Category Archives: Coronavirus Pandemic

Biden Launches Aggressive Plan, Including Vaccine Mandates, More Testing, Treatments to Combat COVID-19

President Joe Biden, declaring that America has lost patience with the 25 percent of Americans – 80 million – who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in face of a surging Delta variant, put away the carrot and took out the stick, issuing new executive orders that will mandate vaccinations for all federal workers and workers for federal contractors, personnel in hospitals and medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid, and requiring corporations with over 100 workers to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing – orders that will cover about two-thirds of all American workers. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden, declaring that America has lost patience with the 25 percent of Americans – 80 million – who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in face of a surging Delta variant, put away the carrot and took out the stick, issuing new executive orders that will mandate vaccinations for all federal workers and workers for federal contractors, personnel in hospitals and medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid, and requiring corporations with over 100 workers to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing – orders that will cover about two-thirds of all American workers.

“What makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans –supported by a distinct minority of elected officials — are keeping us from turning the corner.  These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die.

“We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal…

“My plan also increases testing, protects our economy, and will make our kids safer in schools.  It consists of six broad areas of action and many specific measures in each that — and each of those actions that you can read more about at WhiteHouse.gov.”

Key to the plan is the mandate vaccinations in various instances

“This is not about freedom or personal choice.  It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.
 
“My job as President is to protect all Americans.” 

To the unvaccinated, the President said, “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin.  And your refusal has cost all of us.  So, please, do the right thing.  But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, “If only I had gotten vaccinated.”  “If only.”

Here’s a highlighted transcript of his speech on September 9, 2021:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, my fellow Americans.  I want to talk to you about where we are in the battle against COVID-19, the progress we’ve made, and the work we have left to do.
 
And it starts with understanding this: Even as the Delta variant COVID-19 has been hitting this country hard, we have the tools to combat the virus, if we can come together as a country and use those tools.
 
If we raise our vaccination rate, protect ourselves and others with masking and expanded testing, and identify people who are infected, we can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19.
 
It will take a lot of hard work, and it’s going to take some time.  Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free.
 
You might be confused about what is true and what is false about COVID-19.  So before I outline the new steps to fight COVID-19 that I’m going to be announcing tonight, let me give you some clear information about where we stand.
 
First, we have made considerable progress in battling COVID-19.  When I became President, about 2 million Americans were fully vaccinated.  Today, over 175 million Americans have that protection
 
Before I took office, we hadn’t ordered enough vaccine for every American.  Just weeks in office, we did.  The week before I took office, on January 20th of this year, over 25,000 Americans died that week from COVID-19.  Last week, that grim weekly toll was down 70 percent.
 
And in the three months before I took office, our economy was faltering, creating just 50,000 jobs a month.  We’re now averaging 700,000 new jobs a month in the past three months.
 
This progress is real.  But while America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact.
 
We’re in a tough stretch, and it could last for a while.
  The highly contagious Delta variant that I began to warn America about back in July spread in late summer like it did in other countries before us.
 
While the vaccines provide strong protections for the vaccinated, we read about, we hear about, and we see the stories of hospitalized people, people on their death beds, among the unvaccinated over these past few weeks. 
 
This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.  And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot. 
 
And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.  Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities.  This is totally unacceptable.
 
Third, if you wonder how all this adds up, here’s the math:  The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing.  Nearly three quarters of the eligible have gotten at least one shot, but one quarter has not gotten any.  That’s nearly 80 million Americans not vaccinated.  And in a country as large as ours, that’s 25 percent minority.  That 25 percent can cause a lot of damage — and they are.
 
The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning the emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, or [pancreatitis], or cancer.
 
And fourth, I want to emphasize that the vaccines provide very strong protection from severe illness from COVID-19.  I know there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation.  But the world’s leading scientists confirm that if you are fully vaccinated, your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is very low. 
 
In fact, based on available data from the summer, only one of out of every 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized for COVID per day.
 
These are the facts. 
 
So here’s where we stand: The path ahead, even with the Delta variant, is not nearly as bad as last winter.  But what makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans –supported by a distinct minority of elected officials — are keeping us from turning the corner.  These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die. 
 
We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal. 
 
As your President, I’m announcing tonight a new plan to require more Americans to be vaccinated, to combat those blocking public health. 
 
My plan also increases testing, protects our economy, and will make our kids safer in schools.  It consists of six broad areas of action and many specific measures in each that — and each of those actions that you can read more about at WhiteHouse.gov.  WhiteHouse.gov.
 
The measures — these are going to take time to have full impact.  But if we implement them, I believe and the scientists indicate, that in the months ahead we can reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans, decrease hospitalizations and deaths, and allow our children to go to school safely and keep our economy strong by keeping businesses open.
 
First, we must increase vaccinations among the unvaccinated with new vaccination requirements.  Of the nearly 80 million eligible Americans who have not gotten vaccinated, many said they were waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration — the FDA.  Well, last month, the FDA granted that approval.
 
So, the time for waiting is over.  This summer, we made progress through the combination of vaccine requirements and incentives, as well as the FDA approval.  Four million more people got their first shot in August than they did in July. 
 
But we need to do more.  This is not about freedom or personal choice.  It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.
 
My job as President is to protect all Americans. 
 
So, tonight, I’m announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.
 
Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this: United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Food, and even Fox News.
 
The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers.  We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.
 
My plan will extend the vaccination requirements that I previously issued in the healthcare field.  Already, I’ve announced, we’ll be requiring vaccinations that all nursing home workers who treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid, because I have that federal authority.
 
Tonight, I’m using that same authority to expand that to cover those who work in hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities –- a total of 17 million healthcare workers.
 
If you’re seeking care at a health facility, you should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated.  Simple.  Straightforward.  Period.
 
Next, I will sign an executive order that will now require all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated — all.  And I’ve signed another executive order that will require federal contractors to do the same.
 
If you want to work with the federal government and do business with us, get vaccinated.  If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce. 
 
And tonight, I’m removing one of the last remaining obstacles that make it difficult for you to get vaccinated.
 
The Department of Labor will require employers with 100 or more workers to give those workers paid time off to get vaccinated.  No one should lose pay in order to get vaccinated or take a loved one to get vaccinated.
 
Today, in total, the vaccine requirements in my plan will affect about 100 million Americans –- two thirds of all workers. 
 
And for other sectors, I issue this appeal: To those of you running large entertainment venues — from sports arenas to concert venues to movie theaters — please require folks to get vaccinated or show a negative test as a condition of entry.
 
And to the nation’s family physicians, pediatricians, GPs — general practitioners –- you’re the most trusted medical voice to your patients.  You may be the one person who can get someone to change their mind about being vaccinated. 
 
Tonight, I’m asking each of you to reach out to your unvaccinated patients over the next two weeks and make a personal appeal to them to get the shot.  America needs your personal involvement in this critical effort.
 
And my message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for?  What more do you need to see?  We’ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient.
 
The vaccine has FDA approval.  Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. 
 
We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin.  And your refusal has cost all of us.  So, please, do the right thing.  But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, “If only I had gotten vaccinated.”  “If only.”
 
It’s a tragedy.  Please don’t let it become yours.
 
The second piece of my plan is continuing to protect the vaccinated.
 
For the vast majority of you who have gotten vaccinated, I understand your anger at those who haven’t gotten vaccinated.  I understand the anxiety about getting a “breakthrough” case.
 
But as the science makes clear, if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re highly protected from severe illness, even if you get COVID-19.  
 
In fact, recent data indicates there is only one confirmed positive case per 5,000 fully vaccinated Americans per day.
 
You’re as safe as possible, and we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way — keep it that way, keep you safe.
 
That’s where boosters come in — the shots that give you even more protection than after your second shot.
 
Now, I know there’s been some confusion about boosters.  So, let me be clear: Last month, our top government doctors announced an initial plan for booster shots for vaccinated Americans.  They believe that a booster is likely to provide the highest level of protection yet.
 
Of course, the decision of which booster shots to give, when to start them, and who will give them, will be left completely to the scientists at the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control.
 
But while we wait, we’ve done our part.  We’ve bought enough boosters — enough booster shots — and the distribution system is ready to administer them.
 
As soon as they are authorized, those eligible will be able to get a booster right away in tens of thousands of sites across the country for most Americans, at your nearby drug store, and for free
 
The third piece of my plan is keeping — and maybe the most important — is keeping our children safe and our schools open.  For any parent, it doesn’t matter how low the risk of any illness or accident is when it comes to your child or grandchild.  Trust me, I know. 
 
So, let me speak to you directly.  Let me speak to you directly to help ease some of your worries.
 
It comes down to two separate categories: children ages 12 and older who are eligible for a vaccine now, and children ages 11 and under who are not are yet eligible.
 
The safest thing for your child 12 and older is to get them vaccinated.  They get vaccinated for a lot of things.  That’s it.  Get them vaccinated.
 
As with adults, almost all the serious COVID-19 cases we’re seeing among adolescents are in unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds — an age group that lags behind in vaccination rates.
 
So, parents, please get your teenager vaccinated.
 
What about children under the age of 12 who can’t get vaccinated yet?  Well, the best way for a parent to protect their child under the age of 12 starts at home.  Every parent, every teen sibling, every caregiver around them should be vaccinated.  
 
Children have four times higher chance of getting hospitalized if they live in a state with low vaccination rates rather than the states with high vaccination rates. 
 
Now, if you’re a parent of a young child, you’re wondering when will the vaccine be available for them.  I strongly support an independent scientific review for vaccine uses for children under 12.  We can’t take shortcuts with that scientific work. 
 
But I’ve made it clear I will do everything within my power to support the FDA with any resource it needs to continue to do this as safely and as quickly as possible, and our nation’s top doctors are committed to keeping the public at large updated on the process so parents can plan.
 
Now to the schools.  We know that if schools follow the science and implement the safety measures — like testing, masking, adequate ventilation systems that we provided the money for, social distancing, and vaccinations — then children can be safe from COVID-19 in schools.
 
Today, about 90 percent of school staff and teachers are vaccinated.  We should get that to 100 percent.  My administration has already required teachers at the schools run by the Defense Department — because I have the authority as President in the federal system — the Defense Department and the Interior Department — to get vaccinated.  That’s authority I possess. 
 
Tonight, I’m announcing that we’ll require all of nearly 300,000 educators in the federal paid program, Head Start program, must be vaccinated as well to protect your youngest –– our youngest — most precious Americans and give parents the comfort.
 
And tonight, I’m calling on all governors to require vaccination for all teachers and staff.  Some already have done so, but we need more to step up. 
 
Vaccination requirements in schools are nothing new.  They work.  They’re overwhelmingly supported by educators and their unions.  And to all school officials trying to do the right thing by our children: I’ll always be on your side. 
 
Let me be blunt.  My plan also takes on elected officials and states that are undermining you and these lifesaving actions.  Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their jobs.  Talk about bullying in schools.  If they’ll not help — if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way. 
 
The Department of Education has already begun to take legal action against states undermining protection that local school officials have ordered.  Any teacher or school official whose pay is withheld for doing the right thing, we will have that pay restored by the federal government 100 percent.  I promise you I will have your back. 
 
The fourth piece of my plan is increasing testing and masking.  From the start, America has failed to do enough COVID-19 testing.  In order to better detect and control the Delta variant, I’m taking steps tonight to make testing more available, more affordable, and more convenient.  I’ll use the Defense Production Act to increase production of rapid tests, including those that you can use at home. 
 
While that production is ramping up, my administration has worked with top retailers, like Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger’s, and tonight we’re announcing that, no later than next week, each of these outlets will start to sell at-home rapid test kits at cost for the next three months.  This is an immediate price reduction for at-home test kits for up to 35 percent reduction.
 
We’ll also expand free testing at 10,000 pharmacies around the country.  And we’ll commit — we’re committing $2 billion to purchase nearly 300 million rapid tests for distribution to community health centers, food banks, schools, so that every American, no matter their income, can access free and convenient tests.  This is important to everyone, particularly for a parent or a child — with a child not old enough to be vaccinated.  You’ll be able to test them at home and test those around them.
 
In addition to testing, we know masking helps stop the spread of COVID-19.  That’s why when I came into office, I required masks for all federal buildings and on federal lands, on airlines, and other modes of transportation.  
 
Today — tonight, I’m announcing that the Transportation Safety Administration — the TSA — will double the fines on travelers that refuse to mask.  If you break the rules, be prepared to pay. 
 
And, by the way, show some respect.  The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong; it’s ugly. 
 
The fifth piece of my plan is protecting our economic recovery.  Because of our vaccination program and the American Rescue Plan, which we passed early in my administration, we’ve had record job creation for a new administration, economic growth unmatched in 40 years.  We cannot let unvaccinated do this progress — undo it, turn it back. 
 
So tonight, I’m announcing additional steps to strengthen our economic recovery.  We’ll be expanding COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs.  That’s a program that’s going to allow small businesses to borrow up to $2 million from the current $500,000 to keep going if COVID-19 impacts on their sales. 
 
These low-interest, long-term loans require no repayment for two years and be can used to hire and retain workers, purchase inventory, or even pay down higher cost debt racked up since the pandemic began.  I’ll also be taking additional steps to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. 
 
Sixth, we’re going to continue to improve the care of those who do get COVID-19.  In early July, I announced the deployment of surge response teams.  These are teams comprised of experts from the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, the Defense Department, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — FEMA — to areas in the country that need help to stem the spread of COVID-19. 
 
Since then, the federal government has deployed nearly 1,000 staff, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, into 18 states.  Today, I’m announcing that the Defense Department will double the number of military health teams that they’ll deploy to help their fellow Americans in hospitals around the country. 
 
Additionally, we’re increasing the availability of new medicines recommended by real doctors, not conspiracy theorists.  The monoclonal antibody treatments have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by up to 70 percent for unvaccinated people at risk of developing sefe- — severe disease. 
 
We’ve already distributed 1.4 million courses of these treatments to save lives and reduce the strain on hospitals.  Tonight, I’m announcing we will increase the average pace of shipment across the country of free monoclonal antibody treatments by another 50 percent.
 
Before I close, let me say this: Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by this virus.  And as we continue to battle COVID-19, we will ensure that equity continues to be at the center of our response.  We’ll ensure that everyone is reached.  My first responsibility as President is to protect the American people and make sure we have enough vaccine for every American, including enough boosters for every American who’s approved to get one. 
 
We also know this virus transcends borders.  That’s why, even as we execute this plan at home, we need to continue fighting the virus overseas, continue to be the arsenal of vaccines. 
 
We’re proud to have donated nearly 140 million vaccines over 90 countries, more than all other countries combined, including Europe, China, and Russia combined.  That’s American leadership on a global stage, and that’s just the beginning.
 
We’ve also now started to ship another 500 million COVID vaccines — Pfizer vaccines — purchased to donate to 100 lower-income countries in need of vaccines.  And I’ll be announcing additional steps to help the rest of the world later this month.
 
As I recently released the key parts of my pandemic preparedness plan so that America isn’t caught flat-footed when a new pandemic comes again — and it will — next month, I’m also going to release the plan in greater detail.
 
So let me close with this: We have made so much progress during the past seven months of this pandemic.  The recent increases in vaccinations in August already are having an impact in some states where case counts are dropping in recent days.  Even so, we remain at a critical moment, a critical time.  We have the tools.  Now we just have to finish the job with truth, with science, with confidence, and together as one nation.
 
Look, we’re the United States of America.  There’s nothing — not a single thing — we’re unable to do if we do it together.  So let’s stay together.
 
God bless you all and all those who continue to serve on the frontlines of this pandemic.  And may God protect our troops.
 
Get vaccinated.

Biden Administration Details Plans for Ongoing Pandemic Preparedness

A medical volunteer administers the COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Nassau County, Long Island, New York. The Biden Administration has developed plans and strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for inevitable future pandemics © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In a White House press call, September 3, 2021, Biden Administration officials laid out plans and strategy for pandemic preparedness to counter the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting the nation and the world, and to prepare for inevitable future pandemics.

The administration is seeking$65.3 billion over 7 to 10 years to institute the full set of capabilities needed to transform our ability to be prepared for any family of virus.  

“President Biden is committed to combatting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Building Back Better for the next biological threat.  As part of this responsibility, the United States must lean forward and catalyze the advances in science, technology, and core capabilities required to protect the Nation against future and potentially catastrophic biological threats, whether naturally-occurring, accidental, or deliberate. “

Here are the remarks, and a fact sheet detailing the Biden Administration’s plan:

Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Dr. Eric Lander stated:

     The COVID-19 pandemic arrived at a time when science and technology capabilities were changing very rapidly.  Recent scientific advances made it possible to respond much more rapidly than ever before.  Had COVID-19 emerged five years ago, we would have had far fewer tools to do this.

     But, five years from now, we need to have much better capabilities.  We need to have better capabilities because, well, even with the knowledge and the tools that dramatically improved our ability to respond, COVID-19 has still been devastating for the nation and the world.

     As of today, COVID-19 has killed at least 642,000 Americans and many, many millions of people around the world, and many recovered patients are living with long-term effects of the disease.
 
It’s also caused economic damage to the United States that’s been estimated in the range of $16 trillion in lost economic output, direct spending, mortality, and morbidity.  And the societal impact has been borne disproportionately by frontline and vulnerable populations, especially people of color.

     We need better capabilities also because there is a reasonable likelihood that another serious pandemic that could be worse than COVID-19 will occur soon, possibly even within the next decade.  And the next pandemic will very likely be substantially different than COVID-19.  So, we must be prepared to deal with any type of viral threat.

     Now, because of ongoing progress in science and technology and innovation, we can have better capabilities for medicine, for situational awareness, for public health, and for lots more.  For the first time in the nation’s history, we have the opportunity, due to these kinds of advances in science and technology, not just to refill stockpiles, but transform our capabilities.  But we really need to start preparing now.

    We’ve got to seize the unique opportunity to transform our scientific capabilities so we’re prepared for the increasing frequency of biological threats on the horizon.  Investing to avert or mitigate the huge toll of future pandemics or other biological threats is both an economic and moral imperative.

     So, five years from now, we need to be in a far stronger position to stop infectious diseases before they become global pandemics like COVID-19.

     Now, there’s a lot we can do to transform our scientific capabilities for vaccine, therapeutic, diagnostic development; for early warning; for public health systems.
 
Importantly, these kinds of advances will not only strengthen our systems for dealing with future biological threats, they will be valuable for everyday public health and medical care for all Americans and for the world.  This will help everyday public health for everyone.

     Now, all these efforts, I’ve got to say, must, from the very outset, include a strong emphasis on reducing inequities and increasing access for all Americans to the resulting advances, because as we’ve seen from this pandemic, having the burden largely borne by vulnerable populations is unacceptable.

     The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fundamental issues with America’s public heath that go far beyond pandemic preparedness.

     The issues include the need to increase overall public health funding, strengthen the public health workforce, eliminate barriers to access, improve data systems, address disparities, improve communications, and improve coordination across federal, state, local, and Tribal authorities. 

     The plan that’s being released today addresses needs directly related to pandemic preparedness, but I just want to emphasize there are broader public health issues that’ll need to be addressed separately and in a coordinated fashion.

     So, today, the White House is releasing a document entitled “American Pandemic Preparedness: Transforming our Capabilities,” and the document describes goals under five pillars to protect the U.S. against biological threats.

     Pillar number one is: transforming our medical defenses, including improving vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

     Pillar number two: ensuring situational awareness about infectious disease threats, for both early warning and real-time monitoring.

     Pillar three: strengthening public health systems, both in the U.S. and internationally, to be able to respond to emergencies, with a particular focus on protecting the most vulnerable communities.

     Pillar four: building core capabilities, including personal protective equipment, stockpiles and supply chains, biosafety and biosecurity, and regulatory improvement.

     And pillar five: managing the mission, with the seriousness of purpose, commitment, and accountability of an Apollo Program.

     So, while the government — the U.S. government has made and must continue to make investments in basic science research, this plan includes the full set of capabilities needed to transform our ability to be prepared for any family of virus.  The cost is $65.3 billion over 7 to 10 years.  

     And it’s vital that we start with an initial outlay of $15- to $20 billion to jumpstart these efforts.  And, accordingly, we’re proposing that the current budget reconciliation provides at least $15 billion towards this goal.

     The administration will work through other appropriations to support the remainder of that $65.3 billion budget, above baseline, needed to execute the plan in full.

     And over the coming months, the White House will be developing the President’s budget, which will provide resources to ensure that the United States is prepared for the next pandemic.

     So, let me just say, these critical investments will build on and complement the broader U.S. government biomedical and health research portfolio. 

     We strongly believe that this mission is so important that it needs to be managed with the seriousness of purpose, commitment, and accountability of, well, President Kennedy’s Apollo Program, overseen by a dedicated program office.

     So we’re proposing there be a centralized “Mission Control” acting as a single, unified program management unit that draws on expertise from multiple agencies at HHS, including NIH, CDC, BARDA, FDA, and CMS, as well as other agencies and departments such as DOD, DOE, VA.  You know, for example, the Countermeasures Acceleration Group — formerly “Operation Warp Speed” — is led by a single joint program management unit.

     And Mission Control should have the responsibility and the authority to develop and update plans with objective and transparent milestones; regularly assess and publicly report on mission progress; shift funding to ensure that goals are achieved; coordinate linkages across performers in government — academia, philanthropy, and industry; and conduct periodic exercises to evaluate our actual national pandemic preparedness by deploying these capabilities, including through testing rapid product development.  And it should seek input of outside experts and have working groups that allow it to get the best possible advice.

     So, like any ambitious endeavor — whether it’s going to the Moon with the Apollo mission or cracking the human DNA with the Human Genome Project — an effort like this will take serious, sustained commitment and accountability.

     And like those kinds of efforts, it is likely to yield benefits far beyond the initial mission — in this case, advances in human health and providing tools that can help overcome health inequities and ensure equitable access to innovative products for all Americans. 

     So, we at the Office of Science and Technology have been working hard on the plan in very close partnership with the National Security Council, and particularly the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan. 

NSC Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense Dr. Beth Cameron on American Pandemic Preparedness stated:

The President has been committed from day one to pandemic readiness, including ending this pandemic which threatens the world and continues to create dangerous variants.  

     In parallel, he and the administration remain committed to advancing, repairing, and strengthening health security and pandemic preparedness for the future, including obviously here in the United States but also around the world.  

     And that’s why the President took swift action early to lay out a vision and plans for this work, including signing his first National Security Memorandum, which focused on the COVID-19 health and humanitarian response; advancing health security; and building better biological preparedness.  And this plan is really one central piece of that effort. 

     We’re also actively implementing many of the actions called for in NSM-1, including, obviously, releasing a COVID-19 response strategy, both domestically and globally.  We’ve established a new domestic Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics.  We’ve reengaged with the WHO on day one.  We’re working across the government to raise the global and domestic research and development ambition to decrease the timing between detection of the new biological threat and safe delivery of targeted countermeasures and therapeutics.  And you obviously heard a lot more about that from Dr. Lander. 
 
We’re reviewing the existing state of our biodefense enterprise — and I’ll come back to that in a second — and we continue to prioritize helping other countries in need to build their capacities to prevent, detect, and respond, and to advance our programs that support the global health security agenda and establish catalytic health security financing for the future.
 
The President signed, on his first day in office, Executive Order 13987, and that focused on the organization here in the United States for COVID-19, but also on emerging biological threats.  And it included reestablishing my office — the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense on the NSC staff.   

     And we’re really here to provide a high-level “belly button,” if you will, to elevate these important issues to the President and the NSC.  
 
Our team has a “no-fail” mission to rapidly mobilize the policy machinery to elevate high-consequence infectious disease outbreaks quickly across the White House and to the National Security Advisor, and really to empower agencies to adopt a no-regrets response.

     And we’re working very closely with OSTP and across the White House with all relevant departments and agencies as well to do a whole-of-government review and update of national bio-preparedness policies, which is directed by that executive order and by National Security Memorandum-1.  

     And so the document that we’re releasing today that Eric outlined in detail lays out a set of urgent needs and opportunities that are necessary to protect the United States against biological and pandemic threats.

     We believe that transforming our capabilities will require a systematic effort and a shared vision for biological preparedness that, as you heard from Eric, is really akin to an Apollo mission.  

     And that’s why we envision that this will be a core element of our strategy going forward on biodefense and pandemic readiness, informed by lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

     Importantly, though, we continue to take stock of our full range of biodefense, pandemic readiness, and global health security needs, including capabilities, policies, and practices that we need to update and refresh, building on our lessons from COVID-19 and other outbreaks.

     While this plan does lay out a clear vision for bio-preparedness, it doesn’t cover everything.  As Dr. Lander said, it’s really focused on our capabilities at home to prepare for pandemic. 

     COVID-19 has enumerated a number of challenges in our preparedness for a moderate pandemic, but we do need additional capabilities to be fully prepared for any biological event that comes our way, and that includes countering bioterrorism; countering the development and use of biological weapons; strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention; improving food security and food defense, zoonotic spillover events, and others.

     And we really focused this document on specific capabilities to stop a pandemic sooner, including a strong emphasis on science and technology, and early countermeasure development.  And we felt it was urgent to get started on this issue immediately.  
 
Simultaneously, we remain focused on reviewing and updating our other policies and practices, including across the broader healthcare system, workforce, and other areas.  And of course, we remain laser focused on the domestic and global COVID-19 response and our full programs of — a full suite of programs in support of those efforts.  These are vital, and the President has also placed a major priority on them, including in his FY22 Budget Request.

     So, just in closing, as we finalize our broader whole-of-government bio-preparedness effort, as directed by the President, this an important and crucial element, and we have to start now.

FACT SHEET:
Biden Administration to Transform Capabilities for Pandemic Preparedness

President Biden is committed to combatting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Building Back Better for the next biological threat.  As part of this responsibility, the United States must lean forward and catalyze the advances in science, technology, and core capabilities required to protect the Nation against future and potentially catastrophic biological threats, whether naturally-occurring, accidental, or deliberate.
 
We must seize the opportunity to ready ourselves for the biological threats on the horizon. Investing to avert or mitigate the huge toll of future pandemics and other biological threats is an economic and moral imperative. The cost of pandemic prevention pales in comparison to the enormous cost – in lives and in economic cost – of a pandemic. It’s hard to imagine a higher return on national investment.
 
On January 20, the President directed a whole-of-government review of U.S. national biopreparedness policies and re-established the National Security Council Directorate on Global Health Security and Biodefense. Today, we are releasing a plan for transforming U.S. capabilities to prepare for and respond rapidly and effectively to future pandemics and other high consequence biological threats. This plan is a core element of the larger strategy to bolster and resource pandemic readiness and biodefense.
 
This plan, laid out in American Pandemic Preparedness: Transforming our Capabilities, lays out a set of urgent needs and opportunities in five key areas necessary to protect the United States against biological threats:

I. Transforming our Medical Defenses, including dramatically improving and expanding our arsenal of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

II. Ensuring Situational Awareness about infectious-disease threats, for both early warning and real-time monitoring.

III. Strengthening Public Health Systems, both in the U.S. and internationally to be able to respond to emergencies, with a particular focus on reducing inequities and protecting the most vulnerable communities.  

IV. Building Core Capabilities, including personal protective equipment, stockpiles and supply chains, biosafety and biosecurity, and regulatory improvement.  

V. Managing the Mission, with seriousness of purpose, commitment, and accountability akin to the Apollo mission, which brought our astronauts to the moon decades ago.  

This work will include, from the outset, a strong focus on ensuring equity and access by all Americans to the resulting advances.
 
Because transforming our capabilities will take time, it is imperative that we start now.
 
Achieving these capabilities will require a systematic effort and shared vision for biological preparedness across our government.  Like any ambitious endeavor – whether the Apollo mission or the Human Genome Project that cracked the code of human genetics – transforming our nation’s pandemic preparedness will take serious, sustained commitment and ambitious accountability. And like those efforts, it is likely to yield benefits beyond the original mission – in this case advances in human health and providing tools that could overcome health inequities and ensure equitable access to innovative products.
 
In addition to this plan’s efforts to strengthen public health in the context of pandemic preparedness, we also must address the broader need to strengthen the U.S. public health system and reinvigorate our public health workforce. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to efforts to support our public health workforce and to prevent the types of public health inequities revealed by COVID-19.
 
Over the next several weeks, we will be building on this vision as we finalize our whole-of-government biopreparedness review, continue to learn from COVID-19, and commit ourselves to a biodefense and pandemic readiness strategy that builds back better in the United States and around the world for this pandemic and the next.

Musical Stars Come Out –Until the Rain – for ‘We Love NYC Homecoming Concert’ in Central Park – Here’s a Photo Replay

New Yorkers celebrate recovering from the coronavirus pandemic with a “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” on the Great Lawn in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Despite being cut short midway through, the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park on Saturday, August 21, was a huge success, having brought together an estimated 60,000 enthusiastic, vaccinated New Yorkers to be entertained by an A-plus list of performers, as eclectic and diverse as New York City.

New Yorkers displayed their trademark hospitality and resiliency in being packed together on the Great Lawn in a way they haven’t been allowed to for the past 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enjoying Carlos Santana at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” on the Great Lawn in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gayle King of CBS pointed to the day that COVID-19 pandemic became real to her: when she heard of a nurse who reused her mask by turn it inside out and used a garbage bag because there was no more PPE.

“New Yorkers found a way – we were the epicenter of the virus, now the epicenter of recovery. There is a way out, even if it takes a while. We’re done with COVID but COVID is not done with us. Stay strong,” before telling the crowd assembled on Central Park’s Great Lawn to “party New York style.”

Marin Alsop conducts the New York Philharmonic to open the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” on the Great Lawn in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The concert opened with the New York Philharmonic playing a new “New York Medley” arranged by William Ross of composers and music celebrating New York City, New York’s iconic orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop, accompanied tenor mega-star Andrea Bocelli who sang Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and Italy’s standard,  “O Sol Omio.”

Tenor Andrea Bocelli performs at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” on the Great Lawn in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Then the Philharmonic closed its set with its first-ever collaboration with Jennifer Hudson — winner of honors including Academy and Grammy Awards and the star of the new Aretha Franklin biopic — who rather than singing Aretha’s famous ,”Respect,” thrilled the audience (and the orchestra) by singing an opera aria, Nessun dorma from Puccini’s Turandot, which the Queen of Soul herself once sang on the Grammys. (Did not see that coming).

Jennifer Hudson thrilled the audience by singing an opera aria, Nessun dorma, with the New York Philharmonic at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Jennifer Hudson thrilled the audience by singing an opera aria, Nessun dorma, with the New York Philharmonic at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Jennifer Hudson thrilled the audience by singing an opera aria, Nessun dorma, with the New York Philharmonic at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Then began a stunning parade of legendary performers presenting a full spectrum of musical genres and tastes. That was intentional, said producer Clive Davis.

Clive Davis, who produced the We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 in conjunction with New York City and Live Nation, says the program intentionally tapped a full spectrum of musical genres © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Carlos Santana; Rob Thomas; Journey; Earth, Wind & Fire; Jon Batiste; Hip Hop starsSpliff Star, Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, LL Cool J, French Montana and Remy Ma; country singer Kane Brown; Julia Michaels; Polo G performing music they are best known for.

Carlos Santana performs at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Fat Joe and Remy Ma perform at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rev Run joins LL Cool J on stage at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
LL Cool J performs at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Kane Brown brings country to the city at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Barry Manilow had just sat at the piano, about to begin “I Made It Through the Rain” around 7:30 pm when an announcer cut in, telling the crowd to leave the park immediately due to impending dangerous weather.

That left headliners Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and The Killers among the performers cut off.

But a light rain quickly turned into a downpour that flooded city streets, and there was thunder and lightning and one could only imagine what would have happened if they did not begin moving people out when they did.

“While it’s disappointing that tonight’s concert had to end early, the safety of everyone in attendance had to come first,” Mayor Bill DeBlasio tweeted. “To everyone who came out tonight: thank you. Thank you for showing the world that New York City is coming back stronger than ever before.”

Jon Batiste gives a spirited performance of “Freedom” at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Jon Batiste gives a spirited performance of “Freedom” at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Earth, Wind & Fire thrill the audience at the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here’s the full list of concert performers:

Jon Batiste
Andrea Bocelli
Kane Brown
LL COOL J
Elvis Costello
Lucky Daye
Earth, Wind & Fire
Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds
Cynthia Erivo
Jimmy Fallon
Jennifer Hudson
Wyclef Jean
Journey
The Killers
Gayle King
Don Lemon
Barry Manilow
The New York Philharmonic
Polo G
Carlos Santana
Paul Simon
Patti Smith
Bruce Springsteen
Rob Thomas
Maluma

New York City’s biggest cheerleaders, US Senator Chuck Schumer, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and Stephen Colbert also addressed the crowd with an upbeat message of New Yorkers having come through one of its worst crises and looking to a brighter future.

US Senator Chuck Schumer cheers for New York City’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray were hopeful the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” would be able to finish before the rain, but unfortunately, the concert was ended half way through before the first clap of thunder © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Stephen Colbert cheers for New York City’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Concern that the celebration might be premature given the resurgence of the Delta variant and breakthrough infections among vaccinated was set aside, at least for the evening, as the music got underway.

The concert was for the most part free (plus Ticketmaster fees), but people could pay for VIP packages (with premium location, VIP entrance, private restrooms, concessions with specialty food and drink options) and premium seating, and as the concert got underway, there were rumors of tickets going for as much as $5000.

An appreciative audience of some 60,000 vaccinated New Yorkers attended the “We Love NYC Homecoming Concert” in Central Park, Saturday, August 21, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Central Park concert was the climax to a week of free concerts in the boroughs: The free concerts, livestreamed by Behind The Rhyme on Twitch, were held:

●       Monday, August 16th, 3:00 p.m. at Orchard Beach in The Bronx

●       Tuesday, August 17th, 4:00 p.m. at Midland Beach on Staten Island

●       Thursday, August 19th, 4:00 p.m. at Brooklyn Army Terminal in Brooklyn

●       Friday, August 20th, 4:00 p.m. at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens

See also:

NYC HONORS HEALTH CARE, ESSENTIAL WORKERS WHO BRAVED COVID-19 WITH TICKER TAPE PARADE THROUGH CANYON OF HEROES

____________________________

© 2021 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

White House: Reopening Schools, Rebuilding With Equity

The Biden Administration is placing a priority on reopening schools safely in face of a new COVID-19 wave that is striking younger people, while advancing educational equity © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With the Delta variant of COVID-19 impacting younger people, including children too young to be vaccinated at this stage, the Biden Administration has taken decisive action to support the safe reopening of schools for in-person instruction and to address the pandemic’s disparate impact on students of color and other underserved students.

This is in stark contrast to some Republican Governors – Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas stand out– who are actively sabotaging efforts for public schools to keep their students, faculty and community safe. DeSantis has actually threatened public school districts – including Broward, Florida’s second largest – with withholding funding if they dare impose a mask mandate (the school district rescinded its order).

In remarks about the latest efforts by the administration to get COVID-19 under control and prevent needless sickness and death (some 75,000 may die by November, according to some projections), President Biden said, “I say to these governors, ‘Please, help.’  But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing.  Use your power to save lives.” (It’s as if these governors want to sabotage the Biden administration’s efforts to end the pandemic and so people suffer and then punish Democrats in the 2022 midterms and 2024 election.)

“As families across the country eagerly anticipate a return to school, the Administration is determined to ensure that our schools and students not only recover from the pandemic, but that we Build Back Better for the future.”

This fact sheet is from the White House:
 
Prioritizing safe reopening
 
The President made clear on Day One of this Administration that safely reopening schools was a national priority, signing the Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers, which launched a comprehensive effort across the White House, Department of Education, and Department of Health and Human Services to safely reopen schools for in-person instruction. The Department released two volumes of its COVID-19 Handbook focused on safely reopening schools and meeting the needs of students, and launched a clearinghouse of best practices for safely operating in-person and addressing the needs of students and staff. Secretary Cardona’s National Safe School Reopening Summit highlighted best practices from districts across the country to support safe in-person learning.
 
Vaccination is our leading strategy to end the pandemic, and—combined with the layered mitigation strategies recommended by the CDC—has the greatest potential to allow schools to reopen fully this fall and stay open for in-person learning. That’s why, in March the President prioritized teachers and school staff for access to the COVID vaccine. As a result, almost 90 percent of educators and school staff are now vaccinated. To get more of our students ages 12 and older vaccinated, the President is now calling on school districts nationwide to host at least one pop-up vaccination clinic over the coming weeks and directing pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program to prioritize this and to work with school districts across the country to host vaccination clinics at schools and colleges.
 
Heroic efforts from teachers, parents, and school staff, combined with the Administration’s aggressive vaccination push, has demonstrated that safe in-person learning is possible. Since January, the percentage of K-8 schools offering remote-only instruction decreased from 23 percent in January to only 2 percent in May.
 
However, there is still work to be done. During the pandemic, students of color have been less likely to be enrolled in in-person instruction. Data shows that on average students in remote learning report poorer well-being than those in in-person instruction. A continued reliance on remote learning threatens to further widen disparities. The Administration will continue to address the concerns of families, and provide support to states in creating safe, inclusive, and supportive learning environments.
 
Investing historic resources in equitable reopening
 
With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the Biden-Harris Administration has invested a historic $130 billion to support schools safely reopening and addressing the needs of students, including $122 billion through the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER). ARP ESSER funding supports efforts to get students back in the classroom safely for in-person learning, to safely keep schools open once students are back, and to address the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of all students. This funding is being used to help schools safely operate, implement high-quality summer learning and enrichment programs, hire nurses and counselors, support the vaccination of students and staff, and invest in other measures to take care of students.
 
Ensuring funds address the needs of students. Districts and states must spend a combined minimum of 25 percent of the state’s total ARP ESSER funds, totaling nearly $30.5 billion, to address the impact of lost instructional time through summer learning or enrichment, extended day instruction, comprehensive afterschool programs, or other evidence-based practices. Funded strategies must also respond to students’ social and emotional needs and account for the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on underserved students. The Administration recognizes that the communities that support our students have a critical understanding of what their students need and are key to ensuring funds have the greatest impact on students. As they put together their plans for the use of funds, states and school districts are required to engage a wide range of stakeholders during the planning process, including educators, school leaders and staff, students, families, civil rights organizations, and stakeholders representing the interests of students with disabilities, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, migratory students, students who are incarcerated and other underserved students.
 
Protecting high-poverty districts from funding cuts. The American Rescue Plan’s ARP ESSER program includes a first-of-its-kind maintenance of equity requirement to ensure that high-poverty school districts and schools are protected in the event of funding cuts. These requirements will ensure that school districts and schools serving a large share of students from low-income backgrounds will not experience disproportionate budget cuts—and that the school districts with the highest poverty levels do not experience any decrease in state per-pupil funding below their pre-pandemic level.
 
Ensuring states continue to fund education. The Department has emphasized the importance of the American Rescue Plan’s maintenance of effort requirement, which ensures that states continue to fulfill their commitments to fund their education systems, and has worked with states to ensure that they meet these requirements. The maintenance of effort requirement helps protect students by making sure that federal pandemic relief funds are used to meet the immediate needs and impacts of the pandemic on students and schools to the greatest extent possible, rather than to supplant general state funding for K-12 education.

Supporting effective implementation. The Department of Education has worked aggressively to support states and school districts in implementing education relief funding. This includes providing resources on how ARP ESSER funds can be used, including to support effective ventilation in schoolsvaccination efforts, creating and expand full-service community schools , hiring nurses and counselors, and providing high-quality summer programs and high-dosage tutoring to students. With critical partners like the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, the Department launched the Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative to support states providing high-quality summer learning and enrichment. 
 
Stabilizing and ensuring access to child care. High-quality early care and education helps ensure that children can take full advantage of education and training opportunities later in life. The pandemic significantly disrupted the child care sector, threatening access to this critical support and threatening economic security for childcare workers, who are disproportionately women of color. The American Rescue Plan invested $24 billion in stabilizing the child care sector, and is helping to provide this essential industry—which provides vital opportunities for children—with more flexible funding to help more low-income working families access high-quality care, increase compensation for early childhood workers, and help parents to work.   
 
Addressing the needs of students experiencing homelessness. The pandemic increased housing insecurity, and disproportionately impacted the education of students experiencing homelessness, who were less likely to be able to successfully engage in remote learning due to lack of reliable access to the internet. The Department of Education has released all $800 million in American Rescue Plan funds for identifying and addressing the needs of students experiencing homelessness, including by providing wraparound services and support ranging from afterschool to mental health services.
 
Supporting students with disabilities. The pandemic created serious challenges for many students with disabilities, who struggled to access special education and related services according to their individualized services plan. The American Rescue Plan provides support to students with disabilities and infants and toddlers with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. To ensure states can deliver the necessary services and supports to young children and youth with disabilities, the American Rescue Plan devotes nearly $2.6 billion in grants to states to support elementary and secondary education students with disabilities, $200 million for preschool children with disabilities, and $250 million for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
 
Bolstering Tribal education. The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is using $535 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support 183 BIE-funded K-12 schools, providing much-needed financial support to help Tribal communities recover more quickly from the pandemic’s wide-ranging impact.
 
Funding COVID testing. The American Rescue Plan includes $10 billion to support COVID-19 testing in schools. This funding will help to reopen schools, including in communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. 
 
Protecting the rights of students. Protecting the rights of students to equal opportunity is an essential part of ensuring educational equity. The Department of Education has provided resources to school leaders, students, families and other stakeholders to ensure students’ rights are protected, including information about civil rights and school reopening and confronting COVID-19-related harassment against AAPI students. The Department of Education has moved swiftly to implement the President’s Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity; implement a comprehensive plan to address sexual harassment, including sexual violence, in schools; and make clear that it will enforce Title IX to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including for LGBTQ+ students. The Department has also worked to address the disproportionately high rates of school discipline for students of color and students with disabilities that removes them from the classroom. The Department held a public convening on school discipline in May and launched a major, ongoing effort to address racial, disability-based and other disparities in the administration of school discipline.
 
Closing the digital divide. The American Rescue Plan included $7.2 billion for the E-Rate program, which helps support American schools by funding programs to help ensure K-12 students and teachers have the appropriate internet connections and devices for distance learning, a particular challenge in low-income and rural communities.
 
Supporting nutrition security. It is hard for students to learn successfully when they are experiencing hunger. Black and Latino households face food insecurity at twice the rate of white households. The American Rescue Plan guards against food hardship among students this summer by allowing states to continue the Pandemic-EBT program, which provides grocery benefits to replace meals for students who are eligible for free and reduced priced meals when schools are closed. It also increases SNAP benefits by 15 percent through September 2021, maintaining the increase through the summer, when childhood hunger spikes due to a lack of school meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture likewise acted to offer flexibility for the 2021-2022 school year by providing waivers that allow schools to serve free meals to all students.  
 
For more information on how President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda builds on this work by investing historic and vitally-needed resources that unlock opportunity for millions of Americans, please see the White House Fact Sheet on How the Biden-Harris Administration is Advancing Educational Equity.
 

NYC Honors Health Care, Essential Workers Who Braved COVID-19 with Ticker Tape Parade through Canyon of Heroes

Sandra Lindsay, director of Nursing Critical Care at Northwell Health in Lake Success, Long Island, and the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, was the grand marshal, leading the parade in an open classic car © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

At last, the thousands of everyday heroes who kept us alive and our lives as normal as possible during a deadly pandemic, got their due: the honor of a Ticker Tape parade through Lower Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes, to the cheers of a grateful city.

Sandra Lindsay, director of Nursing Critical Care at Northwell Health in Lake Success, Long Island, and the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, was the grand marshal, leading the parade in an open classic car © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Sandra Lindsay, director of Nursing Critical Care at Northwell Health in Lake Success, Long Island, and the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, was the grand marshal, leading the parade in an open classic car © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people rode floats and marched through the canyon of tall buildings and flowing confetti. The day marked the 125th anniversary of the New York City tradition, typically held for astronauts, soldiers and championship sports teams. The last parade was held to honor the 2019 World Cup win of the US women’s soccer team.

And that’s the level of celebrity – and appreciation  – that was bestowed on these essential workers.

Sandra Lindsay, director of Nursing Critical Care at Northwell Health in Lake Success, Long Island, and the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, was the grand marshal, leading the parade in an open classic car © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Sandra Lindsay, director of Nursing Critical Care at Northwell Health in Lake Success, Long Island, and the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, was the grand marshal, leading the parade in an open classic car.

Sandra Lindsay, director of Nursing Critical Care at Northwell Health in Lake Success, Long Island, and the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, was the grand marshal, leading the parade in an open classic car © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 “It is truly an honor and privilege to serve as the grand marshal in the Hometown Heroes ticker tape parade and represent all health care and essential workers whose heroic efforts saved lives during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lindsay, who inspired both her health worker colleagues at the height of unimaginable stress and challenge and inspired the nation to get vaccinated.

Sandra Lindsay, director of Nursing Critical Care at Northwell Health in Lake Success, Long Island, and the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, was the grand marshal, leading the parade in an open classic car © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The Summer of New York City is underway, and the beating heart of our recovery is the gratitude and respect we all share for the essential workers who brought this city out of a crisis,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who rode on a float with hospital employees and Mr. and Mrs. Met, the New York Mets’ mascots. “This celebration honors all those who fought through adversity and unprecedented challenges to keep New Yorkers safe.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlane Irene McCray, along with Sandra Lindsay, the parade Grand Marshal and other luminaries greet marchers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

 “They deserve a march down the Canyon of Heroes, because it’s something that is reserved for the greatest folks in history. Well, here are some of the folks who made history in New York City’s toughest hour,” he said.

The parade, which stretched from Battery Park up to City Hall Park, featured 14 different floats, representing 260 different organizations, making it one of the largest ticker tape parades in the city’s history. They represented hospitals, healthcare, emergency food, community care, first responders, transportation, city workers, small businesses and bodegas, education and childcare, utilities, hospitality/buildings care, reinforcements, advocacy organizations, communication and delivery.

“Thank you.” Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“New Yorkers from every corner of our city answered the call when we needed them most and showed the world what it means to be a Hometown Hero,” said Daniele Baierlein and Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, Co-Executive Directors of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “They healed us when we were sick, fed us when we were hungry, and ensured that our city’s essential services kept pace even during the toughest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful for their selfless dedication and are proud to thank them alongside every New Yorker at the Hometown Heroes parade. There’s no stopping New York!”  

Northwell health workers wait to greet parade Grand Marshal, their own Sandra Lindsay, director of Nursing Critical Care at Northwell Health in Lake Success, Long Island, and the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 “New York was among the hardest hit during the pandemic, but we likely would be grieving even more loss if it were not for the brave efforts of our health care heroes,” said Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. “We are excited to celebrate our frontline workers, who, through their tireless efforts, saved countless lives and kept us safe during the throws of the pandemic. We applaud them, too, for guiding us to recovery and helping us claim a much-needed victory in the war against COVID-19.”

Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Mastercard served as the parade’s Title Supporter; other supporters included: AMN Healthcare, AT&T, Con Edison, Google, Greater New York Hospital Association, Montefiore Medical Center, Mount Sinai Health System, National Grid, New York Presbyterian, Northwell, New York Life, Pfizer, Preferred Meals and Walgreens Duane Reade.

Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Healthcare workers, essential community business owners and everyday heroes were at the forefront of the crisis and helped us navigate new ways of interacting,” said Linda Kirkpatrick, President, North America for Mastercard. “We are proud to honor and celebrate our New York City hometown heroes whose hard work and dedication kept us safe and allowed our community to reunite.”

Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“It’s a true joy to be a part of this celebration. We honor all of the essential workers and healthcare heroes of New York City. We also give our deepest gratitude to all the nurses, physicians, allied professionals, and others who stepped forward and traveled from other locations to New York during the darkest days of COVID-19, providing support to treat the sickest, most critical patients. Many of these healthcare professionals were on the front lines of COVID-19 when cases and fatalities were spiking, safety procedures were still evolving, and the nature of the virus was not fully known. We are so grateful for the care and compassion of all those who answered the call to serve during the pandemic,” said Susan Salka, President and CEO, AMN Healthcare.

Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 “When New York City was the epicenter of the worst global pandemic in a century, our hospitals and their extraordinary workforce kept the health care system from collapsing,” said Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) president Kenneth E. Raske. “While hospital leaders expanded bed capacity by 50% virtually overnight, our doctors, nurses, patient transporters, environmental services staff, and countless others risked their lives every day to care for astonishing numbers of COVID-19 patients. The hospital community is honored to share this special day with every essential worker who helped pull the City through the pandemic, and we are grateful to Mayor de Blasio and New York City for recognizing the hometown heroes who gave so much. GNYHA salutes and thanks all of them.”

Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are proud to join in celebrating the heroes of this pandemic. Our frontline workers have saved thousands of lives and cared for the residents of this great city. Their strength, courage and resilience is truly remarkable and inspiring, and we thank them for their service as we fight to end this pandemic and return to normal. Mount Sinai Health System is a stronger medical-research community and our city and country are stronger and more ready, because of our frontline heroes,” said Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and CEO, Mount Sinai Health System. 

Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are honored to celebrate New York’s essential workers and all they do for this great city of ours, and deeply grateful to our own amazing team of health care heroes,” said Dr. Steven J. Corwin, president and chief executive officer of NewYork-Presbyterian. “We will never forget their sacrifices and their extraordinary dedication to our patients and all New Yorkers during this unprecedented time. As we build toward recovery, we proudly cheer them on – at the ‘Hometown Heroes’ Ticker Tape Parade and every day.”

New York State Attorney General Letitia James marches with 1199 SEIU workers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Pfizer greatly appreciates the opportunity to recognize our ‘Hometown Heroes’ – the essential workers who kept the City moving forward, and cared for the City’s most vulnerable, during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer. “As a company founded and headquartered here in New York City, we take special pride in the heroes among us at Pfizer, including not only our colleagues who worked tirelessly, along with our partners at BioNTech, to deliver in less than a year a breakthrough COVID-19 vaccine, but also our medically trained colleagues who volunteered to provide medical care to COVID-19 patients during the pandemic. We are thrilled that many of these colleague volunteers will have the chance to be celebrated by riding on our float in the parade.”

Health care heroes were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“When millions of our neighbors were home-bound and quarantined, our teams pulled together and leapt to action to provide over 5 million meals to New York City residents in need. The challenges of the pandemic required quick action, tireless dedication and expert execution, and I couldn’t be more proud of the work of our teams at Preferred Meals, Prepared Meals Company, Abigail Kirsch, Constellation Culinary Group, and TRIO Community Meals in serving the people of New York,” said Paul Altobelli, Managing Director of Prepared Meals Co.

“My Mommy is my hero.” Health care heroes were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are incredibly proud of our Walgreens and Duane Reade team members in New York City and across the country for the essential role they are playing to help end the pandemic and allow for celebrations, such as parades to recognize hometown heroes, to resume,” said John Standley, executive vice president, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. and president of Walgreens. “Our pharmacy staff and store team members saw first-hand the range of emotions our customers and patients experienced during this pandemic —from anxiety and strain to the relief that accompanies vaccination.  We’ve administered more than 25 million vaccine doses across the nation, demonstrating Walgreens crucial role in healthcare, as the communities we serve continue to turn to our trusted pharmacists and pharmacy technicians for their healthcare needs.”

Health care heroes were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“National Grid employees showed incredible strength, courage and resiliency during the pandemic, adapting to the changes required to safely and reliably serve our customers,” said Rudy Wynter, President, National Grid New York. “As the new president of our New York business, I’m very proud of our employees who went the extra mile providing food and essential care items to support our neighbors and other first responders in the communities we serve. I’m grateful for all essential workers who kept this great City running despite the unprecedented challenges.” 

Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“In tough times, true heroes are revealed. We applaud the bravery and sacrifice of all the courageous essential workers who put their lives on the line to care for those in need throughout the pandemic,” said Heather Nesle, president of the New York Life Foundation. “With our support, The Brave of Heart Fund was launched to honor the selfless frontline healthcare workers who lost their lives to protect the rest of us. While nothing can replace the lives lost, we are offering financial assistance of up to $75,000 to the families of those valiant healthcare workers including nurses, orderlies, cafeteria workers and anyone who worked in a medical facility and was exposed to COVID-19. Charitable relief grants remain available through 2021 and we invite every family of a healthcare worker lost to COVID-19 to visit BraveofHeartFund.com to apply for support.”

Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Over the last year and a half, our essential workers and healthcare heroes fought on the frontlines against COVID-19, taking New York City from one of the worst early epicenters of the virus to one of the best examples of beating back this pandemic,” said Patricia Jacobs, President – Northern Region, AT&T. “At a time when New Yorkers were told to stay home to stay safe, these essential workers showed up day-in and day-out to save lives  – I cannot think of a better way to honor their heroic work than a ticker tape parade. We will forever owe these Hometown Heroes a debt of gratitude, and AT&T is proud to support this public display of thanks.”

Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
City workers were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Con Edison is proud to salute New York City’s essential workers at the Hometown Heroes Ticker Tape Parade,” said Matthew Ketschke, president of Con Edison Company of New York. “Our field crews and control room personnel never stopped working throughout the pandemic to provide New Yorkers with safe and reliable energy. We thank them and all essential workers for their commitment and dedication to our community.”

Funeral directors march in the Parade of Heroes, NYC, July 7, 2021 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“COVID has presented unfathomable challenges and changes to our city, our nation and the world.  We all owe so much to every first responder and essential worker who persevered over the past year and a half to take care of our families, friends, and neighbors,” said Torrence Boone, VP and Google New York Site Lead. “Google is proud to join Mayor de Blasio and all New Yorkers in sending our gratitude and thanks.”

Google’s float carried The World’s Best 80’s Band, Jessie’s Girl © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

Because of the extreme heat, a ceremony that was supposed feature Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts was cancelled. However, water and cooling stations were provided along the route.

“Our labor saved lives.” Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
“Our labor saved lives.” Essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, bus drivers, sanitation workers, food service delivery people – were honored with a ticker tape parade through Manhattan’s iconic Canyon of Heroes to mark their invaluable service during the deadly coronavirus pandemic crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

“It being the 125th anniversary of New York City’s ticker tape celebrations, this is arguably the most important of them all.  From being the epicenter of the global pandemic, to being the forefront of recovery, on behalf of all City agencies, it is our privilege to honor all of our hometown heroes, and truly show the world there is no stopping New York,” said Dan Gross, Executive Director of Citywide Events.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlane Irene McCray, along with Sandra Lindsay, the parade Grand Marshal and other luminaries greet marchers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2021 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Biden Calls for a Month of Action to Get Americans Vaccinated to Get to a Summer of Freedom, a Summer of Joy

“The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in our fight against this virus,” said President Joe Biden. “America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year’s summer: a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we’ve all endured.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden is calling for June to be a “Month of Action” – a full-court press to reach the goal of 70 percent of Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4th. He outlined the unprecedented peacetime effort to make the vaccinations available for free, and even enticing incentives from governments, companies and sports organizations. New York State is awarding full four-year scholarships at a SUNY college; Ohio is picking $1 million lottery winners. The Biden Administration has created a website in order to find the nearest place to get a vaccination by texting your zipcode, organized free Uber lifts, free drop-in-day care and incentivized employers to give paid leave to get the shot.

“The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in our fight against this virus,” he said. “America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year’s summer: a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we’ve all endured.”

Here are his remarks:

In just four months, thanks to the American people, we have made incredible progress getting people vaccinated quickly, efficiently, and equitably. Nearly 170 million Americans of every party, every background, every walk of life have stepped up, rolled up their sleeves, and gotten the shot.
 
Fifty-two percent of adults are now fully vaccinated, including seventy-five percent of all seniors. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have achieved 50 percent of adults being fully vaccinated in their jurisdictions.
 
And it’s clearer than ever: The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in our fight against this virus.
 
Since January 20 — and we’re talking, now, about 15 [5] months — the average daily cases are down from 184,000 to 19,000, below 20,000 for the first time since March of 2020. Average hospitalizations are down from 117,000 to 21,000. Death rates are down over 85 percent.
 
And this didn’t just happen by chance. We got to this moment because we took aggressive action from day one with a whole-of-government response. We used every lever at our disposal to get this done.
 
We experienced the production and expanded it in a significant way: in lifesaving vaccines available for every single American. They’re available, and we knew that was the case months ago.
 
We worked with cities and states to create over 80,000 vaccination sites. We deployed over 9,000 federal staff, including 5,100 active-duty troops to help get shots in arms. Now, as a result, we have built a world-class vaccination program.
 
I promised you we’d marshal a wartime effort to defeat this virus, and that’s just what we’ve been doing.
 
And now, tens of millions of Americans have been vaccinated. They’re able to return to closer to a — closer-to-normal life.
 
Fully vaccinated people are safely shedding their masks and greeting one another with a smile. Grandparents are hugging their grandkids again. Small-business owners are reopening storefronts and restaurants.
 
Because of the vaccination strategy, our economic strategy, we’re — experienced the strongest economic recovery this country has seen in decades.
 
There is a group called the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development — OECD — which includes most of the world’s largest economies in its membership. They’ve been one of those leading bodies analyzing economic growth across — around the world for 60 years.
 
Just this week, they increased their projection for the U.S. economic growth this year to 6.9 percent — 6.9 percent. That’s the fastest pace in nearly four decades. And that’s because of our vaccination program and our economic response, which, alone, are adding 3 to 4 percentage points to our growth; driving stronger growth not just there — not just this year, but in years to come.
 
In fact, America is the only major country where global forecasters have actually increased their five-year forecasts for economic growth since January of 2020.
 
And because of that, America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year’s summer: a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we’ve all endured.
 
But what happens after the summer? The data could not be clearer: For all the progress we’re making as a country, if you are unvaccinated, you are still at risk of getting seriously ill or dying, or spreading disease to others, especially when Americans spend more time indoors again, closely gathered in the fall, as — and as we face the potential threat of a new, more dangerous variants. 
 
Even now, if you look at the areas of the country where vaccination rates are the highest, the death — the death rates are dramatically falling. They — the vaccines are effective; they’re effective against the variants currently circulating in the United States. On the other hand, COVID deaths are unchanged in many parts of our country that are lagging behind in vaccinations.
 
And for young people who may think this doesn’t affect you, listen up, please: This virus, even a mild case, can be with you for months. It will impact on your social life. It could have long-term implications for your health that we don’t even know about yet or fully understand yet.
 
It’s true that young people are much less likely to die from COVID. But if you do not get vaccinated, you could get COVID sooner or later. But you could get COVID still.
 
A substantial percentage of people with COVID, even young people, will suffer illnesses, and some will have long-term health impacts as a consequence.
 
If you’re thinking that the side effects from the shot are worse than the COVID, or that you can’t just take a chance, you are just dead wrong.
 
Do it for yourself. Do it to protect those more vulnerable than you: your friends, you family, your community.
 
You know, some people have questions about how quickly the vaccines were developed. They say they’ve been developed so quickly, they can’t be that good. Well, here’s what you need to know: Vaccines were developed over a decade of research in similar viruses, and they’ve gone through strict FDA clinical trials.
 
The bottom line is this — I promise you: They are safe. They are safe. And even more importantly, they’re extremely effective.
 
And if you’re vaccinated, you are protected. If you are not vaccinated, you are not protected.
 
Places with high vaccination rates will also see fewer cases of COVID moving forward. Places with lower vaccination rates are going to see more.
 
You know, we were elected to be President and Vice President for all Americans. And I don’t want to see the country that is already too divided become divided in a new way — between places where people live free from fear of COVID and places where, when the fall arrives, death and severe illnesses return.
 
The vaccine is free, it’s safe, and it’s effective. Getting the vaccine is not a partisan act. The science was done under Democratic and Republican administrations. Matter of fact, the first vaccines were authorized under a Republican President and widely developed by a Democratic President — deployed by a Democratic President.
 
All over the world, people are desperate to get a shot that every American can get at their neighborhood drug store at no cost, with no wait.
 
Every American over 12 years of age — no matter where you live, what you believe, who you voted for — has the right to get vaccinated. It’s your choice.
 
So, please, exercise your freedom, live without fear. We need to be one America, united — free from fear this fall.
 
Now, how will we keep beating this virus as we enter — as we enter the fall after summer? On May 4, I asked Americans to come together to get 70 percent of adults with one shot by July 4th — 70 percent at least with one shot. To date, 12 states have already reached this important milestone. We expect — we expect more to make this milestone this week.
 
Nationally, we are at 63 percent of adults with one shot. And we are getting closer, but we still have work to do. With 73 percent of Americans over the age of 40 with one shot, and as — we especially need people under 40 to step up. Over 40 is doing much better.
 
That’s why, today, we’re announcing a month-long effort to pull all the stops — all the stops to free ourselves from this virus and get to 70 percent of adult Americans vaccinated.
 
Now, I’m going to take everyone — you know, it’s going to take everyone — everyone — the federal government; the state governments; local, Tribal, and territorial governments; the private sector; and, most importantly, the American people — to get to the 70 percent mark so we can declare our independence from COVID-19 and free ourselves from the grip it has held over us — our lives for the better part of a year.
 
Each of you has the power to help us gain this freedom as a nation. If you get a shot this week, you can be fully vaccinated by July 4th — by the week of July the 4th. And you can celebrate Independence Day free from fear or worry.
 
This effort has five key parts. First, we’re making it easier than ever to get vaccinated. Ninety percent of you live within five miles of a vaccination site. The vaccinations are free, and most places allow walk-up vaccinations. No appointment needed.
 
You can go to Vaccines.gov or text your ZIP Code to 438829 to get a text back with the places you can get a shot that are close by.
 
And now, we’re going to make it even easier. In response to our call to action, businesses and organizations across the country have stepped up to help everyone get vaccinated.
 
Starting next week, many vaccination sites will be offering extended hours during the month of June, including pharmacies that will be open 24 hours every Friday night — for 24 hours they’ll be open — this month.
 
And if you’re too busy at work or school, you can get vaccinated around the clock on any Friday. Any Friday.
 
For parents who haven’t been able to get the shot because they didn’t have the childcare: Starting today, KinderCare, Learning Care Group, the Bright Horizons, alongside with hundreds of YMC- loc- — YMCA locations, are going to offer free drop-in childcare while the parents are getting vaccinated.
 
In addition, Uber and Lyft are both offering free rides to and from vaccination sites — vaccination centers. It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated.
 
So, again, text 438829 to find out what the nearest places you can get vaccinated are from your ZIP Code. And visit pharmacies with an extended-hour and walk-up shots that are available. Free childcare, free rides, free shots.
 
Second, we’re going to redouble our outreach and public education efforts. We’re going to relaunch them, in effect. We’re going to launch a national vaccination tour to encourage people to take the shot. The Vice President is going to lead that tour across the South and the Midwest, where we still had millions of people to vaccinate.
 
She’s going to be joined by Jill — by the First Lady and the Second Gentleman and Cabinet Secretaries along the way.
 
In the spirit of meeting people where they are, we’ll also be working with the Black Coalition Against COVID and other organizations to launch a new initiative called “Shots at the Shop.” Barbershops, beauty shops are hubs of activity and information in Black and brown communities in particular, but in many communities across the nation. Local barbers, stylists, they become key advocates for vaccinations in their communities, offering information to customers, booking appointments for them, even using their own businesses as vaccination sites. We’re going to work with shops across the country to make an even bigger impact over the next month.
 
We’ll also kick things off this weekend with a National Canvassing Weekend, where thousands of volunteers will be out knocking on doors and encourage their communities to get vaccinated.
 
And mayors — mayors will be stepping up even more over the next month and partnering with us on the City Vaccination Challenge to see which city can grow its vaccination rate the fastest — the most — by July 4th.
 
We need you to join these efforts. This is the kind of on-the-ground work that’s going to get the job done.
 
Third, we’ll be increasing our work with employers — employers. A lot of working people are holding back because they’re concerned about losing pay if they take time off to get a shot, or if they don’t feel well the next day. I’ve said before: For small- and medium-sized employers, if you give people paid time off to get a shot, you’ll get a tax credit to cover that cost.
 
Already, millions of workers across the country are eligible for paid time off and incentives from their employers. I’m asking all employers: Do the right thing.
 
And we’re making it easy for employers to set up on-the-job vaccination clinics to make it even more convenient for their employees to get a shot.
 
Fourth, we’re going to continue encouraging people to get vaccinated with incentives and fun rewards. The state of Ohio had a heck of a fun reward — a new millionaire last week — thanks to the creative idea of the governor for holding a vaccination — a vaccine lottery.
 
The grocery store, Kroger, announced that they’re going to give away $1 million each week to someone who gets vaccinated at one of their pharmacies.
 
The NBA, the NHL, NASCAR — NASCAR tracks — they’re offering vaccine- — vaccines outside playoff games and at races. Major League Baseball will be offering free tickets to people who get vaccinated at the ballpark.
 
And to top it off, Anheuser-Busch announced that beer is on them on July the 4th. That’s right, get a shot and have a beer. Free beer for everyone 21 years or over to celebrate the independence from the virus.
 
Fifth, and finally, we’re asking the American people to help. We need you. We need you to get your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers vaccinated. Help them find an appointment. Drive them to the site. Talk to them about why you made the choice for yourself. So many Americans have already stepped up to help get their communities vaccinated.
 
And over the next month, we’re going to need you more than ever. We need every American to commit to the five actions I’ve mentioned this month.
 
Go to WeCanDoThis.HHS.gov — WeCanDoThis.HHS.gov — to sign up to volunteer and learn more about how you can help.
 
Take at least five actions to help in June. And you might even be invited to visit us at the White House in July to celebrate independence together.
 
I’ll close with this: We need everyone across the country to pull together to get us over the finish line. I promise you we can do this. Just look at what we’ve already done — we’ve already accomplished together in only four months.
 
We know it for a fact: Americans could do anything when we do it together. So, please, do your part. Give it your all through July the 4th. Let’s reach our 70 percent goal. Let’s go into the summer freer and safer. Let’s celebrate a truly historic Independence Day.

“The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in our fight against this virus,” he said. “America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year’s summer: a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we’ve all endured.”

Biden Announces National Month of Action to Mobilize All-of-America Sprint to Get 70% Americans Vaccinated by July4th

National Month of Action will mobilize national organizations, local government leaders, community-based and faith-based partners, businesses, employers, social media influencers, celebrities, athletes, colleges, young people, and thousands of volunteers

President Biden highlights additional efforts by businesses and organizations across the country to advance equity and make it even easier to get vaccinated

Vice President Kamala Harris will lead a National Vaccination Tour to encourage vaccinations in key communities across the country

 

President Biden has mobilized the greatest peacetime effort in order to get 70 percent of Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4th, which he said would be a true Independence Day against the debilitating, lethal coronavirus that has so crippled the economy and society, He has made it as easy as possible and the vaccine available everywhere – organizing free lifts, employer paid leave, child care, while state governments and companies have come up with incentives, ranging from free beer or baseball tickets to a million dollar lottery prize © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden announced June would be a National Month of Action to mobilize an all-of-America sprint to get 70% of U.S. adults at least one shot by July 4th, so that more people can get the protection they need to be safe from a pandemic that has taken the lives of nearly 600,000 Americans.  July 4th, he said, would be a true Day of Independence against this debilitating, lethal virus.

Throughout the month, national organizations, local government leaders, community-based and faith-based partners, businesses, employers, social media influencers, celebrities, athletes, colleges, young people, and thousands of volunteers across the nation will work together to get their communities vaccinated. 

The President announced a slew of actions that will make it even easier to get vaccinated, mobilize the country around vaccine outreach and education efforts,and incentivize vaccination. Additionally, organizations and businesses from across the country continue to step up and respond to the President’s call to action.

Thanks to the President’s whole-of-government response, the U.S. has made significant progress in its fight against the pandemic since the President took office less than 5 months ago. Already, 63% of adult Americans have gotten vaccinated, including 73% of Americans age 40 and over, and COVID-19 cases and deaths have plummeted as a result – cases are down over 90% and deaths are down over 85% since January 20th. 

Twelve states have already given at least one shot to 70% of adults and more than 28 states and D.C. have fully vaccinated 50% or more of their adult populations, but millions of Americans still need protection against the virus.
 
Organizations and business from across the country have stepped up and responded to the President’s call to action. 

The National Month of Action will include the following initiatives:
 
MAKING IT EASIER TO GET VACCINATED AND ADVANCING EQUITY
 

  • Free child care for individuals getting vaccinated: Four of the nation’s largest child care providers will offer free child care to all parents and caregivers getting vaccinated or recovering from vaccination from now until July 4th. KinderCare and Learning Care Group locations across the country will offer free, drop-in appointments to any parent or caregiver who needs support to get vaccinated or recover from vaccination, and more than 500 YMCAs in nearly every state will offer drop-in care during vaccination appointments. Bright Horizons will also provide free child care to support the vaccination of over 10 million workers employed at participating organizations. The vaccine is free for everyone, however, many unvaccinated Americans report concern about the potential ripple expenses of getting vaccinated, such as having to pay for child care.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is also issuing new guidance that encourages states to use child care funding from the American Rescue Plan to provide financial incentives to neighborhood- and home-based child care providers who join the President’s call to action and support their communities in getting vaccinated. Visit Vaccines.gov/incentives.html to learn more.
     
  • Extended hours at pharmacies across the country in June to offer more flexible appointment availability: Starting next week, thousands of pharmacies nationwide will stay open late every Friday in June, and offer services throughout the night to make sure Americans can get their shot. These extended hours will ensure that those with less flexible work hours have the opportunity to get vaccinated at times convenient to them. Participating pharmacy chains include Albertsons, CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens.

 
MOBILIZING THE COUNTRY TO DO MORE VACCINATION EDUCATION AND OUTREACH:

  • Community Canvassing, Phone Banking, Text Banking, and Vaccination Events: The Administration’s organizing efforts will focus on what we know works best to ensure everyone has equitable vaccine access: person-to-person action that connects people with key resources and information like Vaccines.gov, text 4-3-8-8-2-9, the National COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline (1-800-232-0233), and more. The Month of Action will include calls and texts to people in areas with low vaccination rates and canvasses in neighborhoods close to walk-in clinics where people can get vaccinated on the spot. More than 100 organizations have already committed to host over 1,000 events the first weekend alone, with thousands of additional events to take place over the course of the month. The President will call on Americans to take at least five actions to help their communities during the Month of Action, and some volunteers may be invited to visit the White House in July. Americans can visit WeCanDoThis.hhs.gov to learn more and sign up to help their communities get vaccinated.
     
  • “We Can Do This” National Vaccination Tour: The President will announce the Vice President will lead a nation-wide tour to reach millions of Americans who still need protection against the virus, to highlight the ease of getting vaccinated, encourage vaccinations, and energize and mobilize grassroots vaccine education and outreach efforts. The Vice President’s travel will be anchored in the South, and the First Lady, the Second Gentleman, and members of the Cabinet will also join the Administration’s tour to communities across the country.
     
  • Mayors Challenge to Increase Vaccination Rates in Cities Across America: Mayors across the country are stepping up to help in this effort by launching the “Mayors Challenge,” a competition to see which city can grow its vaccination rate the most by July 4th. Participating mayors commit to taking actions throughout the month to boost vaccinations, such as coordinated canvassing efforts, partnerships with local businesses, and incentives for local residents. The Administration has created a toolkit for mayors and local leaders, and will help recognize the winning cities later this year. More than 50 mayors of cities in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, and, as well as D.C., have already signed up the challenge, which is being run in collaboration with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
     
  • Shots at the Shop – A New Initiative to Engage Black-Owned Barbershops and Beauty Salons: The President will announce the Administration is teaming up with the Black Coalition Against COVID, the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity, and SheaMoisture to launch “Shots at the Shop,” an initiative that will engage Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons across the country to support local vaccine education and outreach efforts. Throughout the month of June, each participating shop will engage customers with information about the vaccines, display educational materials, and host on-site vaccination events in partnership with local providers. The “Shots at the Shop” initiative will invite participation from across the country, with a particular focus on supporting shops in some of the hardest-hit localities still experiencing significant gaps in vaccination rates.
     
  • Blanketing Local TV and Radio and Social Media to Get Americans the Facts and Answer Their Questions: The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), representing more than 7,000 TV and radio stations across the country, will have local station members participate in the National Month of Action. NAB members will be airing vaccine education segments in their programming featuring trusted voices from the community, as well as medical professionals from leading medical associations across the country, including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American Hospital Association, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and Primary Care Collaborative. Medical experts will have the opportunity to share information on benefits of vaccination, address questions and concerns, and publicize where individuals in the community can get vaccinated. And, the Administration will continue deploying medical experts, public health leaders, and Cabinet officials through a whole-of-government approach to communicate directly with Americans, including by working with social media platforms and engaging celebrities and influencers to reach people where they are.
     
  • COVID-19 College Challenge: The Administration is launching the COVID-19 College Challenge, where colleges and universities can take a pledge and commit to taking action to get their students and communities vaccinated by going to WhiteHouse.gov/COVIDCollegeChallenge and signing up. As part of the challenge, the Administration will provide resources like training sessions, toolkits, and educational material to assist colleges and universities in vaccination efforts; facilitate on-site vaccinations at schools; and launch a student corps within the COVID-19 Community Corps to recognize and activate students across the country who are taking extraordinary efforts to draw young people out to get vaccinated and engage the youth community. More than 200 colleges in 43 states have already taken the pledge and committed to the COVID-19 College Challenge. This challenge builds on the Administration’s work to facilitate partnerships between more than 60 community colleges and pharmacies in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program to provide pop-up vaccination clinics at high-enrollment community colleges between now and July 4th.

 
INCENTIVIZING VACCINATION
 
Business Incentives for Vaccinated Americans: Thousands of employers and businesses have already stepped up to support vaccination efforts, including by offering incentives for vaccinations and providing their workers paid-leave for vaccinations. During the Month of Action, the Administration will continue working with employers to make it even easier to set up workplace vaccination clinics, and call on more businesses to encourage and incentivize vaccinations.
 
Starting today, Americans will be able to find a list of these and other incentives on Vaccines.gov/incentives.html. Examples of new private sector actions and incentives that recently launched include:

  • Anheuser-Busch will give away free beer to all adults over the age of 21 in America on July 4th to celebrate the country’s progress against COVID.
     
  • CVS launched a sweepstakes for vaccinated people to win free cruises, tickets to Super Bowl LVI, and cash prizes.
     
  • Door Dash will give $2 million in gift cards to the National Association of Community Health Centers to incentivize vaccinations.
     
  • Major League Baseball teams will offer on-site vaccinations at games and give free tickets to those who get vaccinated.
     
  • Microsoft will give away thousands of Xboxes to Boys and Girls Clubs in hard-hit areas who will run promotions and educational seminars about the importance of vaccinations in hard-hit and hard-to-reach communities.
     
  • Kroger launched a “Community Immunity” program to give $1 million to a vaccinated person every week in June and give dozens of vaccinated Americans free groceries for a year.
     

United Airlines launched the “Your Shot to Fly” Sweepstakes for Mileage Plus members to win a year of free flights or a roundtrip for two in any class of service.

Dating Apps Answer White House Call to Action, Launch New Efforts to Encourage COVID Vaccinations

Okay to date again! In support of President Biden’s goal of getting 70 percent of adults at least one shot by July 4, the largest dating apps in America – Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, and Badoo – are launching new features and incentives to encourage Americans to get vaccinated. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, and Badoo to create badges displaying vaccination status and offer vaccinated Americans free premium benefits

In support of President Biden’s goal of getting 70 percent of adults at least one shot by July 4, the largest dating apps in America will launch new features to encourage Americans to get vaccinated. These companies join organizations across the country that have answered the President’s call by stepping up and offering incentives and information to help Americans get vaccinated. 

Today, dating apps are announcing that they will offer a variety of features such as:

  • Badges showing vaccination status
  • Access to free premium content like boosts, super likes, and super swipes for vaccinated people
  • In-app promotions and links to vaccines.gov or the text code for users
  • Filters so individuals can see individuals who have been vaccinated

According to research from OKCupid, people who are vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated receive 14% more Matches than people who don’t plan to get vaccinated. Specific actions by dating apps will launch over the next several weeks, including:

  • Tinder: Members will be able to add stickers to their profile including “I’m Vaccinated” or “Vaccines Save Lives.” And vaccinated users will have access to free premium content like a “Super Like” to help them stand out among potential matches. Tinder will also launch a “Vaccine Center” with a suite of resources to education and connect users with their nearest vaccination site. Tinder is the world’s biggest non-gaming app.
  • OkCupid: Daters will be able toadd an “I’m Vaccinated” profile badge and be featured within OkCupid’s “Vaccinated Stacks,” a new matching system that lets users search by vaccination status. Vaccinated people will also receive a free “Boost” to move their profile to the front of a daters’ stack. The campaign will begin on May 24 and will continue to help daters “Match on What Matters.”
  • Bumble and Badoo will enable all U.S. customers to add a “vaccinated” badge to their profiles. In addition, Bumble and Badoo will give vaccinated users complimentary credits for premium features such as Spotlight and Superswipes across both apps. The apps will also leverage their network of influencers to amplify the need to get vaccinated as part of a push this summer.
  • BLK will add a new “Vaxified” profile badge for singles to show their support in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. When vaccinated individuals add the badge to their profile, they will receive a free “Boost” on the app to be one of the first profiles seen by potential matches. The features will launch on June 1. BLK is the largest dating app made for Black singles.
  • Chispa will add a new “Vacunado” profile badge for Latinx singles to show their support for ending the pandemic. Vaccinated individuals who add the badge will get a free “Boost,” making them one of the first profiles to be seen by their matches. The feature will be available starting June 1. Chispa is the largest dating app for Latino singles in English and Spanish.
  • Hinge: Hinge will encourage users to share their vaccination status on their profile and give vaccinated users a free “Rose,” which is premium content that indicates to other users that they’re especially excited to get to know them. As the dating app “designed to be deleted,” Hinge is focused on helping its community get back out on dates and in safe relationships.
  • Match: Members will have the option to add a new “Vaccinated” badge to their profile to display their vaccine status, with vaccinated Americans getting access to a free “Boost” to help them stand out on the app.
  • Plenty of Fish: Members will be able to add an “I Got My Shot” badge to their profiles in early June. Those who participate will receive 20 Live! credits to use on the Plenty of Fish Live! streaming feature. In the spirit of Plenty of Fish’s mission to create low pressure dating experiences, this campaign will provide members with one less question to ask so they can start building meaningful connections.

More than 60% of U.S. adults have gotten at least one vaccine shot. It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated, with more than 80,000 locations with vaccines and 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a vaccine. Find out more about where to get vaccinated by visiting Vaccines.gov or texting their zip code 438829.

Biden Administration to Invest $7 Billion to Hire Public Health Workers, Rebuild Public Health Departments

Funding Will Create Tens of Thousands of Jobs to Respond to COVID-19, Prepare U.S. for Future Outbreaks, and Support Local Public Health Officials
 
As Vaccine for Adolescents Comes Online, Administration Sets Aside Dedicated Funding for School Nurses, Who Can Help Provide Information about Vaccinations

 

The Biden-Harris Administration will invest $7.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan to recruit and hire public health workers to respond to the pandemic and prepare for future public health challenges. The funding will allow the United States to expand its public health workforce, creating tens of thousands of jobs to support vaccinations, testing, contact tracing, and community outreach, and strengthen America’s future public health infrastructure. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Even as the CDC is lifting mask and social-distancing requirements for fully vaccinated people, the Biden Administration is looking to the long-term health of the nation, our ability to get through COVID-19, but also be well positioned for the next pandemic or public health crisis. The Biden-Harris Administration announced it would invest $7.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan to recruit and hire public health workers and also redress the fact that over the past several decades, public health departments have been hollowed out. The White House provided this fact sheet:

As part of its ongoing COVID-19 response efforts, the Biden-Harris Administration will invest $7.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan to recruit and hire public health workers to respond to the pandemic and prepare for future public health challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced that public health workers are essential, providing critical services to keep Americans safe and healthy. The funding announced today will allow the United States to expand its public health workforce, creating tens of thousands of jobs to support vaccinations, testing, contact tracing, and community outreach, and strengthen America’s future public health infrastructure.
 
The Biden-Harris Administration will invest $4.4 billion to allow states and localities to expand their over-stretched public health departments with additional staff to support COVID-19 response efforts. This funding will support a range of public health roles, including funding for Disease Intervention Specialists to do contact tracing, case management, and support outbreak investigations, and dedicated funding to hire school nurses to help schools safely reopen and remain open for in-person instruction. Additionally, funds will support the development of the next generation of public health leaders by creating a Public Health AmeriCorps and expanding CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service – the renowned program that equips workers to identify and contain public health outbreaks.
 
Finally, CDC will use $3 billion from the American Rescue Plan to create a new grant program that will facilitate federal investment in the people and expertise needed at the state and local levels to expand, train, and modernize the public health workforce for the future. In the months ahead, CDC will work with leaders from across the public health community to design this new grant program.
 
All awardees of this American Rescue Plan funding will be asked to prioritize recruiting individuals from the communities they will serve and from backgrounds underrepresented in critical public health professions.
 
Today’s funding builds on the President’s announcement last week of $250 million to help community -based organizations hire and mobilize community outreach workers and social support specialists to increase access to vaccinations in the hardest-hit and highest risk communities. 
 
The Biden-Harris Administration will:
 
Invest $4.4 Billion to Surge Public Health Staffing for COVID-19 Response
 
Help States and Localities Increase their Public Health Staffing and Expertise:  State and local public health heroes have led the fight against COVID-19 for more than a year. Often understaffed and lacking resources, local public health departments have provided critical services during the pandemic, including setting up testing sites, leading local vaccination efforts, and delivering personal protective equipment, therapeutics, and care to those in need. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, CDC will fund $3.4 billion in new hiring for state and local public health departments to quickly add staff to support critical COVID-19 response efforts – including vaccination outreach and administration efforts, testing and contact tracing, epidemiologists, data scientists, and other vital public health functions. This funding includes at least $500 million for the hiring of school nurses, who can offer medical expertise to support parents and teens as vaccination options for younger people expand. This builds on resources in the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund which can also be used to hire school nurses.
 
Launch Public Health AmeriCorps: At a time of unprecedented interest in public health, CDC and AmeriCorps (the Corporation for National and Community Service) will launch the Public Health AmeriCorps – a $400 million investment from the American Rescue Plan to recruit and build a new workforce ready to respond to the public health needs of the nation. The program will focus on building a diverse pipeline for the public health workforce and providing direct service to communities across the country. The partnership will leverage the expertise of both agencies, capitalizing on AmeriCorps’ experience managing some of the most prominent public service and workforce development programs in the nation while benefitting from CDC’s technical expertise as the country’s leading public health agency.
 
Recruit and Train Public Health Leaders: CDC will expand its current workforce programs, including the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS). EIS is a national, deployable, cutting-edge public health workforce that responds to local outbreaks. Over the past seven decades, EIS officers have served as boots-on-the-ground epidemiologists during some of the most severe outbreaks and public health emergencies, including the Ebola outbreak, H1N1, the Flint water crisis, Zika, and the COVID-19 pandemic. With $245 million from the American Rescue Plan, CDC will increase support for programs including EIS, the Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program, and the Dr. James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases RISE Fellowship, which offers students from underrepresented background the opportunity to study infectious diseases and health disparities. Expanding these programs will support workforce diversity in public health to help reduce longstanding health disparities and inequities. In addition, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will invest $80 million to train public health professionals to help modernize the public health data infrastructure, with a focus on recruiting from minority serving institutions and universities.
 
Building the Laboratory Workforce and Building Capacity for Future Outbreaks: With $337 million from the American Rescue Plan, CDC will strengthen the public health laboratory workforce pipeline. CDC will expand the current public health laboratory fellowship programs for laboratory science graduates and implement a new public health internship program for undergraduate students to gain experiences in public health laboratory settings. Funds will improve the capacity of the nation’s public-private clinical laboratory infrastructure to support rapid, large-scale responses to public health emergencies.
 
Invest $3 Billion to Prepare for Future Pandemics
 
Create a New Program to Modernize the Public Health Workforce: CDC will create a new grant program to provide under-resourced health departments with the support they need to hire staff and build a strong public health workforce. This grant program will offer community health workers and others hired for the COVID-19 response an opportunity to continue their careers beyond the pandemic as public health professionals. CDC will convene federal, state, local, and territorial public health experts to inform the design and focus of this new grant program. Ultimately, the program will allow the United States to continue to support the nation’s public health infrastructure, particularly in lower-income and underserved communities.

NY, NJ, CT Lift Most Capacity COVID19 Restrictions on Businesses, Gatherings & Venues Starting May 19 Citing Vaccination Progress

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Governors cite the success of vaccination programs and decline in COVID-19 case rates to lift most industry capacity restrictions, beginning May 19 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to Lift Most Industry Capacity Restrictions Beginning May 19 Given Vaccination Progress and COVID-19 Case Decline

Business Capacity Limits to Be Replaced with Space Available to Maintain Six Feet of Social Distancing on May 19 in New York and New Jersey

Outdoor Social Gathering Limit Increases to 500 on May 10 in New York; Indoor Social Gathering Limit Increases to 250 on May 19 in New York

Outdoor Residential Gathering Limit is Removed and Indoor Residential Gathering Limit Increases to 50 on May 19 in New York

Large-Scale Indoor Venue Capacity Increases to 30% and Large-Scale Outdoor Venue Capacity Increases to 33% on May 19, Proof of Vaccination or Recent Negative Test Still Required in New York

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont today announced a significant easing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on the region’s businesses, venues and gatherings given significant progress in vaccinations and sustained reduction in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

“The tide is turning against COVID-19 in New York, and thanks to our increasing vaccination rates, as well as our successful, data-based regional approach, we’re able to take more steps to reopen our economy, help businesses and workers, and keep moving towards returning to normal,” Governor Cuomo said. “Thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers and our partners in government, we are now able to increase capacity limits for businesses, event venues and residences to reflect what we’re seeing in the COVID data. Maintaining this progress is critical and in order to keep moving in a positive direction, New Yorkers must continue to take all the proper precautions. If we let up now, we could slide backwards and that is something nobody wants. So, let’s be safe and for anyone who has yet to be vaccinated, please do so as soon as you can. With the addition of walk-in appointments, we’ve made it as easy as every to get your shot, so there are truly no excuses.”

Governor Phil Murphy said,”With our COVID-19 numbers, particularly hospitalizations, trending decisively in the right direction and our vaccination goals within reach, now is the time to take major steps to reopen our economy and loosen both indoor and outdoor gathering and capacity restrictions. We’ve done this the right way, in partnership with our neighboring states of New York and Connecticut, and by allowing data, science, and public health to guide our decision-making. Over these next few weeks, I encourage all remaining eligible New Jerseyans to get vaccinated so we can continue fighting back against this virus and move toward a ‘new normal’ for ourselves, our neighbors, and our loved ones.”

Governor Ned Lamont said, “Our region has led by example since the beginning of the pandemic, taking the virus seriously and working collaboratively across state lines to the benefit of all of our residents. We were able announce the elimination of business restrictions due to a nation-leading vaccine distribution program which benefits all Connecticut residents, and our neighbors in New York and New Jersey.”

New York and New Jersey Announce Today:

Social Distance-based Business Capacities

Effective May 19, most business capacities—which are currently based upon percentage of maximum occupancy—will be removed in New York and New Jersey. Businesses will only be limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the required social distance of 6 feet. This new distance-based maximum capacity will apply across commercial settings, including retail, food services, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services, among other settings. It will also apply in houses of worship.

Increase in Social and Residential Gathering Limits

In New York beginning May 10, the outdoor social gathering limit will increase from 200 to 500 people. Beginning May 19, the indoor social gathering limit will increase from 100 to 250 people. Also, the outdoor residential gathering limit of 25 people will be removed, reverting to the social gathering limit of 500 people with space for appropriate social distancing, and the indoor residential gathering limit will increase from 10 to 50 people. In New York, any event gatherings in excess of the social gathering limits may only occur if all individuals present proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result.

Event Venues

Congregate commercial and social events in New York—such as those at venues that host sports competitions, performing arts and live entertainment, and catered receptions—can exceed the social gathering limits of 500 people outdoors or 250 people indoors if all attendees over the age of four present either proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result and the required social distancing can be accommodated. 

Starting May 19, large-scale indoor event venues will operate at 30 percent capacity, which is an increase from the current 10 percent capacity limit. Large-scale outdoor event venues will operate at 33 percent. Social distancing, masks, and other applicable health protocols will still apply, including the requirement of attendee proof of full vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test result.

Industry Reopening Requirements

While most industry capacity restrictions will be lifted, industry-specific requirements will remain in effect for a longer period of time, including state or local health authority event notification, health screening, contact information for tracing, enhanced air handling and building system standards, hand hygiene, and environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols. The State will continue to provide additional guidance on these provisions as they apply to each industry.

Today’s announcement builds on Governor Cuomo’s recent measures to further reopen the economy amid a steady decline in New York’s COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization rates. On April 30, Governor Cuomo announced that New York City indoor dining will expand to 75 percent capacity beginning May 7, bringing New York City in line with the rest of New York. The Governor also announced that hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services will expand to 75 percent capacity beginning May 7. New York City gyms and fitness centers will expand to 50 percent capacity beginning May 15. On April 28, Governor Cuomo announced that the food and beverage service, and catered event, curfews would end this month.

Connecticut Previously Announced:

  • Starting May 1: The elimination of outdoor restrictions including limits on table sizes, and the requirement that food be served with alcohol
  • Starting May 19: The elimination of all remaining business restrictions including those on capacity limits at large event venues in the state
     

In addition, Governor Cuomo announced that the New York City Subway will resume 24 hour a day service beginning May 17. In April, MTA New York City Transit officials announced 2,009,025 trips were recorded on the subway on April 8, the first time that more than two million trips were taken on the subway since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. The MTA will continue its unprecedented disinfection and cleaning effort. More than 75 percent of MTA customers agree the subway has never been cleaner. The resumption of 24-hour service will coincide with the Governor’s announcement lifting the 12 a.m. food and beverage service curfew for outdoor dining areas.