with counselors for support in 100+ languages via 3rd party interpretation, including in Ukrainian and Russian.

If you need a 24-hour Crisis Text Line: Text GOT5 to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor.

For 24-Hour Support for Deaf or hard of hearing American Sign Language users: The national Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) is now offering direct crisis counseling and support for Deaf or hard of hearing American Sign Language users via a dedicated videophone option. Disaster survivors and responders can connect with trained DDH crisis workers fluent in ASL by dialing 1-800-985-5990 from a videophone-enabled device or via an “ASL Now” link which can be accessed at DisasterDistress.samhsa.gov.

Humanitarian Aid

Avoid donation scams. Anytime disasters occur, scam artists prey on the heartstrings of individuals looking to help. The invasion of Ukraine provides an opportunity for fraudsters to set up fake charities or pose as compelling war victims. Others design websites to mimic a legitimate charity’s official site to steal unsuspecting donors’ money and/or personal information.

To prevent donation money from falling into the wrong hands, the New York State Division of Consumer Protection recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Verify the request. Scammers are more frequently posing as friends, family or romantic interests on social media and requesting donations. If you receive an unsolicited request for donation relief online, even if it appears to be someone you know, connect with the person directly through a different communication link to verify the request. Do not click on any links or complete forms before verifying the source. If the request is coming from someone you only recently met online, it is most likely a scam and you should be especially wary.
  • Research the charity. Don’t rely on a charity website alone. Search online before donating to any charity using the name of the group plus search terms like “review” and “scam”. The Federal Trade Commission recommends checking with give.orgcharitynavigator.orgcharitywatch.org, or candid.org to see reports and ratings for charities. You can also check with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for verification that a charity is registered. The Office of the Attorney General also recommends reviewing the Charities Registry for financial reports prior to donating to ensure the charity is fiscally sound.
  • Resist high-pressure tactics. While the situation is urgent, consumers should resist being pressured to donate immediately. Scammers often pressure you to donate immediately, causing you to overlook red flags in their story. Beware of direct e-mails from “victims” and solicitors who employ heart-wrenching stories, insisting that you donate immediately. Do not to give money over the phone to unsolicited telemarketers; instead, ask the caller to send written materials about the charity and where to donate, if you choose.
  • Keep personal information private. Never give your Social Security number, credit card or debit card number, or other personal identifying information in response to an unsolicited charitable request. If donating online, ensure that your internet connection is secure before following through on donation requests.
  • Ask how your money will be spent. Consumers want to know that their money is going directly to the victims. A genuine charity should be able to let you know how much of your donation will go directly to the program as opposed to administrative fees.
  • Donate by check or credit card. Never give money using cash, gift cards, crypto currency, or any tender that would be difficult to trace. Give your contribution by check or credit card to ensure that you have a record of the donation. Make checks out to the charity, not to an individual. If you choose to donate via a charity’s website, check that the website is secure and that your computer is equipped with the latest anti-virus protection.

If you suspect that you have encountered a fraudulent attempt to receive donations, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Consumer Protection here.

The Division’s Consumer Assistance Hotline is open Monday to Friday, excluding State holidays, 8:30am to 4:30pm at 1-800-697-1220. You can find more information and tips by following the Division of Consumer Protection on social media on Twitter (@NYSConsumer) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/nysconsumer).

Show Your Support

Show your support through the use of New York-branded social media graphics for FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Instagram Story. You can also spread the word about how to show support to the humanitarian response through the social media toolkit here.

On 1-Year Anniversary of American Rescue Plan, Highlighting the Difference in People’s Lives

ARP powered historic jobs recovery – with the largest calendar increase in jobs on record, unemployment down to 3.8%, and record drops in Hispanic Unemployment and Youth Unemployment – and ensured less scarring than any recovery in memory.

Among the ways the American Rescue Plan, signed a year ago, had a positive impact on people’s lives is funding the distribution of 200 million vaccines and millions of therapeutics, saving lives and spurring the biggest, fastest rebound in the economy in the world © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With the focus on Ukraine’s desperate fight against Russia’s criminal war and President Joe Biden’s role in marshaling the free world in its defense, little attention is being paid to the Biden Administration’s domestic actions that are having real achievements. On the one-year anniversary of the American Rescue Plan, the White House highlighted the difference the ARP is making in ordinary people’s lives; – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Lowering Health Care Costs and Increasing Health Coverage

  • 14.5 million Americans – the most ever – signed up for ACA marketplace plans due to, on average, 50% lower costs in premiums for returning consumers.
    • Nationwide, existing consumers with a new or updated plan selection after ARP saved an average of $67 (or 50%) per consumer per month on premiums, totaling $537 million per month in savings. In twenty states and the District of Columbia, existing consumers saved over $75 per month, on average, due to the ARP.
       
  • 5.8 million more Americans have health insurance today than a year ago. Between 2016 and 2019, 3.6 million Americans lost coverage.
     
  • A family of four is saving an average of $2,400 on their annual premiums. Four out of five consumers could find quality coverage for under $10 a month.
     

Investing in Mental Health:

  • $3 billion invested in expanding access to mental health and substance use services at the state level – largest one-time investment in history for mental health and substance use programs.
     
  • Billions more in American Rescue Plan funding are being used to address mental health challenges affecting our children, including through hiring school social workers and counselors. With the help of American Rescue Plan K-12 funding, schools have already seen a 65% increase in social workers, and a 17% increase in counselors. 

 
Fighting COVID

  • Distributed 200 million vaccines, and millions of therapeutics using ARP dollars.
     
  • 375 million at-home tests per month now available; before ARP, no at-home tests.
     
  • $14.5 billion to address COVID for America’s veterans, including support for 37,000 homeless veterans.

 
Getting Kids Back in School

  • Today, 99% of schools are openBefore ARPonly 46% of schools were open in-person.
     
  • Major Investments in Keeping Schools Open, Combatting Learning Loss & Addressing Mental Health Challenges: Independent experts estimate based on school district plans that 59% of school districts are using ARP funds to hire/retain teachers and counselors, 35% are using ARP funds to hire/retain psychologists and mental health staff, and 52% are using ARP funds for HVAC and ventilation.
     
  • A survey from the School Superintendents Association indicated 82% of superintendents plan to use funds to expand social, emotional, mental and physical health and development.

 
Supporting Working Families

  • Expanded Child Tax Credit for Working Families – Helping Deliver Record Lows in Child Poverty.
    • The 2021 CTC will reach a record nearly 40 million families with 65 million children.
    • Expanded $3,000 credit for kids age 6-17 and $3,600 for kids under 6
    • Experts estimate that the Child Tax Credit was the main driver in the American Rescue Plan bringing child poverty to record lows in 2021– including record low Black and Hispanic child poverty.
       
  • Economic Impact Payments for Vast Majority of Americans
    • Over 170 million Economic Impact Payments to 85% of all Americans – including an additional 19+ million payments to Social Security beneficiaries, 3 million payments to SSI beneficiaries, and 320,000 payments to Veterans who would not have received these benefits under normal tax filing requirements.
       
  • Ensured Kids didn’t go hungry in the summer
    • Estimated 30 million kids fed with first nationwide Summer supplemental nutrition program – more than 10x higher than 2019 summer meals for kids.
       
  • Unprecedented Emergency Rental Relief and Eviction Prevention
    • Over 4 million Emergency Rental Assistance payments to tenants in a single year – by orders of magnitude the largest eviction prevention effort in history.
    • Eviction filings at just 60% of historic averages in 5 months after CDC moratorium – even though some had projected an eviction tsunami.
       
  • More than doubled the amount of LIHEAP – the most ever going to help with Heating and Cooling Costs of well over 5 million households

 
Helping People Get Back to Work

  • Most One-Time Support for Childcare Providers Ever to Keep Them Open and Operating
    • 150,000+ providers supported by childcare stabilization payments so far, the most support for childcare providers ever.
    • More than 5 million children served by these providers.
       
  • Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for Workers
    • Tripled EITC for 17 million workers without dependent children from $540 to $1500 – first increase since 1993 – and extended the credit to younger & older workers.
    • Helping millions of front-line workers: This expansion will help nearly 1.8 million cashiers and retail salespeople; almost 1 million cooks and food prep workers; and more than 850,000 nurses and health aides, 500,000 janitors, 400,000 truck and delivery drivers, and 300,000 childcare workers.
       
  • Getting Americans Back to Work with State and Local Investments
    • Over half of states and scores of cities across the country have invested in workforce development, apprenticeships, training, and premium pay for essential workers – with premium pay to nearly 750,000 essential workers.
    • State and local governments added 467,000 jobs in 2021 – best year since 2001.

Staying True to Our Veterans:

  • ARP provided resources for veterans currently receiving housing support, including an estimated 37,000 homeless veterans.
     
  • ARP cancelled health care copayment charges for 2.5 million veterans during the pandemic – worth $1 billion.
     
  • ARP Child Tax Credit expansion meant that roughly 5 million children in veteran and Active Duty families are receiving the credit for 2021, per CBPP estimates.
     
  • ARP invested in 16,000 veterans’ health care with ARP funds for 158 State Veterans Homes operations and for State Veterans Home renovations and capital projects.
  • ARP funding is enabling the Veterans Benefits Administration to reduce the claims backlog from 212,000 in March 2021 to 100,000 by September 2022.  

 
Rescuing and Transforming Our Communities:

  • Dozens of cities and 21 states have already committed ARP Fiscal Recovery Funds to public safety, including critical investments in gun crime prevention – hiring and retaining police officers for community policing and investing in critical technology to take on increases in gun and other violent crimes, and supporting evidence-based community violence interventions and summer youth employment.
     
  • State and local, Education and HUD investments in affordable housing and fighting homelessness:
    • ARP Department of Education program to provide services and enable full attendance for students experiencing homelessness will reach 1.5 million children. 
    • ARP added about 70,000 emergency vouchers to the rental market through HUD.
    • ARP funded new housing counseling program which is expected to provide 80,000 housing counseling sessions.
    • Roughly half of cities and states are investing some portion of their State and Local Funds in housing assistance and investments  from New Jersey’s $750 million eviction prevention and utilities program to Austin and Travis County’s $200 million ARP investment in a comprehensive plan to take on its homelessness crisis.
       
  • Broadband Investments underway across the country: 20 states have already invested Fiscal Recovery Funds to expand broadband access – in addition to $10 billion Capital Projects Fund which they can use to help ensure that all communities have access to high quality modern infrastructure needed to access critical services, including broadband.
    • Even with more on the way, states and territories have already announced about $9 billion in ARP investments to expand high speed internet access.
       
  • Long-needed investments in clean water: with 21 states already committing Fiscal Recovery Funds to improve water and sewer infrastructure, including removing lead pipes.
    • Even with more on the way, states and territories have already announced investing $7.5 billion in ARP funds for water and sewer improvements.

Providing Permanent Tax Relief for Puerto Rico Families

  • Made hundreds of thousands of families in Puerto Rico eligible for CTC for first time – previously ~90% of families excluded from CTC.
     
  • First-ever Federal Support for Puerto Rico’s EITC, more than tripling workers’ benefits.

Most support ever for Tribal Communities

  • $32 billion to Tribal communities and Native people, the largest in assistance to tribal governments in history.

FACT SHEET:
How The American Rescue Plan Is Keeping America’s Schools Open Safely, Combating Learning Loss, And Addressing Student Mental Health
 

On March 11, 2021 – one year ago – President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act into law, an unprecedented $1.9 trillion package of emergency assistance measures. The ARP provides a historic investment in America’s preschool through twelfth grade (P-12) schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to keep schools safely open, tackle learning loss and mental health. These funds include $122 billion for P-12 schools in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds. ARP also dedicated an additional $8 billion to states and school districts to meet the needs of certain student populations, including over $3 billion for students with disabilities and $800 million for children and youth experiencing homelessness.
 
ARP has already had a significant impact on schools across the country: over the last year, states, school districts, and schools have used these funds to safely reopen and sustain in-person instruction, combat learning loss, and address students’ mental health needs.
 
In his State of the Union address last week, President Biden called on schools to hire more teachers, urged the American people to sign up to be tutors and mentors, and – as part of his unity agenda – encouraged the country to come together to address child mental health. ARP ESSER funds are supporting this agenda in several ways:

  • Schools have gone from 46% open before ARP to 99% safe and open today: Before ARP was signed into law, just 46 percent of America’s P-12 schools were open for full-time, in-person learning. Today, over 99 percent of P-12 schools are open for full-time, in-person instruction.
     
  • ARP led to record growth in local education jobs that are critical to meeting students’ academic and mental health needs: Although there is more work to do to address longstanding educator shortages and return to pre-pandemic levels, ARP has led to record jobs growth in the education sector. With the help of ARP ESSER funding, local governments added more than 279,000 education jobs in 2021 – the best calendar year of jobs growth since records began in 1956 – and added an additional nearly 46,000 jobs in the first two months of 2022. Schools have already seen a 65% increase in social workers and a 17% increase in counselors relative to before the pandemic.
     
  • Analysis of school district plans shows overwhelming majority of funds are being used for priorities like teachers, counselors, academic recovery, mental health, and health and safety measures like ventilation improvements:  FutureEd – an education think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy – analyzed data on a representative sample of over 3,000 school districts’ plans covering 55% of ARP ESSER funds. This analysis showed:
    • Nearly 60% of funds are being used to:
      • invest in staffing – both retaining current staff and expanding professional development opportunities, as well as recruiting, hiring and training of new teachers, school staff and mental health professionals to increase school capacity and meet the academic and mental health needs of students;
      • combat learning loss through student support programs such as evidence-based tutoring, expanded after-school and summer learning and enrichment programs, and the purchase of millions of new textbooks and learning materials; and 
      • supporting the physical and mental health of students and educators.
    • Another 24% is being invested in keeping schools operating safely, including providing PPE and updating school facilities to support health and safety. This includes investments in lead abatement and an estimated nearly $10 billion for improvements to HVAC and ventilation.
       
  • ARP has fueled investments in education spending and accelerated the rate of spending of education relief funds by five to six times: Before the passage of ARP, states and school districts were spending a total of a little more than $500 million per month of federal emergency relief funds for education. Since the passage of the ARP and the assurance to states and school districts that critical funds were on their way, the monthly rate of spending of ESSER funds from ARP and earlier relief legislation has accelerated to more than $3 billion per month – an increase of five to six times.
     
  • All 50 states submitted clear spending plans that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Education: On March 24, less than two weeks after ARP was signed, two-thirds of funds – $81 billion – were released. To ensure funds would be used effectively, states had to submit and receive approval on their spending plan to receive their final third of funds. As of December 2021, every state, plus DC and Puerto Rico, submitted a plan, the U.S. Department of Education has approved all plans, and all $122 billion in ARP ESSER funds have been made available to states.
     
  • Survey of 600 school superintendents shows school leaders are meeting the challenge of the President’s unity agenda by using funds for students’ mental health and other developmental needs: The COVID-19 pandemic has subjected many young Americans to social isolation, loss of routines, and traumatic grief – increasing the need for mental health supports. A recent survey by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, found that 82% of districts plan to use funds to address this need by expanding supports for social, emotional, mental, and physical health and development.
     
  • States and school districts have deployed funds strategically while engaging meaningfully with their communities – including parents: In developing their spending plans, states and school districts were required to engage members of the community, including parents, educators, students, representatives of students with disabilities and others. The U.S. Department of Education continues to encourage states and school districts to consult with these critical partners on how to ensure these funds have the most impact in classrooms.

ARP ESSER-Funded State and District Activities
From the U.S. Department of Education
 
Safely Reopening Schools and Sustaining Safe Operations
Safely reopening schools and keeping them open safely are essential for student learning and well-being. 

  • Houston Independent School District (HISD) in Texas has allocated ARP ESSER funds to campuses for COVID-19 mitigation efforts. HISD has provided COVID-19 testing at 90 percent of its campuses and has hosted nearly 100 vaccine clinics.
     
  • The DeKalb County School District in Georgia upgraded air filters from MERV 8 to MERV 13 in every school facility that could accommodate that size filter and took steps to improve ventilation in all other schools using ARP ESSER funding.
     
  • White Plains City School District in New York will use a combination of local and federal funds to replace the HVAC units across their district to provide a safer learning environment for students and staff. Upon completion, the total project will cost $26.3 million, with nearly one-third of the funding coming from relief funds, including ARP ESSER.

Combating Learning Loss
States and school districts have the resources they need, and are required to address the impacts of the pandemic on students’ learning. States and districts nationwide are using funds to hire teachers and other instructional staff, launch tutoring, summer and afterschool programs (which states are required to fund), and make long-overdue investments in instructional materials. States are specifically required to address the needs of students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including students with disabilities, English learners, and students experiencing homelessness.
 
Recruiting, Retaining, and Expanding Professional Development of Staff:

  • Maine School Administrative District 11 is addressing gaps in learning opportunities by using ARP ESSER funds to hire nine new teachers and implement a new math, language arts, and social studies program. The additional teachers permitted the district to reduce class sizes from 22-24 students to an average of 14-16 students. The district has provided external and internal coaching, ongoing professional learning, and additional support to educators and staff.
     
  • Gaston County Schools in North Carolina is adding an additional teacher and a temporary employee per school to decrease class sizes, help manage workloads and provide classroom coverage in each of its 54 schools using ARP ESSER funding. This supports and helps retain current teachers, who are less likely to have to give up planning time to cover another classroom, or combine classrooms, and also benefits students whose learning is less likely to be disrupted by the absence of another teacher.
     
  • The Asheville City Schools Board of Education in North Carolina is using ARP ESSER funds for a bonus of $3,000 to $3,500 over the course of the year for full-time teachers and faculty in order to increase staff retention.
     
  • Providence Public School District in Rhode Island is launching new incentives to recruit and retain highly-qualified educators, including early signing bonuses for newly-hired educators and support staff in hard-to-fill positions using  ARP ESSER funding.

Summer Learning and Enrichment:  

  • In New Mexico, the College and Career Readiness Bureau of the New Mexico Public Education Department launched the Summer Enrichment Internship Program in 2021 using ARP ESSER funding. The program covers the cost of summer internships for New Mexico high school students and provides high school students, particularly those most impacted by the pandemic, with the opportunity to participate in high-quality internships in government agencies, including county, tribal, and municipal placements. Over 300 community partners and 1,200 student interns participated across 26 counties. Summer jobs programs like these that engage students are also important community violence intervention strategies. This program will continue in the summer of 2022 as well.
     
  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District in Ohio used ARP ESSER funds to increase summer learning participation seven-fold. In 2021, 8,400 students participated in summer school, compared to 1,000-1,200 students in previous years. Focused on “Finish, Enrich, and Engage,” the expanded summer school offered 12 weeks of programming that allowed for credit accumulation and unfinished learning. Students engaged in problem-based learning units in the morning with engagement activities like clubs and sports in the afternoon. This inclusive programming, which included students with disabilities and multilingual learners, will continue in summer 2022.
     
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Education is using ARP ESSER funds to implement evidence-based summer learning and enrichment programs and to expand afterschool programming through partnerships with community organizations. They provide for social, emotional, and academic support and access to technology. This initial investment of $6 million provided services through 28 organizations, at 140 sites, serving an average 11,000 students a month through the summer of 2021.

Tutoring: 

  • The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education has established the Arkansas Tutoring Corps using ARP ESSER funding. The Arkansas Tutoring Corps program includes recruitment, preparation, and support for candidates to become qualified tutors to provide instruction or intervention to meet the academic needs of students most impacted by lost instructional time. A system connects prepared candidates with organizations seeking to support students’ academic needs. The program is already enhancing learning experiences of students due to loss of instructional time and addressing gaps in foundational skills in mathematics and literacy.

 
Meeting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs
Districts and states must use a portion of ARP ESSER funds for evidence-based interventions that respond to students’ social, and emotional needs – such as the ability to collaborate with others or persist through difficult challenges – and to support students’ mental health. Districts must specifically address the impact of the pandemic on groups of students that were disproportionately impacted. 
 
Hiring Counselors and Increasing Supports:

  • The Kansas Department of Education has developed a Grow Your Own Counselor model with ARP ESSER funding that encourages districts to identify candidates and employ them as student services coordinators while they develop their skills in an approved school counseling graduate program.
     
  • The Nevada Department of Education has allocated $7.5 million to support districts in hiring 100 additional school based mental health professionals. Using ARP ESSER funding, the state is spending $1.7 million to hire a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support coach for every district.
     
  • Plymouth-Canton Community Schools in Michigan hired three full-time high school counseling staff to decrease counselor caseloads with ARP ESSER funding. Counselors are now able to dedicate more time to individual student meetings, attend meetings with assistant principals and deans to review academic progress and other needs of students, and develop a wellness center at each campus.

Community Schools:

  • The New York City Department of Education announced an investment of $10 million to expand the district’s research-based community schools initiative from 266 to 406 sites citywide using ARP ESSER funding. These schools provide integrated student support services to students and the surrounding community, such as mental health care, adult education courses, community violence intervention programs, and nutrition support.

Strengthening the Educator Workforce
The pandemic has taken a toll on the nation’s educators as well as its students. States and districts should support and stabilize the educator workforce and make staffing decisions that will help address students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs. 

  • The Tennessee Department of Education has created a “Grow Your Own” grant with federal funding, including ARP ESSER, that is designed to foster partnerships between educator preparation programs (EPPs) and districts to provide promising and innovative, no-cost pathways to the teaching profession by increasing EPP enrollment and growing the supply of qualified teachers. The program is currently comprised of 65 partnerships between 14 EPPs and 63 districts across the state – enabling over 650 future educators to become a Tennessee teacher for free. $6.5 million has been allocated to this program thus far. Tennessee also pioneered a pathway with the U.S. Department of Labor by establishing the nation’s first registered apprenticeship program for teachers, which will help sustain the state’s Grow Your Own programs and partnerships leveraging federal apprenticeship funding.  

Biden Signs Executive Order Ensuring Responsible Innovation in Digital Assets, Crytpocurrencies

Outlines First Whole-of-Government Strategy to Protect Consumers, Financial Stability, National Security, and Address Climate Risks

President Biden signed an Executive Order outlining the first ever, whole-of-government approach to addressing the risks and harnessing the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology. The Order lays out a national policy for digital assets across six key priorities: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; illicit finance; U.S. leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

Digital assets, including cryptocurrencies, have seen explosive growth in recent years, surpassing a $3 trillion market cap last November and up from $14 billion just five years prior. Surveys suggest that around 16 percent of adult Americans – approximately 40 million people – have invested in, traded, or used cryptocurrencies. Over 100 countries are exploring or piloting Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), a digital form of a country’s sovereign currency.

[My personal belief is that Russian oligarchs, looking for places to stash their billions, had something to do with the run-up in value. The administration stated that the use of cryptocurrency we do not think is a viable workaround to the set of financial sanctions we’ve imposed across the entire Russian economy and, in particular, to its central bank,” but that does not take into account purchases that might have been made before sanctions were imposed, or these new protections. A request for comment was unanswered.]

The White House provided this fact sheet detailing Biden’s whole-of-government strategy to protect consumers, financial stability, national security and address climate risks posted by digital assets: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
The rise in digital assets creates an opportunity to reinforce American leadership in the global financial system and at the technological frontier, but also has substantial implications for consumer protection, financial stability, national security, and climate risk. The United States must maintain technological leadership in this rapidly growing space, supporting innovation while mitigating the risks for consumers, businesses, the broader financial system, and the climate. And, it must play a leading role in international engagement and global governance of digital assets consistent with democratic values and U.S. global competitiveness.
 
That is why President Biden signed an Executive Order outlining the first ever, whole-of-government approach to addressing the risks and harnessing the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology. The Order lays out a national policy for digital assets across six key priorities: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; illicit finance; U.S. leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation.

Specifically, the Executive Order calls for measures to:

  • Protect U.S. Consumers, Investors, and Businesses by directing the Department of the Treasury and other agency partners to assess and develop policy recommendations to address the implications of the growing digital asset sector and changes in financial markets for consumers, investors, businesses, and equitable economic growth. The Order also encourages regulators to ensure sufficient oversight and safeguard against any systemic financial risks posed by digital assets.
     
  • Protect U.S. and Global Financial Stability and Mitigate Systemic Risk by encouraging the Financial Stability Oversight Council to identify and mitigate economy-wide (i.e., systemic) financial risks posed by digital assets and to develop appropriate policy recommendations to address any regulatory gaps.
     
  • Mitigate the Illicit Finance and National Security Risks Posed by the Illicit Use of Digital Assets by directing an unprecedented focus of coordinated action across all relevant U.S. Government agencies to mitigate these risks. It also directs agencies to work with our allies and partners to ensure international frameworks, capabilities, and partnerships are aligned and responsive to risks.
     
  • Promote U.S. Leadership in Technology and Economic Competitiveness to Reinforce U.S. Leadership in the Global Financial System by directing the Department of Commerce to work across the U.S. Government in establishing a framework to drive U.S. competitiveness and leadership in, and leveraging of digital asset technologies. This framework will serve as a foundation for agencies and integrate this as a priority into their policy, research and development, and operational approaches to digital assets.
     
  • Promote Equitable Access to Safe and Affordable Financial Services by affirming the critical need for safe, affordable, and accessible financial services as a U.S. national interest that must inform our approach to digital asset innovation, including disparate impact risk. Such safe access is especially important for communities that have long had insufficient access to financial services.  The Secretary of the Treasury, working with all relevant agencies, will produce a report on the future of money and payment systems, to include implications for economic growth, financial growth and inclusion, national security, and the extent to which technological innovation may influence that future.
     
  • Support Technological Advances and Ensure Responsible Development and Use of Digital Assets by directing the U.S. Government to take concrete steps to study and support technological advances in the responsible development, design, and implementation of digital asset systems while prioritizing privacy, security, combating illicit exploitation, and reducing negative climate impacts.
     
  • Explore a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) by placing urgency on research and development of a potential United States CBDC, should issuance be deemed in the national interest. The Order directs the U.S. Government to assess the technological infrastructure and capacity needs for a potential U.S. CBDC in a manner that protects Americans’ interests. The Order also encourages the Federal Reserve to continue its research, development, and assessment efforts for a U.S. CBDC, including development of a plan for broader U.S. Government action in support of their work. This effort prioritizes U.S. participation in multi-country experimentation, and ensures U.S. leadership internationally to promote CBDC development that is consistent with U.S. priorities and democratic values.

The Administration will continue work across agencies and with Congress to establish policies that guard against risks and guide responsible innovation, with our allies and partners to develop aligned international capabilities that respond to national security risks, and with the private sector to study and support technological advances in digital assets.

White House Warns Businesses to Harden Defenses Against Cyber Attack

“My Administration will continue to use every tool to deter, disrupt, and if necessary, respond to cyberattacks against critical infrastructure. But the Federal Government can’t defend against this threat alone. Most of America’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and critical infrastructure owners and operators must accelerate efforts to lock their digital doors,” President Biden stated. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

The Biden Administration, from its first days, has been warning – and acting – on cybersecurity, when previous administrations just sat back as ransomware and cyberattacks became epidemic and more lethal – threatening water supplies, power grids, even nuclear plants. But the issue of cybersecurity has become elevated and unavoidable because of Russia’s reaction to sanctions for its invasion and war crimes against Ukraine, warranting President Biden and the White House to issue new warnings and mount pre-emptive defenses. (New York  Governor Kathy Hochul already has set up infrastructure to protect New York and cooperate with federal government.)

“This is a critical moment to accelerate our work to improve domestic cybersecurity and bolster our national resilience,” President Biden declared. “  I have previously warned about the potential that Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States, including as a response to the unprecedented economic costs we’ve imposed on Russia alongside our allies and partners. It’s part of Russia’s playbook. Today, my Administration is reiterating those warnings based on evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks.

“From day one, my Administration has worked to strengthen our national cyber defenses, mandating extensive cybersecurity measures for the Federal Government and those critical infrastructure sectors where we have authority to do so, and creating innovative public-private partnerships and initiatives to enhance cybersecurity across all our critical infrastructure. Congress has partnered with us on these efforts — we appreciate that Members of Congress worked across the aisle to require companies to report cyber incidents to the United States Government.

“My Administration will continue to use every tool to deter, disrupt, and if necessary, respond to cyberattacks against critical infrastructure. But the Federal Government can’t defend against this threat alone. Most of America’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and critical infrastructure owners and operators must accelerate efforts to lock their digital doors. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has been actively working with organizations across critical infrastructure to rapidly share information and mitigation guidance to help protect their systems and networks

“If you have not already done so, I urge our private sector partners to harden your cyber defenses immediately by implementing the best practices we have developed together over the last year. You have the power, the capacity, and the responsibility to strengthen the cybersecurity and resilience of the critical services and technologies on which Americans rely. We need everyone to do their part to meet one of the defining threats of our time — your vigilance and urgency today can prevent or mitigate attacks tomorrow.”

FACT SHEET: Act Now to Protect Against Potential Cyberattacks

The Biden-Harris Administration has warned repeatedly about the potential for Russia to engage in malicious cyber activity against the United States in response to the unprecedented economic sanctions we have imposed.  There is now evolving intelligence that Russia may be exploring options for potential cyberattacks.

The Administration has prioritized strengthening cybersecurity defenses to prepare our Nation for threats since day one. President Biden’s Executive Order is modernizing the Federal Government defenses and improving the security of widely-used technology. The President has launched public-private action plans to shore up the cybersecurity of the electricity, pipeline, and water sectors and has directed Departments and Agencies to use all existing government authorities to mandate new cybersecurity and network defense measures. Internationally, the Administration brought together more than 30 allies and partners to cooperate to detect and disrupt ransomware threats, rallied G7 countries to hold accountable nations who harbor ransomware criminals, and taken steps with partners and allies to publicly attribute malicious activity.

We accelerated our work in November of last year as Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated his aggression ahead of his further invasion of Ukraine with extensive briefings and advisories to U.S. businesses regarding potential threats and cybersecurity protections. The U.S. Government will continue our efforts to provide resources and tools to the private sector, including via CISA’s Shields-Up campaign and we will do everything in our power to defend the Nation and respond to cyberattacks. But the reality is that much of the Nation’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and the private sector must act to protect the critical services on which all Americans rely.

We urge companies to execute the following steps with urgency:

  • Mandate the use of multi-factor authentication on your systems to make it harder for attackers to get onto your system;
     
  • Deploy modern security tools on your computers and devices to continuously look for and mitigate threats;
     
  • Check with your cybersecurity professionals to make sure that your systems are patched and protected against all known vulnerabilities, and change passwords across your networks so that previously stolen credentials are useless to malicious actors;
     
  • Back up your data and ensure you have offline backups beyond the reach of malicious actors;
     
  • Run exercises and drill your emergency plans so that you are prepared to respond quickly to minimize the impact of any attack;
     
  • Encrypt your data so it cannot be used if it is stolen;
     
  • Educate your employees to common tactics that attackers will use over email or through websites, and encourage them to report if their computers or phones have shown unusual behavior, such as unusual crashes or operating very slowly; and
     
  • Engage proactively with your local FBI field office or CISA Regional Office to establish relationships in advance of any cyber incidents. Please encourage your IT and Security leadership to visit the websites of CISA and the FBI where they will find technical information and other useful resources.

We also must focus on bolstering America’s cybersecurity over the long term. We encourage technology and software companies to: 

  • Build security into your products from the ground up — “bake it in, don’t bolt it on” — to protect both your intellectual property and your customers’ privacy.
     
  • Develop software only on a system that is highly secure and accessible only to those actually working on a particular project.  This will make it much harder for an intruder to jump from system to system and compromise a product or steal your intellectual property.
     
  • Use modern tools to check for known and potential vulnerabilities. Developers can fix most software vulnerabilities — if they know about them.  There are automated tools that can review code and find most coding errors before software ships, and before a malicious actor takes advantage of them. 
     
  • Software developers are responsible for all code used in their products, including open source code. Most software is built using many different components and libraries, much of which is open source.  Make sure developers know the provenance (i.e., origin) of components they are using and have a “software bill of materials” in case one of those components is later found to have a vulnerability so you can rapidly correct it. 
     
  • Implement the security practices mandated in the President’s Executive Order, Improving our Nation’s Cybersecurity. Pursuant to that EO, all software the U.S. government purchases is now required to meet security standards in how it is built and deployed. We encourage you to follow those practices more broadly.

Biden Signs Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act

President Joe Biden was flanked by women who are the first to hold key roles of Vice President and Speaker of the House. This week, he signed the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, an act he originally authored and has championed ever since. His administration has taken significant actions to improve women’s rights and gender equity, against a backlash from Republican-led states that are passing laws to overturn women’s reproductive rights and civil rights © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This week, President Biden signed into law the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022, bipartisan legislation passed by Congress as part of the Omnibus appropriations package. In remarks at the signing, President Biden reflected on having authored the original VAWA, and during Women’s History Month, when Republican-led states are passing cruel and unconstitutional restrictions on women’s reproductive rights and their rights to self-determination, said:
 
It really wasn’t so long ago this country didn’t want to talk about violence against women, let alone as being a national epidemic, something the government had to address. 
 
     As a society, we literally looked away.  We looked away.  In many places, it wasn’t a crime.  And I don’t recall — I don’t recall how many times I was told in the prelude to writing the legislation that it’s a “family affair.”  “You don’t understand, Biden.  It’s a family affair.”
 
     When I began, along with others, to pursue this legislation to change this — this issue, we were told that we would literally be responsible for the “disintegration” of American families in the major press.  It wasn’t just the wackos; it was in the mainstream press.
 
     And we talked about creating shelters to give survivors a way out because so many don’t have a way out, and their children — by the way, the vast majority of children on the street with their mothers are there because she’s a victim of domestic violence….

This law broke the dam of congressional resistance and cultural resistance.  And it brought this hidden epidemic out of the shadows.  You know, its introduction — it introduced our nation to so many brave survivors who those stories changed the way America saw the issue.  I mean, in the literal sense, it’s hard to believe — even when I go back and think of when — how it started and where it was. 
 
As a practical matter, things began to shift — the legal and social burdens — away from survivors and onto perpetrators and where they belonged.  It made addressing general — excuse me — gender violence a shared priority with a determined, coordinated response.  It created a hotline, as I said, for millions of women who have used the hotline.  And again, I’ll never forget being told the first time — I said, “What did you do?”  She said, “I got behind the drapes and I held the phone.  And I prayed to God — prayed to God — don’t let him hear this.  Pray God.  Pray God.”
 
It supported shelters and rape crisis centers, housing and legal assistance, creating lifesaving options for women and children all across the country.  And it helped train police officers, advocates, prosecutors, judges, court personnel to make the entire justice system fair and more responsive to the needs of survivors. ..

Even in 1994, we knew that there was much more we had to do — you know, that it was only the beginning.  That’s why, because of all of you in this room, every time we’ve reauthorized this law, it’s been improved.  It’s not like we didn’t know we wanted to do these other things in the beginning.  It’s we did as much as we could and keep trying to add to it. 

Broadening from domestic violence to include stalking and sexual assault in 2000.  That was the change made. 
 
Expanding access to services for immigrants and communities of color in 2005.  That was a change. 
 
Restoring jurisdiction of Tribal courts — (applause) — over non-Native domestic violence offenders who abuse women in Indian Country.  We did that in 2013. 
 
Extending protections to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, in 2013. ..

The law kept growing stronger.  It’s not like we didn’t know in 2005 we should be dealing with the things we dealt with in 2013.  It was getting it done. 
 
Each link in the chain that we’re building made a difference — makes a difference. 
 
Yesterday, I signed the Bipartisan Government Funding Bill…And, consequentially, we forged the next link in the chain…

So we established a new civil rights — a new civil rights cause of action for those whose intimate images were shared on the public screen.  How many times have you heard — I’ll bet everybody knows somebody somewhere along the line that in an intimate relationship, what happened was the guy takes a revealing picture of his naked friend, or whatever, in a compromising position, and then literally, in a sense, blackmails or mortifies that person — sends it out, put it online.
 
We’re giving survivors real resources against abuse now.  Ex-partners and stalkers who seek to humiliate and hurt them.
 
We’ve created — you created new programs to help end the backlog of the rape kits.  And those rape kits, by the way, I don’t know — you ought to go to your major cities, those of you in the House and Senate — this group probably has — which I have done.  And this backlog is so significant.  You could solve literally a significant portion of —
 
Look, the only thing I learned that’s worse than — for a woman — worse than a woman who is abused or raped and says, “It’s Charlie who did it,” and no one believes her — him against her.  And when — you can take a look.  If you take a look at those rape kits and you went through them all, you could identify and arrest probably 40, 50 percent of the rapists in America.  They’re all there.  Their DNAs are there.  It’s all in line.  And run it against the whole panoply.  Very few rapists rape only once.
 
So, look, that — you know, there’s a lot that goes unprocessed.  And we have to make sure survivors get compensation, and if there have been delays in their cases — you know, we’ve made improvements in the National Criminal Background Check System to help states investigate and prosecute cases when abuses — when abusers who are barred from purchasing firearms attempt to do so.  That, we’ve done federally.  Quite frankly, this held — that’s one of the things that held up this bill for much too long.  Much too long…

Through the American Rescue Plan, the administration directed $1 billion in supplemental funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services — (applause) — because they’re badly needed.
 
And we’ve worked with local public housing authorities to make sure that survivors trapped in a bad situation can find safe new housing options in public housing.  (Applause.)  Because they don’t have (inaudible) to go.  You.
 
And we also made landmark reforms in military justice to help end the epidemic of sexual violence and harassment in our armed forces — (applause) — fundamentally changing how the military investigates, prosecutes sexual assault, domestic violence, and other related crimes…

Earlier this month, I signed a bar- — bipartisan bill that ends what we know as forced arbitration.  That’s wonderful, isn’t it?  (Applause.)  No, no, but I mean the small print to sign a contract, and the small print says you can’t do anything if your boss, male or female — if you end up getting abused and if you end up doing something — you know, you can’t — you have to do it internally.  No more.  (Applause.)  No more.  Really.
 
And 80 percent of the people who sign those don’t even know what’s in the — in the contract.
 
The mechanism has prevented too many survivors of abuse and harassment in the workplace from having the choice to get their day in court. 
 
Look, these are just a few of the steps you’ve all taken and how much you’ve improved this legislation.  But as everyone in this room knows, this work is not going to stop.  It never stops.
 
Today, one year since a gunman killed eight people in Atlanta, six of whom were women of Asian descent, these horrific murders are a reminder that we still have work to do to put an end to misogyny and racism and all forms of hate we have.
 
We’re never going to get it all done, but we can’t ever stop trying.  As long as there are women in this country and around the world who live in fear of violence, there’s more we have to do to fulfill this sacred commitment.  No one — no one, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should experience abuse.  Period.  And if they do, they should have the services and support they need to get through it.  And we’re not going to rest.
 
But in the meantime, all of you should be enormously proud of what you’ve accomplished.  This reauthorization is testament to the power of your voices and your tireless dedication to changing things for the better.
 
  

Fact Sheet:  Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

 
One of the driving forces of President Biden’s career has been fighting back against abuses of power.  That force led him to write and champion the groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as a U.S. Senator, landmark legislation that first passed in 1994.  In the nearly three decades since, he has worked with Members of Congress from both parties to pass legislation to renew and strengthen VAWA three times: in 2000, 2005, and 2013.  Each time, he worked to expand access to safety and support for all survivors and increase prevention efforts.  Preventing and responding to gender-based violence wherever it occurs, and in all of its forms, has remained a cornerstone of the President’s career in public service—from VAWA reauthorization to a national campaign to combat campus sexual assault to reforms to address sexual assault and harassment in the military.  
 
While incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault have declined significantly since VAWA first took effect—and efforts to increase access to services, healing, and justice for survivors have improved with each iteration of VAWA—much work remains. 
 
The 2022 reauthorization of VAWA strengthens this landmark law, including by:
 

  • Reauthorizing all current VAWA grant programs until 2027 and, in many cases, increasing authorization levels. 
     
  • Expanding special criminal jurisdiction of Tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands; and supporting the development of a pilot project to enhance access to safety for survivors in Alaska Native villages.
     
  • Increasing services and support for survivors from underserved and marginalized communities—including for LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking; funding survivor-centered, community-based restorative practice services; and increasing support for culturally specific services and services in rural communities.
     
  • Establishing a federal civil cause of action for individuals whose intimate visual images are disclosed without their consent, allowing a victim to recover damages and legal fees; creating a new National Resource Center on Cybercrimes Against Individuals; and supporting State, Tribal, and local government efforts to prevent and prosecute cybercrimes, including cyberstalking and the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images.
     
  • Improving prevention and response to sexual violence, including through increased support for the Rape Prevention and Education Program and Sexual Assault Services Program; expansion of prevention education for students in institutions of higher education; and enactment of the Fairness for Rape Kit Backlog Survivors Act, which requires state victim compensation programs to allow sexual assault survivors to file for compensation without being unfairly penalized due to rape kit backlogs.
     
  • Strengthening the application of evidence-based practices by law enforcement in responding to gender-based violence, including by promoting the use of trauma-informed, victim-centered training and improving homicide reduction initiatives.
     
  • Improving the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault, including through enhanced training for sexual assault forensic examiners.
     
  • Updating the SMART Prevention Program and the CHOOSE Youth Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to domestic violence, and engage men in preventing violence.
     
  • Enacting the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denial Notification Act to help state law enforcement investigate and prosecute cases against individuals legally prohibited from purchasing firearms who try to do so.

 
Over the past year, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken significant steps to prevent and respond to gender-based violence at home and abroad:
 

  • Increased funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services.  Directed $1 billion in supplemental funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) in response to the pandemic, including $49.5 million for culturally-specific community-based organizations that help survivors from historically marginalized communities access the services and support they need. The ARP also provided approximately 70,000 housing choice vouchers to local Public Housing Authorities in order to assist individuals and families, including those who are fleeing, or attempting to flee, from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. 
     
  • Reformed the military justice system to address sexual assault, harassment, and related crimes. Signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which included sweeping reforms to the military justice system—the most significant since the Uniform Code of Military Justice was established more than seventy years ago—and implemented the President’s campaign promise to address the scourge of sexual assault in our armed forces. In conjunction with the President’s Executive Order on military justice reform, this bipartisan, historic law adopts core recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault, as called for by President Biden, and fundamentally shifts how the military prosecutes and investigates sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and other serious crimes, and increases prevention initiatives and support for survivors. 
     
  • Ended forced arbitration for sexual assault and harassment.  Signed into law the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021—bipartisan legislation that empowers survivors of sexual assault and harassment by giving them a choice to go to court instead of being forced into arbitration.
     
  • Directed action to protect students from campus sexual assault.  Directed the Department of Education to review Title IX regulations and other agency actions to ensure that all students have an educational environment that is free from discrimination on the basis of sex.  The Department is developing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking currently under review that will address the need for protection for students who experience campus sexual assault while treating all students fairly.
     
  • Increased resources for survivors of crime, including gender-based violence.  Signed into law the Amendments to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which passed Congress with strong bipartisan support and expands the allocation of resources for the Crime Victims Fund. This has already resulted in an increase of hundreds of millions of dollars of non-taxpayer funding for essential and lifesaving services to crime victims around the country, including survivors of gender-based violence.
     
  • Led multinational effort to address online harassment and abuse.  Launched the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse during the 2022 meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, together with the governments of Denmark, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. This multinational initiative will align countries, international organizations, and civil society to better prioritize, understand, and address the growing scourge of technology-facilitated gender-based violence.
     
  • Prioritized the crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People, including gender-based violence.  Issued an executive order directing the Departments of Justice, Interior, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to create a strategy to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans and to address the epidemic of missing or murdered Indigenous peoples, which disproportionately affect Native women, girls, and LGBTQI+ individuals; the Department of the Interior established the Missing and Murdered Unit to pursue justice for missing or murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.
     
  • Strengthened regional leadership on violence against Indigenous women and girls.  Re-launched the United States’ leadership and participation in the Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls with the Governments of Mexico and Canada. The White House will host the Fourth Convening of the Trilateral Working Group this summer to improve and reaffirm our respective national and regional commitments to prevent and respond to violence against Indigenous women and girls through increased access to justice and prevention services.

 
On International Women’s Day in 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order creating the White House Gender Policy Council and calling for the development of the first-ever government-wide National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, as well as an update to the 2016 United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally. These strategies will provide a roadmap to guide the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government effort to end gender-based violence—and in so doing, create a society where survivors are supported and all people can live free from abuse.

Biden Administration Releases National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

The Biden Administration released an update to its National Strategy – the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan – which will help move America forward safely. This plan lays out the roadmap to help fight COVID-19 in the future as America moves from crisis to a time when COVID-19 does not disrupt our daily lives and is something we prevent, protect against, and treat. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House released an Executive Summary of the Biden Administration’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan:

President Biden came into office facing the worst public health crisis in more than a century. COVID-19 was wreaking havoc on our country – closing our businesses, keeping our kids out of school, and forcing us into isolation and lockdown as our first line of defense. Americans lacked the tools we needed to protect ourselves and our families. 

Our country needed an emergency response that was worthy of the crisis we faced. A response that would leave no stone unturned, that would leverage the full force of the federal government, the innovation of the private sector, and the determination of the American people. On President Biden’s first full day in office, he released the first-ever comprehensive National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response. This strategy focused on building a response to this virus that would give people the tools they needed to protect themselves, reopen our schools, and get our economy moving again.

The U.S. government has spent the last year executing on that strategy. To get this country moving in the right direction, we worked hand-in-hand with doctors, nurses, businesses, unions, community organizations, governors, mayors, and citizens across every state, Tribe, and territory.

As a result, today, 215 million people are fully vaccinated and two-thirds of eligible adults have gotten their booster shot. We have multiple treatment options, including life-saving pills, and continue to fill the nation’s medicine cabinet. Testing capacity has dramatically increased and we have plenty of free, high-quality masks available to the American people. Schools are open and the economy is experiencing the fastest economic growth in four decades.

America must maintain the tools – vaccines, boosters, treatments, tests, and masks – to protect against COVID-19 and dramatically decrease the risk of the most severe outcomes. We must be prepared to respond to a new variant quickly and keep our schools and businesses open.

Today, the U.S. government is releasing an update to our National Strategy – the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan – which will help move America forward safely. This plan lays out the roadmap to help us fight COVID-19 in the future as we move America from crisis to a time when COVID-19 does not disrupt our daily lives and is something we prevent, protect against, and treat. We look to a future when Americans no longer fear lockdowns, shutdowns, and our kids not going to school. It’s a future when the country relies on the powerful layers of protection we have built and invests in the next generation of tools to stay ahead of this virus.

The National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan is clear-eyed that new variants might arise. And with the support of Congress, it outlines a plan to ensure that vaccines, tests, and treatments can be updated and deployed quickly to protect against a new variant.

Make no mistake, President Biden will not accept just “living with COVID” any more than we accept “living with” cancer, Alzheimer’s, or AIDS.  We will continue our work to stop the spread of the virus, blunt its impact on those who get infected, and deploy new treatments to dramatically reduce the occurrence of severe COVID-19 disease and deaths. 

We are not going to just “live with COVID.”  Because of our work, we are no longer going to let COVID-19 dictate how we live.

To fully execute on this plan requires Congress doing its part to invest in tools that work. Additional funding will be necessary to provide critical treatments like pills and monoclonal antibodies; to make further investments to shore up America’s testing supply; to provide resources that guard against and prepare for new variants; and to continue to fight this virus abroad. Without these investments, many of the activities described below cannot be initiated or sustained.

America has made strong progress in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress providing the resources needed to execute this plan will be critical to getting America back to our normal routines while protecting people from COVID-19, preparing for new variants, and preventing economic and educational shutdowns. Because of our work over the last two years, we can begin to move forward safely.

The President’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan focuses on four key goals:

  1. Protect against and treat COVID-19
  1. Prepare for new variants
  1. Prevent economic and educational shutdowns 
  1. Continue to lead the effort to vaccinate the world and save lives

1: Protect against and treat COVID-19

The United States has experienced five waves of the pandemic since 2020, including three in the past year that were driven by new variants. America experienced a wave of COVID-19 cases driven by the Alpha variant in early Spring 2021 – a time when the U.S. vaccination program was administering a record number of vaccines every day. The Delta variant, which was more than twice as contagious as the original coronavirus strain, then swept across the country starting in Summer 2021, beginning in the South and spreading to the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions.

Omicron represented another step in the virus’s evolution, and has been one of the most contagious viruses in history, causing record numbers of infections around the world over the past three months. However, because of both lower severity of the Omicron variant and a stronger level of population immunity from vaccinations, Omicron has caused relatively fewer cases of severe COVID-19. Compared to prior waves of COVID-19 in the United States, the Omicron wave has had a lower proportion of cases resulting in hospitalization or death.

America has weathered the current Omicron wave with minimal disruption – schools and businesses largely remained open. As the country emerges from the Omicron wave,our path forward relies on maintaining and continually enhancing the numerous tools we now have to protect ourselves and our loved ones – from vaccines, to tests, to treatments, to masks, and more.

In January 2021, Americans had very few tools to protect against COVID-19, and the tools we did have were in limited supply. Over the last year, together, with states, localities, and public and private partners, the Administration has mobilized an unprecedented, whole-of-society effort to give Americans the tools they need to protect themselves.

The Administration has put vaccines at the center of our COVID-19 response because vaccines are the best tool we have to prevent hospitalization and death. We stood up the largest free vaccination program in our country’s history – mobilizing 90,000 vaccination locations, standing up dozens of federally-run mass vaccination sites with the ability to administer more than a combined 125,000 shots a day, and deploying over 9,000 federal personnel to support vaccinations nationwide – including over 5,000 active duty troops.

As a result, today, the vast majority of Americans have the protection of a vaccine – with 215 million Americans fully vaccinated, and an estimated two-thirds of eligible adults having received their booster shot. Vaccinated and boosted people are 41 times less like to die of COVID-19 than unvaccinated individuals. And America’s unprecedented vaccination campaign has saved lives: a December 2021 estimate suggested that vaccines saved over 1 million American lives and successfully prevented over 10 million hospitalizations.

The Administration has also expedited the development, manufacturing, and procurement of COVID-19 treatments, building a diverse medicine cabinet filled with more treatments now than at any point in the pandemic.  Today about 4 million treatment courses are available to Americans, with 1 million additional courses of the Pfizer antiviral available in March, and another 2.5 million additional courses of the Pfizer antiviral available in April. In total, we have secured 20 million courses of Pfizer’s life-saving antiviral pills, which have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 89%.

The nation’s testing supply has increased dramatically. We now have free testing sites at 21,500 locations around the country. In January 2021, there were no rapid, at-home tests on the market available to Americans; during January 2022, there were more than 480 million at-home tests available to Americans on top of all other testing options. And we stood up COVIDtests.gov so Americans could order tests that shipped directly to their homes — for free. Private insurance and Medicaid now cover rapid at-home tests for free, and Medicare will fully cover these at-home tests starting this spring.

And the U.S. government has successfully put equity at the heart of a nationwide public health response. Hispanic, Black, and Asian adults are now vaccinated at the same rates as White adults. This is the result of an all-of-society effort that got America to where it is today: employers who offered paid time off for their employees; child care providers who offered drop-in services for caregivers to get vaccinated; public transit authorities and ride-sharing companies that provided free rides to vaccination sites; churches, civic organizations, barbershops, and beauty salons, who opened their doors to be trusted spaces for vaccinations; and the families who made vaccination a family affair. 

The path forward in the fight against COVID-19 is clear: we must maintain and continually enhance the tools we have to protect against and treat COVID-19. The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to ensure that we have the resources to do just that.

Because we have these tools, we can begin to get back to our more normal routines safely and the use of public health mitigation measures like masking can be less frequent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its framework for recommendations on preventive measures like masking, so masks are recommended when and where they matter the most and Americans will be wearing masks less often.

Make no mistake, as America moves forward we will leave no one behind. Equity will remain at the very center of our path forward in the fight against COVID-19. And we will be there to support Americans with the long-term impacts of COVID-19, including people experiencing Long COVID or mental and behavioral health challenges; as well as families suffering from the tragedy of losing someone they loved.

The Administration will work with Congress to secure the necessary funding to:

  • Launch an effort to vaccinate America’s youngest children as soon as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes and the CDC recommends a vaccine for that age group. If the FDA authorizes and the CDC recommends a vaccine for children under five years of age, the United States is prepared to immediately distribute vaccines through a network of thousands of pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals, health centers, and local sites, so that vaccines are made available conveniently to families across the country.
  • Ensure that Americans – of all ages – can get the protection of an effective vaccine. The Administration will continue to ensure that all Americans have ready access to free and safe vaccines, because vaccines are the most effective defense against COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will also continue to monitor the efficacy and durability of currently authorized vaccines against current and future variants and make recommendations to optimize protection.
  • Increase American manufacturing capacity to reliably produce an additional 1 billion vaccine doses per year – three times the U.S. population – and accelerate research and development of a single COVID vaccine that protects against SARS-CoV-2 and all its variants, as well as previous SARS-origin viruses. To ensure that people stay protected, the U.S. government will continue to use advance purchasing agreements when appropriate and work closely with vaccine manufacturers to produce shots quickly and safely. Fully supporting this effort to scale up domestic vaccine manufacturing will require additional resources from Congress. Additionally, we will maintain a network of tens of thousands of sites to deliver shots to the American people at any time this effort is needed.
  • Continue vaccination outreach and education efforts and combat misinformation and disinformation. HHS will continue its work to equip Americans with the tools to identify misinformation and to invest in longer-term efforts to build resilience against health misinformation.
  • Update the framework for recommendations on preventive measures like masking to reflect the current state of the disease. Masks have been a critical tool to protect ourselves, but they have a time and a place. With a broad range of other protective tools in place, the CDC has announced an updated framework for guidance on preventive measures like masking – moving away from simply basing broad recommendations on case counts and test positivity, and instead encouraging prevention measures like masking when they are most needed to minimize severe disease and to keep our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed in times when COVID-19 is surging. By monitoring community risk, masks can be worn when the risk of severe disease in the community is high and taken off when the risk is low. Overall, it means Americans will be wearing masks less because so many people are protected from severe disease.
  • Launch a one-stop-shop website that allows Americans to easily find public health guidance based on the COVID-19 risk in their local area and access tools to protect themselves. The Administration will launch a website where Americans can find the level of COVID-19 risk in their community and specific guidance based on that risk. The site will also point people to the tools we now have to fight COVID-19, such as locating a vaccination site in their neighborhood or finding a free high-quality mask at a local grocery store or pharmacy.  
  • Sustain and increase American manufacturing of COVID-19 tests, so we can continue to have a robust supply of tests. The Administration will continue to use the expedited authorization process to help test manufacturers get tests to market quickly; maintain America’s network of thousands of free testing sites; use the Defense Production Act (DPA) and other authorities, where warranted, to increase manufacturing capacity; and invest in innovation to make tests less expensive. These continued investments in testing will require additional funding from Congress.
  • Prioritize protections for immunocompromised people and take new actions to protect individuals with disabilities and older adults. The Administration will continue to provide strong support for the immunocompromised, including providing prioritized access to treatments and preventive interventions – pending additional funding from Congress – as well as ensuring access to boosters. The Administration will also increase equitable access to testing and COVID-19 mitigation resources for people with disabilities and older adults, and engage industry to accelerate research and development of accessible self-tests. Securing sufficient preventive treatments for people who are immunocompromised will require additional funding from Congress.
  • Help Americans with the long-term impacts of COVID-19. In recognition of the wide-reaching long-term impacts of COVID-19 on our society, the President will direct the U.S. government toaccelerate efforts to detect, prevent, and treat Long COVID; coordinate efforts to provide support to families who have experienced the COVID-related loss of a loved one; and attend to the mental health and well-being of our communities. The Administration will also propose to make new investments in health care workers to support their mental health and well-being.
  • Ensure equitable access to COVID-19 health care and public health resources. The Administration will continue to prioritize providing equitable access to COVID-19 health care and public health resources – including personal protective equipment (PPE), tests, treatments, masks, and vaccines; and address COVID-related health inequities among communities defined by race, ethnicity, geography, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other factors. The U.S. government will support dedicated resources for local community-based organizations, community health centers, and rural health clinics.

2. Prepare for new variants

As we work to keep ourselves protected against COVID-19, America must remain prepared for any new variant that may come our way. To do so, the Administration has developed a comprehensive plan for how we monitor this virus to stay ahead of it, adapt our tools swiftly to combat a new variant, and deploy emergency resources to help communities.

Before January 2021, the federal government had insufficient data and sequencing capabilities and was ill-equipped to respond to new variants. Electronic case reporting was in place for only a handful of states in 2020 and the country could sequence only 3,000 viral isolates per week. America had no plan for responding to a new variant or standing up comprehensive efforts to respond to a surge in COVID-19 cases.  

The Administration has enhanced our collection, production, and analysis of data, and expanded electronic case reporting to all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and thousands of health care facilities. The CDC now tracks a range of key COVID-19 response metrics including cases, tests, vaccinations, and hospital admissions in real-time. Additionally, the CDC launched – and is continually enhancing – the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) to track the presence of SARS-COV-2 in wastewater samples collected across the country. And America has established a world-class sequencing operation, sequencing up to 90,000 isolates a week. The CDC’s sequencing efforts can now reliably detect variants that account for as little as 0.1% of all COVID-19 cases circulating in the United States. And when new variants are identified, the federal government has a network of researchers – federal, academic, and commercial – who are able to study the sequence and assess mutations rapidly, allowing the government to respond quickly to concerning variants. 

The Administration has also successfully built a robust emergency response infrastructure. Our surge response – led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and HHS – developed capabilities to stand up over 100 federal mass vaccination sites and federal surge testing sites; distribute millions of critical supplies; and deploy thousands of federal clinical and non-clinical personnel to support states, Tribes, and territories. Since July 2021, the federal government has deployed over 4,000 military and non-military personnel including doctors, nurses, and paramedics; sent over 3,400 ventilators, ambulances, and other critical supplies; and shipped over 115 million pieces of PPE. And over the last year, FEMA has invested $300 million in state hospital preparedness to expand hospital capacity in 38 states.

Moving forward, the Administration will maintain our proven data, sequencing, variant response, and surge response capabilities. The CDC will continue to improve COVID-19 data collection, reporting, and analysis so America is better informed and ready to respond to new variants. And if new variants emerge, the federal government will leverage established playbooks to assess a new variant’s impact on our vaccines, treatments, and tests, and rapidly deploy the tools, personnel, and resources Americans need. America will also retain a significant stockpile of tools to combat COVID-19 that remain ready for deployment.

The Administration will work with Congress to secure the necessary funding to:

  • Improve our data collection, sequencing, and wastewater surveillance capabilities to immediately identify and detect new and emerging variants; and strengthen pandemic preparedness. The U.S. government willcontinue improvements to COVID-19 disease and vaccination data collection, wastewater surveillance, and virus sequencing capacity so we are better prepared to respond rapidly to emerging threats. This includes strengthening data infrastructure and interoperability so that more jurisdictions can link case surveillance and hospital data to vaccine data. The Administration is also leveraging COVID-19 response capabilities into stronger pandemic preparedness.
  • Support new FDA processes to expedite regulatory review of variant-specific versions of vaccines and treatments, so Americans can get them quickly if needed. FDA has developed new approaches to accelerate the authorization of a vaccine or treatment that targets any new variant while maintaining strict and longstanding practices to ensure the safety and efficacy of the products.
  • Leverage a proven COVID-19 Surge Response Playbook. The Administration has developed acomprehensive emergency response COVID-19 surge playbook to stand up mass vaccination and testing sites, expedite deployments of surge medical and emergency personnel, expand hospitals and emergency facilities, and provide emergency supplies.
  • Add at-home tests, antiviral pills, and masks for the general population to America’s stockpile for the first time. America will stockpile new categories of supplies including at-home tests, antiviral pills, and masks for the general population for the first time. The Administration will also maintain a fully stocked Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) with an inventory of masks, ventilators, gloves, gowns, and hospital equipment. The U.S. government will be ready to deploy supplies to the American people to ensure adequate supply in times of surges, COVID-19 outbreaks, or new variants.
  • The U.S. government has established a permanent logistics and operational hub at HHS to ensure accelerated development, production, and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The Administration has transitionedan emergency logistics and operational organization into a permanent agency structure at HHS, which has allowed the Administration to build on its progress, retain expertise and skills, and continue providing the necessary tools to the American people during this pandemic and for any future disease outbreaks.

3. Prevent economic and educational shutdowns

Our path forward relies on giving schools and businesses the tools they need to prevent economic and educational shutdowns, so that our students can remain safe in school, our workers can be safe at work, and our economy can continue to grow.

At the beginning of last year, America was experiencing widespread school and business shutdowns: only 46% of K-12 schools were open for in-person learning, and millions of businesses had closed and tens of millions of Americans had lost their jobs in 2020. Throughout the last year, the Administration worked to provide schools, child care providers, and businesses with the necessary tools and resources to safely open, while keeping our children, students, and workers safe.

The Administration provided a historic investment of $130 billion from the American Rescue Plan to reopen schools by improving school ventilation, accessing tests, and hiring more teachers, nurses, and staff. To protect workers and keep our businesses open, the Administration launched the largest vaccination campaign in history – working hand-in-hand with the business community; and requiring vaccinations where we could, including for federal workers.

Today, about 99% of K-12 schools are open for in-person learning. And since President Biden took office, there has been historic job growth. The U.S. economy created 6.6 million jobs in 2021 – the strongest job growth of any year on record – and grew 5.7% in 2021, the fastest pace of economic growth in nearly four decades. The U.S. was also the first major economy to exceed its pre-pandemic economic output.

The path forward in the fight against COVID-19 is clear: schools, workers, and workplaces have resources and guidance to prevent shutdowns.

The Administration will work with Congress to secure the necessary funding to:

  • Give schools and businesses guidance, tests, and supplies to stay open, including tools to improve ventilation and air filtration. The U.S. government will also provide a Clean Air in Buildings Checklist that all buildings can use to improve indoor ventilation and air filtration and will encourage uptake of ventilation improvements. The Administration will also provide technical assistance that encourages schools, public buildings, and state, local, and Tribal governments to make ventilation improvements and upgrades using American Rescue Plan funds.
  • Update guidance for employers to ensure safer workplaces. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will update workplace guidance to better equip employers with the tools they need to ensure safe workplaces, including guidance on how employers can continue to support increased vaccination and boosting of their employees; support workers such as people who are immunocompromised who choose to wear high-quality masks; limit workplace-based infections; and enhance ventilation.
  • Engage early care and education providers to help them remain safely open and help parents return to work with peace of mind. Early care and education providers, including child care centers, family child care providers, pre-K and more, have been essential in our fight against COVID-19. The Administration invested $40 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to states, territories, and Tribes to help child care providers and Head Start grantees keep their doors open and provide safe care that is crucial for parents getting back to work. Building on this funding, the Administration will continue to engage the community of early care and education providers to ensure they have tools and support to stay safely open and to continue supporting our families.
  • With the vast majority of federal workers at their workplaces, substantially expand levels of services at public-facing federal offices (like local Social Security offices). COVID-19 no longer needs to dictate how we work.Federal agencies will lead by example, increasing the hours public-facing federal offices are open for in-person appointments and in-person interactions in the month of April.

4. Continue to lead the effort to vaccinate the world and save lives

Fighting this virus abroad is key to America’s effort to protect people and stay ahead of new variants. To do so, we will continue to lead in providing vaccines to the world, helping to get those vaccines into arms, and deploying emergency supplies to countries experiencing surges in COVID-19. We will also continue to advance sustainable capacity and financing for health security to fight COVID-19 variants.

The President committed that the United States would be the world’s arsenal for vaccines – both because it’s the right thing to do and in our collective interest. And America is delivering on that commitment. The United States stands alone in procuring 1 billion vaccines for the sole purpose of donating them. And overall, the Administration has committed to donating 1.2 billion doses to other countries – for free, with zero strings attached, which represents the largest commitment of any single country or group of countries in the world. As of today, the U.S. government has delivered over 475 million free doses to 112 countries around the world – four times the number of free doses shared with the world than any other country.

In addition, the U.S. government has delivered life-saving resources like oxygen, treatments, PPE, and other essential supplies worth more than $1 billion to countries experiencing outbreaks. U.S. government public health experts from the CDC, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of State (State), HHS and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other entities are working side-by-side with on-the-ground providers, providing technical assistance in vaccine program implementation, care provision, and outbreak investigation. We have increased the world’s capacity to manufacture vaccines and have fostered an enabling environment for innovation, including by spurring African manufacturing.

Over the last year, the Biden Administration pioneered the model to donate and deliver surplus vaccines to the rest of the world. America was the first country to announce a purchase of doses solely for donation to other countries; the first country to give up our place in line for vaccines – allowing the African Union to immediately start receiving up to 110 million doses of Moderna at a reduced rate negotiated by the United States; and the first country to negotiate a deal to send vaccines directly to humanitarian settings and conflict zones to vaccinate displaced persons.

The path forward in the pandemic will require doubling down on our commitment to help vaccinate the globe and to save lives by making tests, treatments, and PPE widely available.

The Administration will work with Congress to secure the necessary funding to:

  • Leverage the vaccine donation model America pioneered to deliver the 1.2 billion doses we committed to donate to the rest of the world. America will continue todeliver the 1.2 billion doses we committed to donate to countries in need, continuing to leverage the partnerships the U.S. government built to donate and deliver vaccines to the rest of the world.
  • Increase efforts to get shots in arms around the world. The U.S. government will increase investment in the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access (Global VAX), an ambitious global vaccination initiative to get doses into arms by working with partner countries to more quickly implement their plans. This includes supporting efforts such as jumpstarting communications campaigns, providing and supporting vaccinators on the front lines, purchasing cold chain supplies and syringes, paying for shipping and logistics to expedite vaccine delivery to hard-to-reach areas, ensuring people at high risk of hospitalization and deaths like the elderly and immunocompromised are vaccinated, and building vaccine confidence on the ground. Expanded global shots-in-arms efforts will require additional funding from Congress.
  • Save lives by solving the oxygen crisis and making emergency supplies widely available. The U.S. government will make oxygen and PPE available; enhance testing; provide treatments; strengthen global health systems to fight COVID-19; protect health workers from COVID-19 and essential health services from COVID-19 disruptions; improve detection, monitoring and mitigation of new COVID-19 variants; and increase regional and local manufacturing of countermeasures. These continued investments will require additional funding from Congress.
  • Continue global leadership on the COVID-19 response and build better health security for the future. The U.S. government will continue to work to build better capacity to fight COVID-19, manage future variants, and advance health security and preparedness for future pandemics. America is committed to establishing a new health security financial intermediary fund at the World Bank in 2022, and we call on all countries and public and private organizations to commit to urgent action to assist in the global COVID-19 response.

White House Details Consequences if Congress Fails to Act on Funding for Efforts to Combat COVID-19

President Biden’s public health actions to stem the coronavirus pandemic and protect people from the worst impacts – through mass testing, vaccinations and treatment programs – which have saved a million lives is now in jeopardy if Congress does not provide new funding © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House detailed the consequences of Congress failing to fund efforts to combat COVID-19. Republicans have continually politicized what is a public health crisis, prolonging the epidemic and exacerbating the worst consequences – on health, life, hospitals and medical workers as well as the economy. Now Republicans are even promising to revoke the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) if they take control of Congress, as they had tried over 60 times before. It is as if they are prolonging the misery in order to have something to attack President Joe Biden and Democrats, when Biden’s historic efforts to test, vaccinate and treat the country (free), have saved a million lives. Now the country is first beginning to address the effects of long-COVID that will affect untold millions.

In a press call, a senior administration official stated,Our scientific and medical experts have been clear that in the next couple of months we could see COVID cases increase here in the U.S., just as we’re seeing cases rising abroad right now. That’s why we remain laser-focused on fighting COVID and preparing for the future.
 
The President has laid out a comprehensive National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to continue the progress we’ve made and to ensure we keep the country moving forward safely.
 
We asked for immediate funding needed to start to implement that plan.
 
In fact, for months, we’ve made clear to Congress, on a bipartisan basis, that the funding for tests, treatments, and vaccines was drying up and that additional funds would be needed.
 
In January, we notified the Hill that funding would be needed after the Omicron surge.  In February, we briefed appropriators and authorizers about the status of funds and the consequences if there were no additional funds.
 
We sent a formal request of $22.5 billion to the Hill, again being clear of what we could not do without more funding.
 
The President called for additional funding in his State of the Union address; outlined in a 96-page plan, made clear that more funding is needed. 
 
And our team has held more than two dozen calls and meetings with members of Congress about this emergency funding request. 
 
We have been clear: We hoped Congress would provide these resources, as lawmakers have done multiple times on a bipartisan basis under the prior administration.
 
Further inaction will set us back; leave us unprepared — less prepared; and cost us more lives.
 
We need Congress to provide the $22.5 billion in emergency immediate funding.
 
Now, let me walk through some of the immediate consequences of a lack of funding.
 
First, on vaccines: Without additional funding, we do not have the adequate resources to purchase enough booster shots for all Americans if an additional shot is needed.
 
Keep in mind, when Congress passed the supplemental bill in December of 2020 and the American Rescue Plan, the mRNA vaccines were envisioned as a two-shot vaccine.  We’ve now administered nearly 100 million booster shots, and four shots are now recommended and available for immunocompromised people.
 
To ensure enough fourth doses for all Americans or a variant-specific vaccine should we ever need them, we must have funding in hand.
 
Vaccines are our most effective tool.  We cannot be caught without the ability to move quickly to get more of the most effective vaccines available as soon as we are able.
 
Next, on treatments: To date, we have shipped over 7 million courses of treatments to the American people.  And in many cases, we have sent federal medical personnel to states to help administer those treatments.  When Omicron hit, the federal government stepped in to ramp up delivery of the last remaining treatment that worked.
 
These efforts have saved lives in every state in the country.
 
We have planned — we had planned to purchase additional monoclonals as soon as next week.  Without additional funding, we are cancelling those plans.  And as we will make clear to governors later this morning, we also need to cut the number of monoclonal antibody treatments we send to states by 30 percent starting next week.
 
Even with these cuts, we anticipate that our supply of monoclonal antibody treatments will run out as soon as late May.
 
Next, on the preventative treatments for immunocompromised Americans: We have purchased 1.7 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Evusheld — all that they could produce to date.
 
AstraZeneca recently told us that they will be — they will have additional supply that will be available for delivery starting in September.  These are doses we had planned to purchase as soon as the end of March.
 
Without more funding, the federal government will now be forced to scale back on that purchase.  So, we’ll likely run out of treatments for our most vulnerable Americans by the end of the year, if not sooner.
 
The bottom line on treatments is this: Without additional funding soon, thousands of patients could lose access to treatments, and these companies will have little incentive to continue investing in the development and manufacturing of these treatments.
 
Next, on the uninsured fund: [The Administration] notified Congress in February that this fund that reimburses doctors and other medical providers for caring for uninsured individuals was running out of money and would have to stop taking new claims in March.
 
Unfortunately, we’re now having to take that action.
 
HHS will begin to scale back this program starting next week and end it completely in early April.
 
This means doctors, nurses, pharmacists, labs, and other healthcare providers will no longer be reimbursed for tests, treatments, and vaccinations for people without health insurance.
 
And finally, in addition to all of these impacts to our domestic response, the lack of funding greatly impacts our global response.
 
Without more funding, USAID and our interagency partners will have to cut short efforts to turn vaccines into vaccinations around the world.
 
In fact, the administration won’t be able to extend surge support to over 20 additional under-vaccinated countries that will need intensive support this year to get shots in arms.
 
This will devastate our ability to ensure these countries can effectively deploy safe and effective vaccines.  And leaving large unvaccinated populations worldwide will increase the risk of new deadly emerging — of variants emerging that could evade our current vaccines and treatments. 
 
Without additional funding, USAID will also be unable to provide lifesaving supplies, tests, therapeutics, oxygen, and other humanitarian aid to countries still struggling to manage a continued COVID disease burden.
 
Here is the White House fact sheet:

The U.S. has made tremendous progress in our fight against COVID-19. Over the past 14 months, the Biden Administration has made vital investments – using resources Congress provided on a bipartisan basis – to make sure the American people have free and widely available access to lifesaving tools: vaccines, booster shots, treatments, tests, and high-quality masks. As we enter a new moment in the pandemic, Congress has not provided us with the funding we need to continue the COVID-19 response and minimize the pandemic’s impact to the Nation and our economy. With cases rising abroad, scientific and medical experts have been clear that in the next couple of months there could be increasing cases of COVID-19 here in the U.S as well. As the Administration has warned, failure to fund these efforts now will have severe consequences as we will not be equipped to deal with a future surge. Waiting to provide funding once we’re in a surge will be too late. 
 
Without funding, the United States will not have enough additional boosters or variant specific vaccines, if needed, for all Americans. The federal government is unable to purchase additional life-saving monoclonal antibody treatments and will run out of supply to send to states as soon as late May. The federal government cannot purchase sufficient quantities of treatments for immunocompromised individuals. And, the federal government will be unable to sustain the testing capacity we built over the last 14 months, as we head into the second half of the year.
 
Earlier this month, President Biden laid out a comprehensive plan to ensure that the country can continue to move forward safely and remain prepared to fight new variants and future surges of the virus. And the Administration has been clear that we need Congress to provide additional resources, including $22.5 billion in immediate emergency funding. Inaction will set us back in this fight, leave us less prepared, and cost us more lives. 
 
Consequences of lack of critical funding include:

  • Inability to Secure Sufficient Booster Doses and Variant Specific Vaccines, If Needed: The federal government does not have adequate resources to purchase enough booster vaccine doses for all Americans, if additional doses are needed. The shortages will be even more acute if we need a variant-specific booster vaccine, since we will not have any existing supply.
  • Providers No Longer Able to Submit Claims for Testing, Treating, and Vaccinating the Uninsured:  The fund that reimburses doctors and other medical providers for caring for uninsured individuals will start to be scaled back this month and end completely in early April.   Specifically, one week from today – March 22 — the Uninsured Program will stop accepting new claims for testing and treatment due to lack of sufficient funds. Providers will no longer be able to submit claims for providing these services to uninsured individuals, forcing providers to either absorb the cost or turn away people who are uninsured, increasing the disparity in access to critically needed health care and putting additional burdens on safety net providers. Three weeks from today—April 5—the Uninsured Program will also stop accepting vaccination claims due to a lack of sufficient funds.  
  • Ending the Purchase of Monoclonal Antibody Treatments, Scaling Back State/Territory Allocations: The federal government has no more funding f0r additional monoclonals, including a planned order for March 25. To date, the federal government has been able to provide these life-saving treatments free of charge to Americans and work with states to make sure they get to as many people as possible who need them. In order to keep these treatments free and available to the American people for as long as possible, the Administration will now have to stretch our current supply and, starting next week, will be forced to cut state allocations of our limited existing supply of life-saving monoclonal antibody treatments by more than 30%. 
  • Halting Critical Testing, Vaccine, Treatment Efforts: The President’s National Preparedness Plan was clear that the federal government must invest in next-generation vaccines and treatments and maintain our testing capacity in order to fight COVID-19 in the future. Now, without additional funding, we do not have the ability to:
     
    • Purchase additional oral antiviral pills beyond the 20 million already secured.
       
    • Pre-purchase promising new antivirals. The reason why the Administration has been able to secure more oral antiviral pills than any other country is because we committed to purchasing them early, even prior to an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). As even more effective pills potentially become available, the federal government is no longer able to make advance purchase commitments to ensure America is one of the first countries in line. 
       
    • Accelerate the creation of a next-generation, pan-COVID vaccine that would provide broad protection against a range of variants. Vaccines are the most effective tool to prevent COVID-19, and the Administration does not have the funding for necessary investments in research and to support the development of promising new vaccine candidates.  Such next-generation vaccines hold potential to broaden protection against known and future variants, reduce dosing through single-dose primary regimens with extended duration of protection (i.e., longer interval between boosters or possible elimination of boosters altogether), and reduce costs by increasing manufacturing yields and extending shelf life.
       
    • Maintain our domestic testing capacity beyond June. After spending the last year building up our testing capacity, that progress will be squandered, the Administration will be unable to help keep domestic manufacturers online starting in June. That means, heading into the second half of the year, there will be significantly diminished domestic testing capacity and we may be unprepared for surges.
       
  • Scaling Back Planned Purchases of Preventive Treatments for Immunocompromised: The federal government has been planning to move forward with a purchase of preventative treatments for the immunocompromised as soon as March 31 that would begin delivery in September, once the treatments are manufactured.  However, absent additional funding the federal government will now be forced to scale back that purchase of treatments for our most vulnerable. Because these treatments take more than 6 months to manufacture, the United States will likely not have enough of these treatments by the end of the year.  And being unable to make additional purchase commitments now likely means that fewer treatments will be available next year as well.  
     
  • Reducing Ability to Rapidly Identify and Assess Emerging Variants.  Robust surveillance and research are critical to identify, understand and monitor emerging variants.  With reduced capability to perform adequate surveillance, the country will be prone to being “blindsided” by future variants. In the absence of funding to immediately assess lab-based efficacy and real-world effectiveness of existing vaccines and treatments as new variants emerge, health care professionals will be forced to make insufficiently informed treatment decisions. The Administration will need to wind down some COVID surveillance investments, leaving us less able to detect the next variant.
     
  • Damage to Global Vaccination and COVID-19 Treatment Efforts: Without additional funding to support getting shots into arms, USAID and interagency partners will have to cut short efforts to turn vaccines into vaccinations across the globe.  Leaving large unvaccinated populations worldwide will increase the risk of new deadly variants emerging that could evade our current vaccines and treatments.  Without additional funds, the Administration would be unable to extend Global VAX surge support to 20+ additional under-vaccinated countries that will need intensive support this year to get shots in arms. This will devastate our ability to ensure those countries can effectively deploy safe and effective vaccines. USAID will also be unable to provide life-saving supplies, tests, therapeutics, oxygen, and humanitarian aid to countries still struggling to manage a continuing COVID disease burden. 

 
In addition to the immediate need for funding, in order to facilitate a smooth transition to insurance coverage of life-savings COVID treatments the Administration is requesting that Congress provides authority to ensure seamless access to Medicare and insurance coverage for treatments under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

On Equal Pay Day, Biden-Harris Administration Commit to Support Women’s Economic Security

On Equal Pay Day, the White House is announcing critical steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to advance pay equity and promote women’s economic security. President Biden and Vice President Harris have long championed equal pay as a cornerstone of their commitment to ensuring all people have a fair and equal opportunity to get ahead. New actions promote women’s employment and support working families across the country © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

This Equal Pay Day, the White House is announcing critical steps that the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to advance pay equity and promote women’s economic security.
 
President Biden and Vice President Harris have long championed equal pay as a cornerstone of their commitment to ensuring all people have a fair and equal opportunity to get ahead. Closing gender and racial wage gaps is essential to building an equitable economy and addressing the barriers that have long hampered women from fully participating in the labor force. But we still have work to do. In 2020, the average woman working full-time, year-round earned 83 cents for every dollar paid to their average male counterpart.  Compared with the average man working full-time, year-round, disparities are even greater for Black women, Native American women, and Latinas, as well as certain subpopulations of Asian women.
 
This Equal Pay Day, the Vice President is hosting a virtual summit, bringing together partners across the country who are taking critical steps to tackle pay discrimination, create good-paying jobs, and support families’ access to care.

Yesterday, the President published a proclamation on Equal Pay Day. The President stated “Equal pay is a matter of justice, fairness, and dignity — it is about living up to our values and who we are as a Nation.’  (Read and share the full proclamation here: A Proclamation on National Equal Pay Day, 2022 | The White House)

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions to promote women’s employment and support working families across the country. These actions will:
 
• Advance pay equity for the Federal workforce.  The Office of Personnel Management announced that they anticipate issuing a proposed regulation that will address the use of prior salary history in the hiring and pay-setting process for Federal employees, consistent with the President’s Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce.  Banning the use of prior salary history can help break the cycle of past arbitrary and potentially discriminatory pay that can follow women and workers of color from job to job, entrenching gender and racial pay gaps over time. 
 
• Promote efforts to achieve pay equity for job applicants and employees of Federal contractors. President Biden will sign an Executive Order directing the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to consider enhancing pay equity and transparency, including by limiting or prohibiting federal contractors from seeking and considering information about job applicants’ and employees’ existing or past compensation when making employment decisions, and appropriate accountability measures.  The Department of Labor will consult with the FAR Council on the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness in Federal contracting that would be promoted by potential regulatory changes, and the most effective implementation strategy for any subsequent rulemaking.
 
• Strengthen pay equity audits by Federal contractors. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs issued a new directive clarifying federal contractors’ annual obligation to analyze their compensation practices.  Conducting these pay equity audits helps address and prevent pay disparities based on gender, race, or ethnicity.
 
• Ensure equitable access to good-paying jobs. The Department of Labor issued a report analyzing the impact that women’s concentration in low-wage sectors – and their relative underrepresentation in many good-paying occupations – has on their overall economic security and gender and racial wage gaps. The report finds that, in 2019, Black women lost $39.3 billion and Hispanic women lost $46.7 billion in wages compared to white men due to differences in industry and occupation. This segregation intensified the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women, in part due to the overrepresentation of women in hard-hit industries such as hospitality.  
 
• Address discrimination against caregivers.  Yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published technical assistance on caregiver discrimination, addressing the circumstances under which discrimination against applicants and employees based on pandemic-related caregiving responsibilities may violate federal employment discrimination laws.
 
The actions announced today build on steps the Administration has taken to advance pay equity, including:
 
• Provided immediate relief through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to millions of women who have borne the brunt of the pandemic.  This work includes: standing up a historic vaccination program that has fully vaccinated more than 215 million Americans; reopening schools; providing direct payments to individuals; expanding nutrition programs for families; providing paid leave tax credits for small and midsize employers; distributing the majority of emergency rental assistance to female-headed households; and expanding the Child Tax Credit, which last year helped reduce child poverty to its estimated lowest level in recorded American history.
 
• Helped keep child care providers open and boosted pay for child care workers. States have already delivered American Rescue Plan stabilization grants to more than 150,000 child care providers serving more than 5 million children and their families. One survey finds that 92% of providers receiving funds relied on them to help stay open and nearly half used them to repay debt incurred during the pandemic. Many states also used funds to help boost compensation of the child care workforce. For example, Minnesota is requiring providers to increase compensation, while North Carolina and Connecticut offered bonus payments to providers who increased compensation of the workforce. Increasing compensation for child care workers helps narrow gender and racial pay gaps, as more than nine in ten are women and more than four in ten are women of color. While ARP funds allowed child care programs to provide temporary bonuses, they need long-term funding as the President has proposed to sustainably increase wages.
 
• Provided tax relief to help families with child care costs during the pandemic by delivering a historic increase in the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to support millions of working families this tax season. The ARP increased the maximum CDCTC for a median income family with two children under age 13 by more than sixtimes—providing up to $8,000 towards child care expenses in 2021. It will reimburse most families for up to half of their child care expenses. And the ARP CDCTC is fully-refundable, helping lower-income parents fully benefit regardless of their tax liability. Even before the pandemic, families struggled to afford child care, forcing parents and especially mothers to forego higher paying jobs, work fewer hours, or take time out of the workforce, leading to lower pay over their career. The President has urged Congress to pass his plan for child care, which could lower child care costs for nine in ten families with young children.
 
• Increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour for Federal workers and contractors, benefiting many women and people of color. The President issued Executive Orders directing the Administration to work toward ensuring that employees working on federal contracts and federal employees earned a $15 per hour minimum wage. Those directives went into effect in January, raising the wages of about 370,000 federal employees and employees of federal contractors. In addition to helping the government do its work more efficiently, these directives take a step towards narrowing racial and gender disparities in income, as many low-wage workers are women and people of color. The order also eliminates the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities. The President has called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, so that American workers can have a job that delivers dignity, and to make greater strides towards pay equity.
 
• Signed into law the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  Administration investments through this law will increase access to good-paying jobs, including for women, people of color, and members of other communities who are currently underrepresented in the sectors where these jobs will be created, such as transportation, clean energy, and broadband.  The Department of Transportation and the Department of Labor signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the creation of good infrastructure and transportation jobs with a focus on equitable workforce development using funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
 
• Issued an Executive Order to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility across the federal government – the nation’s largest employer – including by prioritizing efforts to close gender and racial wage gaps, address workplace safety and harassment, including in our national security workforce, and advance equity for LGBTQI+ public servants.
 
• Issued an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. This established the Administration’s policy of addressing anticompetitive behavior in labor markets, which can fall heavily on women and workers of color. The Order includes specific initiatives to promote competition in labor markets, including encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban or limit non-compete agreements, and encouraging the FTC and the Department of Justice to strengthen antitrust guidance to prevent employers from collaborating to suppress wages or reduce benefits by sharing wage and benefit information with one another.

The White House Equal Pay Day Summit
Tuesday, March 15, 2022 | 3pm ET 
Watch live here:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/

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