Category Archives: Coronavirus Pandemic

Biden Announces New Steps to Increase Vaccine Supply of Vaccine

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

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

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

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

Here is more from the Biden administration:

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

Biden Takes Aggressive, Immediate Action to Contain COVID-19 Crisis

The President Releases National COVID-19 Strategy and Signs Executive Actions to Expand Testing, Administer Vaccines, Advance Racial Equity, and Safely Reopen Schools and Businesses

 

President Joe Biden released the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness — a comprehensive, 198-page roadmap to guide America out of this pandemic. To jumpstart this strategy, he signed 10 Executive Orders and other directives to move quickly to contain the COVID-19 crisis by expanding testing, administering vaccines, advancing racial equity, and safely reopening schools and businesses © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, on his first full day in the White House, President Joe Biden released the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness — a comprehensive, 198-page roadmap to guide America out of this pandemic. To jumpstart this strategy, he signed 10 Executive Orders and other directives and took additional actions to move quickly to contain the COVID-19 crisis by expanding testing, administering vaccines, advancing racial equity, and safely reopening schools and businesses. These steps build on actions President Biden took yesterday to rejoin the World Health Organization, encourage masking, and to create his White House COVID-19 Response Team.
 
Here are more details on the steps that President Biden took today to immediately put his National Strategy into action.
 
IMMEDIATELY EXPAND EMERGENCY RELIEF AND EXERCISE THE DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT (DPA)
 
Manufacture and Deliver Supplies for Vaccination, Testing, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
 President Biden is taking immediate action to fill supply shortfalls for vaccination supplies, testing supplies, and PPE, and to ensure that these critical supplies equitably reach American communities, especially communities of color and other underserved communities hit hardest by the virus. The President will issue an Executive Order directing relevant agencies to exercise all appropriate authorities, including the DPA, to accelerate manufacturing, delivery, and administration to meet shortfalls in equipment and supplies needed for the COVID-19 response, beginning with action to increase the availability of critical supplies such as N95 masks, isolation gowns, nitrile gloves, PCR sample collection swabs, test reagents, pipette tips, laboratory analysis machines for PCR tests, high-absorbency foam swabs, nitrocellulose material for rapid antigen tests, rapid test kits, and all the necessary equipment and material to accelerate the manufacture, delivery, and administration of COVID-19 vaccine.
 
Reimburse States So They Can Deploy the Emergency Personnel and Supplies Americans Need
The President will issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to increase federal reimbursement to states and Tribes from 75 percent to 100 percent of the cost for National Guard personnel and emergency supplies, such as PPE, cleaning and sanitizing efforts, and the personnel and equipment needed to create vaccination centers. The order also includes restoring full reimbursement for eligible costs necessary to support safe school reopening through the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund. To help address the health and financial crises faced by Tribal Nations throughout our country and to advance Tribal sovereignty in our COVID-19 response, this Memorandum also expands FEMA resources for Tribal governments.
 
MITIGATE SPREAD THROUGH EXPANDING TESTING, TREATMENT, AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH WORKFORCE, AND ESTABLISHING CLEAR PUBLIC HEALTH STANDARDS
 
Establish the Pandemic Testing Board, Expand Testing, and Strengthen the Public Health Workforce
To control the COVID-19 pandemic and safely reopen schools and businesses, the U.S. must have wide-spread testing. President Biden will issue an Executive Order that establishes the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board to bring the full force of the federal government’s expertise to expanding testing supply and increasing access to testing. The federal government will increase testing capacity by directing the use of the DPA and other authorities to procure more tests and expand manufacturing capacity where possible. The Executive Order will promote surge capacity for testing in the United States, onshore test manufacturing, expand the public health workforce, support COVID-19 screening for schools, and ensure that underserved communities, including communities of color, can equitably access tests.
 
Bolster Access to COVID-19 Treatments and Clinical Care
Effective treatments for COVID-19 are critical to saving lives. President Biden will sign an Executive Order directing studies, including large-scale randomized trials, to identify treatments for COVID-19 and to ensure that such studies address the needs of diverse populations. The Executive Order establishes a comprehensive, integrated, equitable, and coordinated preclinical drug discovery and development program to allow therapeutics to be evaluated and developed in response to pandemic threats. The Order also outlines steps to improve clinical care, provide assistance to long-term care facilities and intermediate care facilities for people with disabilities, increase health care workforce capacity, expand access to programs designed to meet long-term health needs of patients recovering from COVID-19, and support access to safe and effective COVID-19 therapies for those without coverage.
 
Improve Data to Combat COVID-19
Metrics and metric-driven public health guidance will be essential to controlling the pandemic. President Biden’s Executive Order will enhance the United States’ collection, production, sharing, and analysis of data to support an equitable COVID-19 response and recovery. The federal government will work with state, local, Tribal and territorial governments to aggregate and analyze data to track access to vaccines and testing, reopen schools and businesses, and address disparities in COVID-19 infections and health outcomes. And, the federal government will create publicly available dashboards with national and state-by-state level information, consistent with privacy protections,  on cases, testing, vaccinations, and hospital admissions to make real-time information available to policymakers and the public.
 
MOUNT A SAFE, EFFECTIVE, COMPREHENSIVE VACCINATION CAMPAIGN
 
Take Immediate Actions to Convert Vaccines into Vaccinations
The Biden-Harris Administration will spare no effort to ensure the public can get vaccinated safely, effectively and equitably. To meet the aggressive vaccination target of 100 million shots by the end of his first 100 days in office, President Biden will take immediate action to improve the vaccination program. Yesterday, he directed FEMA to begin standing up the first federally-supported community vaccination centers, with the goal of standing up 100 centers in the next month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also launch the federal pharmacy program — making vaccines available to communities in their local pharmacies beginning next month. And, he tasked the U.S. Public Health Services Commissioned Corps with expanding its workforce and preparing for deployment. Central to this effort will be expanded support and collaboration with state, local, Tribal and territorial governments, including the establishment of COVID Response Liaisons for each state — a model based on the response to Hurricane Sandy.
 
SAFELY REOPEN SCHOOLS, BUSINESSES, AND TRAVEL WHILE PROTECTING OUR WORKERS
 
Direct Action to Support Students & Safely Reopen Schools
President Biden will issue an Executive Order directing the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide guidance on safe reopening and operating for schools, child care providers, and institutions of higher education. Ensuring the safety of students and educators and adherence to science will be paramount. And, the Order directs the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to collect data around reopening and school closures so state and local officials have metrics to inform decision-making and can better understand the impact of closures on students from families with low-incomes, students of color, English-language learners, students with disabilities and others.
 
The COVID-19 Response Team will work to ensure that testing materials, support for contact tracing, and vaccinations for teachers are equitably provided to support in-person care and learning. Finally, the order encourages the Federal Communications Commission to increase connectivity options for students lacking reliable home broadband, so that they can continue to learn if their schools are operating remotely.
 
This work will be supported by the Presidential Memorandum directing FEMA to offer reimbursement for eligible emergency supplies, such as PPE for schools and child care providers.
 
The Administration will engage with educators and their unions, students and their families, state and local education and public health officials, civil rights advocates, and other experts in the field. And, the Department of Education will work with HHS to ensure that guidance for schools is updated based on the latest science and any developments in the pandemic, including the spread of new coronavirus variants that may have a higher transmission rate. The Administration will always be honest about the challenges we face, directly addressing how and whether changes in the pandemic may impact the reopening of schools or the ability of schools to remain open.
 
Help Protect Workers from COVID-19
Millions of Americans, many of whom are people of color, immigrants, and low-wage workers, continue to put their lives on the line to keep the country functioning through the pandemic. President Biden will sign an Executive Order calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to immediately release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure. It also asks OSHA and Mine Safety and Health Administration to determine whether to establish emergency temporary standards that require employers to take steps to keep workers safe from COVID-19 and it directs OSHA to enforce worker health and safety requirements, targeting the worst violators. With the goal of protecting all workers from COVID-19, the order instructs agencies to explore ways to protect workers who are not always covered by OSHA standards, such as those who are self-employed.

Promote Safe Travel
To protect travelers from COVID-19, President Biden will issue an Executive Order to require mask-wearing in airports, on certain modes of public transportation, including many trains, airplanes, maritime vessels, and intercity buses. For air travel, this Executive Order also requires international travelers to produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to departing for the United States and to comply with CDC guidelines for self-isolation and self-quarantine upon arrival. The Executive Order also calls for the consideration of additional public health measures in domestic travel and for consultation with foreign governments and other stakeholders to implement public health measures for safe travel, including at land and sea borders.
 
PROTECT THOSE MOST AT RISK AND ADDRESS INEQUITIES FACED BY COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND OTHER UNDERSERVED GROUPS
 
Advance Health Equity in the Nation’s COVID-19 Response
In order to address the disproportionate and severe impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and other underserved populations, President Biden will issue an Executive Order to ensure an equitable pandemic response and recovery. The order establishes a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to provide specific recommendations to the President for allocating resources and funding in communities with inequities in COVID-19 outcomes by race, ethnicity, geography, disability, and other considerations. The federal government will expand equity data collection; increase access to PPE, testing, therapies, and vaccines in underserved communities and high-risk settings; and assess and update pandemic response plans to ensure equity. The health workforce, including community-based workers, will be expanded to assist with contact tracing, vaccination, and linkage to care. Additionally, the Biden Administration will work with states, local jurisdictions, Tribal communities, and territories to address unmet basic needs, including food, housing, and childcare, for individuals and families affected by COVID-19.
 
RESTORE U.S. GLOBAL LEADERSHIP AND BUILD BETTER PREPAREDNESS
 
Advance U.S. Global Leadership, Support the Health and Humanitarian Response to COVID-19, and Protect Against Future Biological Threats
America’s withdrawal from the world stage and retreat from the World Health Organization has impeded progress on the global COVID-19 response and left the United States and the world more vulnerable to future pandemics. Yesterday, President Biden signed letters to the United Nations Secretary General and World Health Organization Director General to cease America’s withdrawal from the organization and to outline U.S. intent to work constructively with the WHO to strengthen and reform it.
Today, President Biden will sign a Presidential Directive to restore America’s leadership, support the international pandemic response effort, promote resilience for future threats, and advance global health security and the Global Health Security Agenda. This directive restores U.S. leadership and seeks to support the international health and humanitarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its secondary impacts, global health security and diplomacy, and better biopreparedness and resilience for emerging and future biological threats.
 
RACIAL EQUITY IMPACT
 
The COVID-19 crisis has shined a light on and exacerbated the persistent racial inequities in our healthcare system and our economy. Americans of color are being infected and dying from COVID-19 at higher rates, while workers of color disproportionately put themselves at risk of exposure to COVID-19 on the frontline of this crisis to keep our country running. Changing the course of the COVID-19 crisis requires mobilizing an equitable response across the whole of our government. The new  COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force will intensely focus on these issues. The actions to  expand the availability of testing and vaccines in communities of color, and other underserved communities, ensure that new clinical treatments are developed to serve diverse Americans, and safely reopen our schools so that children who are facing disproportionately high risks of learning loss can get back into the classroom. These actions will also support Native communities and Tribal governments to address the health and economic crises in Indian country.
 
WORKER IMPACT
 
These executive actions will help keep millions of workers healthy and safe from COVID-19. They direct agencies to provide new guidance so that employers and schools know what they need to do to keep workers safe. They’ll increase access to personal protective equipment, testing, and vaccines that will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces across the country. They’ll help ensure more people are wearing masks when they travel, immediately providing more protection to many airline workers, bus drivers, and other transportation workers, and providing Americans safe ways to travel to work.
 
With the support of funding from the President’s American Rescue Package, the President’s plan to safely reopen schools will help students engage in in-person learning, parents return to work and prevent more educators from being laid off, as we combat the virus and make schools safe for students and educators again.
 
These measures will help keep workers safe and healthy, get more Americans back to work, and ultimately reduce the spread of the virus.

See: BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IMPLEMENTS A NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE, PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS

Biden Administration Implements a National Strategy for COVID-19 Response, Pandemic Preparedness

Surprise! There wasn’t any Trump Administration plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. And those supplies that were supposedly held in reserve? The jokes on you – there aren’t any. The incoming Biden Administration – locked out of meaningful engagement during the transition – finds it has to basically create a vaccine distribution program almost from scratch, while holding to a goal of administering 100 million doses in the first 100 days. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Surprise! There wasn’t any Trump Administration plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. And those supplies that were supposedly held in reserve? The jokes on you – there aren’t any. The incoming Biden Administration – locked out of meaningful engagement during the transition – finds it has to basically create a vaccine distribution program almost from scratch, while holding to a goal of administering 100 million doses in the first 100 days. As each day continues to post new record numbers of deaths (well over 400,000 now, with as many as 100,000 more deaths by February forecast), hospitalizations choking state’s health care systems, the number of infections soaring over 22 million and new strains that are even more transmissible, Biden’s first Executive Order, signed within minutes of entering the White House, was to require mask-wearing at federal facilities and in interstate commerce, while launching a national, patriotic campaign to mask-up for 100 days. And the first order of business for the Biden Administration has been to introduce, for the first time, a national strategy to get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic that has so devastated lives and livelihoods.

Here it is: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response
and Pandemic Preparedness

January 21, 2021

Executive Summary


We can and will beat COVID-19. America deserves a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is driven by science, data, and public health — not politics. Through the release of the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, the United States is initiating a coordinated pandemic response that not only improves the effectiveness of our fight against COVID-19, but also helps restore trust, accountability and a sense of common purpose in our government.
 
On January 9, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that there were 59 cases of coronavirus-related pneumonia. Just one year later, the United States has experienced over 24 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 400,000 COVID-19 deaths. America has just 4% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases and 20% of all COVID-19 deaths. And our nation continues to experience the darkest days of the pandemic, with record numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Over 77,000 Americans lost their lives to COVID-19 in December, and across our nation businesses are closing, hospitals are full, and families are saying goodbye to their loved ones remotely.
 
The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century. It outlines an actionable plan across the federal government to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including twelve initial executive actions that will be issued by President Biden during his first two days in office:
 
The National Strategy is organized around seven goals:

  1. Restore trust with the American people.
  2. Mount a safe, effective, and comprehensive vaccination campaign.
  3. Mitigate spread through expanding masking, testing, treatments, data, health care workforce, and clear public health standards.
  4. Immediately expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act.
  5. Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel while protecting workers.
  6. Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.
  7. Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness for future threats.

 
To execute on the National Strategy, the White House will establish a COVID-19 Response Office responsible for coordinating the pandemic response across all federal departments and agencies. Through implementation of the National Strategy, the United States will make immediate progress on the seven goals. To monitor outcomes, the National Strategy will establish a data-driven, evidence-based approach to evaluating America’s progress in the fight against COVID-19.
 
The federal government cannot solve this crisis alone. Full implementation of the National Strategy for COVID-19 will require sustained, coordinated, and complementary efforts of the American people, as well as groups across the country, including State, local, territorial, and Tribal governments; health care providers; businesses; manufacturers critical to the supply chain; civic, religious and civil rights organizations; and unions. It will also require a global effort to contain the virus and advance health security.
 
America has always risen to the challenge and we will do so now. In collaboration with the people of this country, the United States government will lead an effective COVID-19 response that gets us back to our lives and loved ones. As we’ve seen during this pandemic, we can’t solve our problems as a divided nation. The only way we come through this is together as fellow Americans and as the United States of America.
 

On the eve of his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden  along with Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Harris and Douglas Emhoff  participated in a memorial honoring the 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19, as 400 lights lit the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. This was the first-ever lighting around the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial. “To heal, we must remember.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Goal 1: Restore trust with the American people.

The federal government should be the source of truth for the public to get clear, accessible, and scientifically accurate information about COVID-19. To rebuild the trust of the American people, the National Strategy will signal clear public leadership and a commitment to a robust whole-of-government response that puts science first. The federal government will be transparent with the American people, maintaining an open line of communication with the public and all stakeholders. To continue to restore trust, the United States will:
 
Establish a national COVID-19 response structure where decision-making is driven by science and equity. The Biden-Harris Administration has developed a unified plan to rebuild expert leadership across the government and regain the trust of the American public. As part of the strategy, on his first day in office, President Biden issued Executive Order Organizing and Mobilizing the U.S. Government to Provide a Unified And Effective Response to Combat COVID-19 and to Provide United States Leadership on Global Health and Security establishing a White House COVID-19 national response structure to coordinate across the U.S. Government and restoring the White House Directorate on Global Health Security and Biodefense established by the Obama-Biden Administration. The COVID-19 Response office will establish clear lines of communications with all governors, state public health officials and immunization managers, and local leaders.
 
Conduct regular expert-led, science-based public briefings. The federal government will conduct regular, expert-led, science-based public briefings and release regular reports on the state of the pandemic. Experts and scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also develop clear, evidence-based, metric-driven public health guidance and effectively and frequently communicate and distribute guidance and updates to the American people.
 
Publicly share data around key response indicators. Metrics and metric-driven public health guidance will be essential to controlling the pandemic. President Biden will issue Executive Order Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High Consequence Public Health Threats directing steps to enhance federal agencies’ collection, production sharing, and analysis of, and collaboration with respect to, data to support an equitable COVID-19 response and recovery. As further detailed in National Strategy Goals Two, Three, and Six, the federal government will track a range of performance measures and data including cases, testing, vaccinations, and hospital admissions, and will make real-time information readily available to the public and to policymakers at the federal, state, and local level. The CDC will also maintain a public dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases at the county level, so that Americans can gauge the level of transmission in their own communities to make their own informed choices.
 
Engage the American people. The federal government cannot solve this crisis alone. It will take regular engagement with the public, state and local leaders, the private sector, unions, community volunteers, and health care providers to guide policy and implementation. The Administration will prioritize outreach to state and local governments, the public and private sectors, vulnerable communities, students, workers, and community leaders, using input from these stakeholders to drive the government’s COVID-19 response.
 
Lead science-first public health campaigns. The Administration will lead world-class public education campaigns — covering topics like masking, testing, vaccinations and vaccine hesitancy — designed with diversity and inclusivity in mind, including communications in multiple languages, to maximize reach and effectiveness. The campaigns will be coordinated, across national, state, and local levels, and engage with the private and public sector. They will be anchored by science and fact-based public health guidance. The Administration will work to counter misinformation and disinformation by ensuring that Americans are obtaining science-based information.
 

Goal 2: Mount a safe, effective, comprehensive vaccination campaign.

The United States will spare no effort to ensure Americans can get vaccinated quickly, effectively, and equitably. The federal government will execute an aggressive vaccination strategy, focusing on the immediate actions necessary to convert vaccines into vaccinations, including improving allocation, distribution, administration, and tracking. Central to this effort will be additional support and funding for state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments — and improved line of sight into supply — to ensure that they are best prepared to mount local vaccination programs. At the same time, the federal government will mount an unprecedented public campaign that builds trust around vaccination and communicates the importance of maintaining public health measures such as masking, physical distancing, testing, and contact tracing even as people receive safe and effective vaccinations. To mount a safe, effective, comprehensive vaccination campaign, the United States will:
 
Ensure the availability of safe, effective vaccines for the American public. The national vaccination effort will be one of the greatest operational challenges America has ever faced. To ensure all Americans can be vaccinated quickly, the President has developed a plan for expanding vaccine manufacturing and purchasing COVID-19 vaccine doses for the U.S. population by fully leveraging contract authorities, including the Defense Production Act; deploying onsite support to monitor contract manufacturing operations; and purchasing additional FDA-authorized vaccines to deliver as quickly as possible. The effort includes prioritizing supplies that could cause bottlenecks, including glass vials, stoppers, syringes, needles, and the “fill and finish” capacity to package vaccine into vials.
 
Accelerate getting shots into arms and get vaccines to the communities that need them most. The success of the national vaccination effort will depend on reaching communities across the United States. To achieve this, the federal government will take a series of steps to simplify and strengthen the allocation and distribution process. In order to expand the supply available to states, the Administration will end the policy of holding back significant levels of doses, instead holding back a small reserve and monitoring supply to ensure that everyone receives the full regimen as recommended by the FDA. The United States will accelerate the pace of vaccinations by encouraging states and localities to move through the priority groups more quickly — expanding access to frontline essential workers and individuals over the age of 65, while staying laser-focused on working to ensure that the highest-risk members of the public, including those in congregate facilities, can access the vaccine where and when they need it. The Administration will also improve the allocation process by providing states and localities with clear, consistent projections to inform their planning. Through it all, the United States will work to ensure that the vaccine is distributed quickly, effectively and equitably, with a focus on making sure that high-risk and hard-to-reach communities are not left behind.
 
Create as many venues as needed for people to be vaccinated. The federal government — in partnership with state and local governments — will create as many venues for vaccination as needed in communities and settings that people trust. This includes, but is not limited to federally run community vaccination centers, in places like stadiums and conference centers, federally-supported state and locally operated vaccination sites in all 50 states and 14 territories,  pharmacies and retail stores, federal facilities like Veterans Affairs hospitals, community health centers, rural health clinics, critical access hospitals, physician offices, health systems, urgent care centers, and mobile and on-site occupational clinics
 
Focus on hard-to-reach and high-risk populations. As the United States accelerates the pace of vaccinations nationwide, we remain focused on building programs to meet the needs of hard-to-reach and high-risk populations, and meeting communities where they are to make vaccinations as accessible and equitable as possible. The federal government will deploy targeted strategies to meet the needs of individuals at increased risk and others who need to take extra precautions, according to the CDC, as well as the communities hardest hit by this pandemic. Local public health officials will play a critical role.
 
Fairly compensate providers, and states and local governments for the cost of administering vaccinations. Fairly compensating providers, and state and local governments for the costs of vaccine administration will be critical to expanding vaccination participation. President Biden will work with Congress to expand the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to 100 percent for vaccinations of Medicaid enrollees—with the goal of alleviating state costs for administration of these vaccines and supporting states in their work to meet the needs of their communities. The Department of Health and Human Services will ask the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to consider whether current payment rates for vaccine administration are appropriate or whether a higher rate may more accurately compensate providers. The federal government will fund vaccine supply and will greatly expand funding for vaccine administration by allowing state and local governments to reimburse vaccination administration expenses through the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund and by ensuring that workforce and equipment expenses for state and local-run sites are also eligible.
 
Drive equity throughout the vaccination campaign and broader pandemic response. The federal government will drive equity in vaccinations by using demographic data to identify  communities hit hardest by the virus and supporting them, ensuring no out-of-pocket costs for vaccinations, and making sure vaccines reach those communities. Working with state, local, and community-based organizations and trusted health care providers, like community health centers, will be central to this effort.
 
Launch a national vaccinations public education campaign. The United States will build public trust through an unprecedented vaccination public health campaign at the federal, State, Tribal, territorial, local and community level. The public education campaign will support vaccination programs, address vaccine hesitancy, help simplify the vaccination process for Americans, and educate the public on effective prevention measures. The campaign will be tailored to meet the needs of diverse communities, get information to trusted, local messengers, and outline efforts to deliver a safe and effective vaccine as part of a national strategy for beating COVID-19.
 
Bolster data systems and transparency for vaccinations. The operational complexity of vaccinating the public will make robust data and its use in decision-making related to vaccinations more important than ever. The federal government, with CDC, will track distribution and vaccination progress, working hand-in-hand with states and localities to support their efforts. The Administration will build on and strengthen the federal government’s approach to data collection related to vaccination efforts, removing impediments and developing communication and technical assistance plans for jurisdictions and providers. The Administration, through HHS and other federal partners, will rely on data to drive decision-making and the national vaccinations program.
 
Monitor vaccine safety and efficacy. The Administration will ensure that scientists are in charge of all decisions related to vaccine safety and efficacy. The FDA will also continue to honor its commitment to make relevant data on vaccine safety and efficacy publicly available and to provide opportunities for public, non-governmental expert input. Through expanded and existing systems, the CDC and FDA will ensure ongoing, real-time safety monitoring. Through it all, the Administration will communicate clearly with the American public to continue to build trust around the vaccine and its benefits for individuals, their families and communities.
 
Surge the health care workforce to support the vaccination effort. A diverse, community-based health care workforce is essential to an effective vaccination program. The United States will address workforce needs by taking steps to allow qualified professionals to administer vaccines and encourage states to leverage their flexibility fully to surge their workforce, including by expanding scope of practice laws and waiving licensing requirements as appropriate.

President Joe Biden’s first Executive Order is to mandate mask-wearing at federal facilities and interstate commerce in order to mitigate the surge in the coronavirus pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Goal 3: Mitigate spread through expanding masking, testing, treatment, data, workforce, and clear public health standards.

A comprehensive national public health effort to control the virus — even after the vaccination program ramps up — will be critical to saving lives and restoring economic activity. The federal government will partner with state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders to implement a cohesive strategy to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 and release clear public health guidance to the public about what to do and when, including implementing mask mandates; expanding testing; strengthening the public health workforce; modernizing data collection and reporting capabilities for COVID-19 and future epidemics; and providing equitable access to treatment and clinical care. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through clear public health standards, the United States will:
 
Implement masking nationwide by working with governors, mayors, and the American people. The President has asked the American people to do what they do best: step up in a time of crisis and wear masks. He has issued Executive Order Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing which directs compliance with CDC guidance on masking and physical distancing in federal buildings, on federal lands, and by federal employees and contractors. Additionally, the President will issue Executive Order Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel which directs applicable agencies to take immediate action to require mask-wearing on some airplanes, trains, and certain other forms of public transportation in the United States. He has called on governors, public health officials, mayors, business leaders, and others to implement masking, physical distancing, and other CDC public measures to control COVID-19.
 
Scale and expand testing. To control the COVID-19 pandemic and safely reopen schools and businesses, America must have wide-spread testing. A national testing strategy is a cornerstone to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and controlling outbreaks, and clear federal guidance and a unified national approach to implementation are essential. The President will issue Executive Order Establishing the National Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats which establishes the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board to oversee implementation of a clear, unified approach to testing. The federal government will expand the rapid testing supply and double test supplies and increase testing capacity. The Administration will also increase onshore test manufacturing, fill testing supply shortfalls, enhance laboratory capacity to conduct testing over the short- and long-term, and expand surveillance for hotspots and variants.
 
Effectively distribute tests and expand access to testing. The federal government will support school screening testing programs to help schools reopen. The Administration will also stand up a dedicated CDC Testing Support Team, fund rapid test acquisition and distribution for priority populations, work to spur development and manufacturing of at-home tests and work to ensure that tests are widely available. Through Executive Order Establishing the National Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats the President will direct agencies to facilitate testing free of charge for those who lack health insurance and to clarify insurers’ obligation to cover testing. The federal government will also provide testing protocols to inform the use of testing in congregate settings, schools, and other critical areas and among asymptomatic individuals. Further, technical assistance will support more widespread adoption of testing to improve timely diagnosis and public confidence in the safety of settings like schools.
 
Prioritize therapeutics and establish a comprehensive, integrated COVID-19 treatment discovery and development program. Effective treatments for COVID-19 are critical to saving lives. The federal government will establish a comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated preclinical drug discovery and development program, with diverse clinical trials, to allow therapeutics to be evaluated and developed rapidly in response to COVID-19 and other pandemic threats. This includes promoting the immediate and rapid development of therapeutics that respond to COVID-19 by developing new antivirals directed against the coronavirus family, accelerating research and support for clinical trials for therapeutics in response to COVID-19 with a focus on those that can be readily scaled and administered, and developing broad-spectrum antivirals to prevent future viral pandemics. President Biden will issue Executive Order Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatment for COVID-19 which also outlines steps to bolster clinical care capacity, provide assistance to long-term care facilities and intermediate care facilities for people with disabilities, increase health care workforce capacity, expand access to programs designed to meet long-term health needs of patients recovering from COVID-19, and support access to safe and effective COVID-19 therapies for those without coverage.
 
Develop actionable, evidence-based public health guidance. CDC will develop and update public health guidance on containment and mitigation that provides metrics for measuring and monitoring the incidence and prevalence of COVID-19 in health care facilities, schools, workplaces, and the general public, including metric-driven reopening guidance that the federal government communicates widely. Informed by up-to-date national and state data, the CDC will provide and update guidance on key issues such as physical distancing protocols, testing, contact tracing, reopening schools and businesses, and masking. The CDC also will provide focused guidance for older Americans and others at higher risk, including people with disabilities. 
 
Expand the U.S. public health workforce and increase clinical care capacity for COVID-19.
In addition to supporting the surge in health care workers for vaccination efforts detailed in Goal Two, the federal government will also build and support an effective public health workforce to fight COVID-19 and the next public health threat. As part of the President’s commitment to provide 100,000 COVID-19 contact tracers, community health workers, and public health nurses, the Administration will establish a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps, provide support for community health workers, and mobilize Americans to support communities most at-risk. The United States will also provide technical support for testing, contact tracing, and other urgent public health workforce needs to better prepare for public health crises.
 
Improve data to guide the response to COVID-19. Federal agencies will make increased use of data to guide the public health response against COVID-19. To that end, Agencies will collect, aggregate, share, and analyze non-personally identifiable data, and take steps to make it publicly available and in a machine-readable form to enhance COVID-19 response efforts. And the federal government will facilitate evidence-based decision-making through focused data-based projects. These efforts will require collaboration with state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments to aggregate and analyze data for critical decisions to track access to vaccines and testing, reopen schools and businesses, address disparities in COVID-19 infections and health outcomes, and enhance critical monitoring capacity where needed. In addition, critical response activities such as workforce mobilization and vaccination appointment scheduling may require new technology solutions. The federal government will provide technical support to ensure that these systems meet mission critical requirements to support a robust response.
 

Goal 4: Immediately expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act.

It’s past time to fix America’s COVID-response supply shortage problems for good. The United States will immediately address urgent supply gaps, which will require monitoring and strengthening supply chains, while also steering the distribution of supplies to areas with the greatest need. As new vaccines, testing protocols, and treatments are developed, they will also need to be manufactured in sufficient supply. To respond to this unprecedented operational challenge, the President is immediately expanding emergency relief by giving state and local governments the support they need. To make vaccines, tests, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and other critical supplies available for the duration of the pandemic, the President has directed the use of all available legal authorities, including the Defense Production Act (DPA), instructing departments and agencies to expand the availability of critical supplies, to increase stockpiles so that PPE is available to be used in the recommended safe manner, and to start to fill all supply shortfalls immediately. To expand emergency relief and strengthen the supply chain, the government will:
 
Increase emergency funding to states and bolster the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response. The President will issue a Presidential Memorandum entitled  Extend Federal Support to Governors’ Use of National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and other Assistance Provided to States, directing FEMA to fully reimburse states for the cost of National Guard personnel and emergency supplies, including emergency supplies like PPE for schools and child care providers.
 
Fill supply shortfalls by invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA). The United States is taking immediate action to fill supply shortfalls for vaccination supplies, testing supplies, and PPE. The President will issue Executive Order A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain which directs agencies to fill supply shortfalls using all available legal authorities, including the DPA, and the United States has identified twelve immediate supply shortfalls that will be critical to the pandemic response, including shortages in the dead-space needle syringes available to administer the vaccine. The President has directed relevant agencies to exercise all appropriate authorities, including the DPA, to accelerate manufacturing, delivery, and administration to meet shortfalls in these twelve categories of critical supplies, including taking action to increase the availability of supplies like N95 masks, isolation gowns, nitrile gloves, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) sample collection swabs, test reagents, pipette tips, laboratory analysis machines for PCR tests, high-absorbency foam swabs, nitrocellulose material for rapid antigen tests, rapid test kits, low dead-space needles and syringes, and all the necessary equipment and material to accelerate the manufacture, delivery, and administration of COVID-19 vaccine.
 
Identify and solve urgent COVID-19 related supply gaps and strengthen the supply chain.The A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain executive order will also direct federal agencies to fill supply shortfalls using all available legal authorities.The federal government will focus on the near-term goal of building a stable, secure, and resilient supply chain with increased domestic manufacturing in four key critical sectors:

  • Antigen and molecular-based testing;
  • PPE and durable medical equipment;
  • Vaccine development and manufacturing; and
  • Therapeutics and key drugs.

 
The federal government will immediately focus on procuring supplies that will be critical to control the spread of COVID-19 by initiating contracts, entering into purchase commitments, making investments to produce supplies and expanding manufacturing capacity.
 
Secure the pandemic supply chain and create a manufacturing base in the United States. To respond more effectively to this crisis, and ensure that the United States is able to respond more quickly and efficiently to the next pandemic, we need a resilient, domestic public health industrial base. The U.S. Government will not only secure supplies for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but also build toward a future, flexible supply chain and expand an American manufacturing capability where the United States is not dependent on other countries in a crisis. To this end, A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain will direct the development of a new Pandemic Supply Chain Resilience Strategy.
 
Improve distribution and expand availability of critical materials. After conducting a review of existing COVID-19 and related pandemic supply chain distribution plans and working in consultation with state and regional compacts, the United States will coordinate distribution plans, prioritizing areas of highest-risk and highest need, and set up a structure to improve the distribution of critical materials. To work toward expanding the affordability and accessibility of supplies, A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain will direct the Department of Defense (DOD), HHS, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop recommendations to address the pricing of COVID-19 supplies. The federal government will also reduce the opacity of the market for critical supplies and supply chains by clearly and rapidly communicating with states, health care providers, and manufacturers about federal interventions.
 

Goal 5: Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel, while protecting workers.

Reopening schools, businesses, travel, and our economy will require major, unified federal investments in rapid testing, an expanded rapid response public health workforce, clear guidance and protections, and support for people to stay home when they are infected to stop the spread of COVID-19. At the same time that the United States takes immediate steps to achieve an overall decrease in COVID-19 spread, it will also support the safe operation of schools, businesses, and travel. To protect workers and safely reopen, schools, businesses, and travel, the United States will:
 
Implement a national strategy to support safely reopening schools. The United States is committed to ensuring that students and educators are able to resume safe, in-person learning as quickly as possible, with the goal of getting a majority of K-8 schools safely open in 100 days. The President will issue Executive Order Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers which directs a national strategy for safely reopening schools, including requiring the Departments of Education and HHS to provide guidance on safe reopening and operating, and to develop a Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse to share lessons learned and best practices from across the country. Presidential Memorandum Extend Federal Support to Governors’ Use of National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and other Assistance Provided to States will restore full reimbursement for eligible costs necessary to support safe school reopening through the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund and the President has called on Congress to provide at least $130 billion in dedicated funding to schools, $350 billion in flexible state and local relief funds that will help districts avoid lay-offs and close budget gaps, and additional resources so that schools can safely reopen, including funds to implement screening testing. The Administration will release a handbook that helps schools and local leaders implement the precautions and strategies necessary for safe reopening. It will also work with states and local school districts to support screening testing in schools, including working with states to ensure an adequate supply of test kits.
 
Support safe operations at child care centers and at-home providers. With enrollments down and costs up due to COVID-19 precautions, child care providers are struggling to stay afloat while providing vital services to their communities. Due to increased costs and lower enrollment, a recent survey of child care providers showed that most child care providers expect that they will close within a few months without relief, or are uncertain how long they can stay open.[1] If not addressed, child care providers will close and millions of parents will be left to make devastating choices between caring for their children and working to put food on the table. President Biden has called on Congress to provide $25 billion in emergency stabilization to support hard-hit child care providers through the pandemic. These funds would help providers pay rent, utilities, and payroll, as well as cover pandemic-related costs like personal protective equipment, ventilation supplies, smaller group sizes, and alterations to physical spaces that improve safety. The President has also called on Congress to provide $15 billion to help families struggling to afford child care.
 
Support equitable reopening and operation in higher education. College enrollment for high school graduates was down more than 20% in 2020 compared to 2019, and students from low-income families are nearly twice as likely to report canceling their plans to attend college. Reopening and keeping colleges open is critical to ensuring that all Americans have a shot at a college credential — but it must be done safely, to protect the health of students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. To support colleges through the pandemic, President Biden has requested that Congress provide an additional $35 billion in emergency stabilization funds for higher education.
 
Protect workers and issue stronger worker safety guidance. It is critical that the federal government protect the health and safety of America’s workers and take swift action to prevent workers from contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. The President will issue Executive Order  Protecting Worker Health and Safety which directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue updated guidance on COVID-19 worker protections. It also directs OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to consider whether emergency temporary standards, including with respect to mask-wearing, are necessary. President Biden is taking steps to cover workers not typically covered by OSHA or MSHA by directing agencies like the Department of Transportation to keep workers safe. He has also called on Congress to extend and expand emergency paid leave; to allow OSHA to issue standards covering a broad set of workers, like many public workers on the frontlines; to provide additional funding for worker health and safety enforcement, and to provide grant funding for organizations to help keep vulnerable workers healthy and safe from COVID-19.  
 
Provide guidance and support to safely open businesses. To maintain safe operations during the pandemic, businesses need to know how to change their practices to protect employees and customers. As the conditions of the pandemic continue to evolve and more Americans get vaccinated, the business community needs clear information from the federal government on what to expect and how to adapt their operations. Many businesses affected by the pandemic–particularly the smallest ones–need additional support to adjust their physical spaces and purchase PPE and supplies. The United States will immediately work to prioritize funds under the recent COVID relief package to the companies hardest hit by COVID-19 and in compliance with public health restrictions, ensuring that small businesses have the funds they need to operate safely. Further, the Small Business Administration will work with the Department of Labor to disseminate updated OSHA guidance on worker safety and support businesses in implementing the updated guidance.
 
Promote Safe Travel. Ensuring that people can safely travel will be critical for families and to jumpstarting the economy, which is why the President will issue an executive order that requires mask-wearing on certain public modes of transportation and at ports of entry to the United States. For international air travel, Executive Order Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel will require a recent negative COVID-19 test result prior to departure and quarantine on arrival, consistent with CDC guidelines. The Executive Order will also direct agencies to develop options for expanding public health measures for domestic travel and cross-border land and sea travel and calls for incentives to support and encourage compliance with CDC guidelines on public transportation.
 

Goal 6: Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated severe and pervasive health inequities among communities defined by race, ethnicity, geography, disability, sexual orientation/gender identity, and other factors. Addressing this pandemic’s devastating toll is both a moral imperative and pragmatic policy. The federal government will address disparities in rates of infection, illness and death.  Each of the goals of this National Strategy include comprehensive actions that will address these disparities and advance equity. In addition, the United States will:
 
Establish the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. The President will issue Executive Order Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery which establishes a high-level task force to address COVID-19 related health and social inequities and help coordinate an equitable pandemic response and recovery. The Task Force will convene national experts on health equity and provide recommendations on how to mitigate COVID-19 health inequities.
 
Increase data collection and reporting for high risk groups. The fragmented and limited availability of data by race, ethnicity, geography, disability and other demographic variables delays recognition of risk and a targeted response. President Biden will issue the Executive Order Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High-Consequence Public Health Threats directing federal agencies to expand their data infrastructure to increase collection and reporting of health data for high risk populations, while reaffirming data privacy. Using these data, the federal government will identify high-risk communities, track resource distribution and evaluate the effectiveness of the response. Finally, HHS will optimize data collection from public and private entities to increase the availability of data by race, ethnicity, geography, disability, and other demographic variables, as feasible.
 
Ensure equitable access to critical COVID-19 PPE, tests, therapies and vaccines. The continued surge of COVID-19 highlights the critical importance of meaningful access to PPE, tests, therapies, and vaccines to prevent spread and reduce illness and death in high-risk populations and settings. The federal government will center equity in its COVID-19 response, providing PPE, tests, vaccines, therapeutics and other resources in a fair and transparent way. A targeted, stakeholder- and data-informed vaccination communication campaign will be launched to encourage vaccination in all communities. Additionally, the CDC will work with states and localities to update their pandemic plans. Finally, through prioritizing diverse and inclusive representation in clinical research and strengthening enforcement of anti-discrimination requirements, the federal government will increase access to effective COVID-19 care and treatment.
 
Expand access to high quality health care. The federal government will work to expand affordable coverage to increase access to care during this pandemic, and the Task Force will provide recommendations to align federal incentives with improved clinical outcomes. Specific actions include efforts to increase funding for community health centers, provide greater assistance to safety net institutions, strengthen home- and community-based services, expand mental health care, and support care and research on the effects of long COVID.
 
Expand the clinical and public health workforce, including community-based workers. In order to assure equitable PPE distribution, testing, contact tracing, social support for quarantine and isolation and vaccination, there must be sufficient workforce to serve the communities in greatest need. The federal government will augment the health workforce, including with community based workers, as outlined in Goal Three above, to help fill this critical gap. The federal government will create a United States Public Health Workforce Program of new community based workers to assist with testing, tracing and vaccination. Additionally, it will deploy federal workers to assist with the COVID-19 response in under-resourced areas.
 
Strengthen the social service safety net to address unmet basic needs. With millions of families already struggling pre-pandemic to meet basic needs, including food, housing and transportation, COVID-19 has exacerbated these challenges. These challenges contribute to difficulties by many to adhere to public health guidance regarding social distancing and quarantine/isolation. This Administration is committed to addressing these needs in multiple ways, including providing paid sick leave, child care support, and rental assistance, with requested Congressional appropriations. Additionally, it will undertake agency actions to designate COVID-19 health equity leads and extend eligibility and enrollment flexibilities for select programs during the pandemic, as well work with community-based, multi-sector organizations to align health and social interventions.
 
Support communities most at-risk for COVID-19. The federal government is committed to supporting populations that are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Whether residing in congregate settings (such as prisons, nursing and group homes, and homeless shelters), serving as essential workers, living as a person with a disability, or bearing the burden of chronic medical conditions, these vulnerable populations are disproportionately composed of people of color. The CDC will develop and update clear public health guidance for such high-risk populations and settings to further minimize the risk of COVID infection, and work with states to update their pandemic plans to incorporate such guidance as necessary.

Goal 7: Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness for future threats.

U.S. international engagement to combat COVID-19, promote health, and advance global health security is urgent to save lives, promote economic recovery, and develop resilience against future biological catastrophes. America’s withdrawal from the world stage has impeded progress on a global COVID-19 response and left the U.S. more vulnerable to future pandemics. The Biden-Harris Administration will restore America’s role in leading the world through global crises, advancing global health security and the Global Health Security Agenda, including by supporting the international pandemic response effort, providing humanitarian relief and global health assistance, and building resilience for future epidemics and pandemics. The President will issue a National Security Directive that directs steps to restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness. In addition, the United States of America will:
 
Restore the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization and seek to strengthen and reform it. The World Health Organization (WHO) is essential to coordinating the international response to COVID-19 and improving the health of all peopleOn his first day in office, the President sent letters informing the UN Secretary-General and the WHO Director General of his decision to cease the previous Administration’s process of withdrawal from the WHO and meet its financial obligations. The United States is participating in the WHO Executive Board meeting this month, and will take actions to strengthen and reform the WHO.
 
Surge the international COVID-19 public health & humanitarian response. The United States will commit to multilateralism in the international COVID-19 public health and humanitarian response. The President will restore U.S. leadership on the global COVID-19 response and health security, laying out an active role for the United States in surging the health and humanitarian response to COVID-19, and supporting global vaccine distribution and research and development for treatments, tests, and vaccines. The United States will support the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, join the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, and seek to strengthen other existing multilateral initiatives, such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The United States will also take steps to enhance humanitarian relief and support for the capacity of the most vulnerable communities to prevent, detect, respond to, mitigate, and recover from impacts of COVID-19, such as food insecurity and gender-based violence.
 
Restore U.S. leadership to the international COVID-19 response and advance global health security and diplomacy. The United States will promote sustainable global health and global health security, rebuild health security alliances, elevate U.S. efforts to support the Global Health Security Agenda, and revitalize U.S. leadership. The United States will advance global health security financing, promote efforts to harmonize crisis response and early warning for public health emergencies, and strengthen global pandemic supply chains. The United States will also work within the UN Security Council and with partners to strengthen multilateral public health and humanitarian cooperation on the COVID-19 response, global institutions to combat disease, and a global health security architecture to prevent, detect, and respond to future biological threats.
 
Build better biopreparedness and expand resilience for biological threats. The United States is committed to strengthening U.S. biopreparedness and capacity to counter COVID-19 and future biological threats. The President has immediately restored the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, originally established by the Obama-Biden administration. He has reconstituted White House and Administration-wide infrastructure for monitoring and responding to emerging biological risks. And to improve the United States’ preparedness, the Administration will work to secure funding and Congressional support to establish an integrated, National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics to modernize global early warning and trigger systems to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats. The United States will also review and seek to strengthen our pandemic supply chain, public health workforce, medical countermeasure development and distribution, bioeconomic investment and technology-related risks.

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[1] https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/our-work/public-policy-advocacy/naeyc_policy_crisis_coronavirus_december_survey_data.pdf

Biden Elevates Science to Cabinet Rank: ‘Science is about Discovery, Hope, Possibility’

March for Science in New York City, 2017. Americans are hungry to restore America’s global leadership in science and technology and the breakthroughs that benefit humanity. Said Biden in announcing his team of science advisors, “We know that science is discovery, not fiction. It’s also about hope. And that’s America. It’s in the DNA of this country. We’re on the cusp of some of the most remarkable breakthroughs that will fundamentally change our way of life. We can make more progress in the next 10 years than we made in the last 50 years. But we also face some of the most dire crises in generations, where science is critical to whether we meet this moment of peril with the promise we know that is in reach.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Everything about Joe Biden who takes the oath of office of President of the United States on January 20 at 12:01 pm is polar opposite his predecessor, but is most clear in his focus, emphasis and respect for science. And each one of his speeches announcing his administration appointments could stand as an Inaugural Address – again, polar opposite to “American Carnage” that turned out not to be an assessment but Trump’s agenda. Each of his nominees and appointees has been expert, experienced, intelligent and dedicated to their mission as well as public service. In announcing his key science advisors, Biden said that the single word he used to explain the United States was “possibilities.”

That’s what the people on this stage — and the departments they will lead — represent.  They are the ones asking the most American of questions — what’s next? What is the next big breakthrough? How can we make the impossible possible?

“They were asking questions as a call to action. To inspire. To help us imagine the future and figure out how to make it real and improve the lives of the American people…

“We know that science is discovery, not fiction. It’s also about hope. And that’s America. It’s in the DNA of this country. We’re on the cusp of some of the most remarkable breakthroughs that will fundamentally change our way of life. We can make more progress in the next 10 years than we made in the last 50 years. But we also face some of the most dire crises in generations, where science is critical to whether we meet this moment of peril with the promise we know that is in reach.”

Biden has  charged his team to focus on five key areas: the pandemic and public health; the economy and shared prosperity; solving the climate crisis with American jobs; restoring America’s technological leadership in the global marketplace; and ensuring health and trust in science and technology in the nation.

“These are each questions that are calls to action.”  

Biden nominated:

Dr. Eric Lander to be Presidential Science Advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, an office that is being elevated to Cabinet rank.

Biden appointed:

Dr. Alondra Nelson as Deputy Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Dr. Frances Arnold  as Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Dr. Maria Zuber as Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

Dr. Francis Collins will stay on as Director of the National Institutes of Health

Biden added, “to the American people, this is the team that will help restore your faith in America’s place on the frontier of science and discovery and hope.”

Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks in Wilmington, Del., January 16, 2021 announcing his key science advisors: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Good afternoon.

Two of the most extraordinary, yet least known, departments at the White House are the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

They are composed of some of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world.

When I was vice president I had an intense interest in everything they were doing and I paid enormous attention to these issues. 

As president, I’ll pay great attention to these issues again. 

When I travelled the world as vice president, I was often asked to explain America to other world leaders. 

And I remember one conversation vividly I had with Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader. 

He asked me if I could explain America to him. And I said, “Yes, I could. In one word: Possibilities.”

Possibilities.

That’s what the people on this stage —  and the departments they will lead — represent. 

They are the ones asking the most American of questions — what’s next? What is the next big breakthrough? How can we make the impossible possible?

And they weren’t just asking questions for the sake of it.

They were asking questions as a call to action.

To inspire. To help us imagine the future and figure out how to make it real and improve the lives of the American people.

This the team that asks us to imagine every home in America being powered by renewable energy within the next 10 years.

Imagine 3D printers restoring tissues after traumatic injuries and hospitals printing organs for organ transplants.

Imagine, and then rally the scientific community to do it. 

Using science, data, and discovery was a governing philosophy of the Obama-Biden administration.

On everything from the economy and environment, to criminal justice reform and national security. And, on health care.

For example, a belief in science led to our efforts to map the human brain and to develop more precise and individualized medicine.

And it led to our ongoing mission to end cancer as we know it — something that is deeply personal to my family, to Kamala’s family, and countless families across America.

When President Obama asked me to lead the Cancer Moonshot, I knew we had to inject a sense of urgency in the fight.

We believed we could double the rate of progress and do in five years what would take ten.

Jill and I traveled around the country and the world, meeting with thousands of cancer patients and their families, physicians, researchers, philanthropists, technology leaders, and heads of states.

We sought to better understand and break down the silos and stovepipes that prevent sharing of information and impede advances in cancer research and treatment, while building a focused and coordinated effort at home and abroad.

We made progress, but there is so much more we can do.

When I announced that I would not run for president in 2015, I said that I had only one regret  —  that I wouldn’t be the president who presided over the end of cancer as we know it. 

As president, I will do everything we can to get it done. 

It will be a top priority for me and Kamala, and a signature issue for Jill as First Lady.

We know that science is discovery, not fiction. It’s also about hope.

And that’s America. It’s in the DNA of this country.

We’re on the cusp of some of the most remarkable breakthroughs that will fundamentally change our way of life.

We can make more progress in the next 10 years than we made in the last 50 years.

But we also face some of the most dire crises in generations, where science is critical to whether we meet this moment of peril with the promise we know that is in reach.

In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt asked his science advisor: how could the United States further advance scientific research in the crucial years following the Second World War. The response led to some of the most groundbreaking discoveries over the last 75 years. 

We can do it again.

So today, I am proud to announce the team of some of the country’s most brilliant and accomplished scientists to lead the way. 

I’m asking them to focus on five key areas to start.

First, the pandemic and what can we learn about what is possible,  or what should be possible, to address the widest range of our public health needs?

Second, the economy, and how can we build back better to ensure prosperity is fully shared across America and among all Americans?

Third, how can science help us confront the climate crisis with American jobs and ingenuity?

Fourth, how can we ensure the United States leads the world in the technologies and industries of the future that will be critical to our economic prosperity and national security, especially as we compete with China and other nations?

And fifth, how can we ensure the long-term health and trust in science and technology in our nation? 

These are each questions that are calls to action.

And I am honored to announce the team that is answering the call to serve.

As Presidential Science Advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy — I nominate Dr. Eric Lander.

A pioneer in the scientific community. A principal leader of the Human Genome Project.

It’s not hyperbole to suggest that Dr. Lander’s work has changed the course of human history.

His role in helping us map the genome pulled back the curtain on human disease, allowing scientists ever since — and for generations to come — to explore the molecular basis for some of the most devastating illnesses affecting our world.

And the applications of his pioneering work are poised to lead to incredible cures and breakthroughs in the years to come.  Dr. Lander now serves as the president and founding director of the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard — the world’s foremost non-profit genetic research organization.

I came to appreciate Dr. Lander’s extraordinary mind when he served as a Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Obama-Biden administration.

I’m grateful we can work together again.

I have always said that the Biden-Harris administration will also lead with science and truth.

That’s how we’re going to overcome this pandemic and build our country back better than before. And that’s why, for the first time in history, I will be elevating the Presidential Science Advisor to Cabinet rank.

As Deputy Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, I appoint Dr. Alondra Nelson.

A professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. President of the Social Science Research Council.

And one of America’s leading scholars, an award-winning author and researcher exploring the connections between science and our society.

The daughter of a military family — her Dad served in the Navy, while her mom was an Army cryptographer.

Dr. Nelson developed a love of technology from a young age — tinkering with the early computing products and code-breaking equipment she grew up with in her home.

And that passion forged a lifelong curiosity about the inequities and the power dynamics that sit beneath the surface of scientific research and the technologies we build.

Dr. Nelson has fused those insights into science and technology and society, like few before her in history.

Breaking new ground in our understanding of the role that science plays in American life, and opening the door to a future in which science better serves all people.

As Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, I appoint Dr. Frances Arnold.

Director of the Rosen Bioengineering Center at CalTech. One of the world’s leading experts in protein engineering. A lifelong champion of renewable energy solutions who has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Not only is she the first woman to be elected to all three of the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering, she is also the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. 

A daughter of Pittsburgh — she worked as a cab driver and a jazz club server before making her way to Princeton and Berkeley and a career on the leading edge of human discovery.

She survived breast cancer, and overcame tragic losses in her family, while rising to the top of a field still overwhelmingly dominated by men.

Her passion has been a steadfast commitment to renewable energy for the betterment of our planet and of humankind.

She is an inspiring figure to scientists across fields and across nations.

And I want to thank Dr. Arnold for agreeing to join us as Co-Chair of the first all-woman team to lead the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which leads me to the next member of the team.

As Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, I appoint Dr. Maria Zuber.

A trailblazing geophysicist and planetary scientist. 

A former chair of the National Science Board.

The first woman to lead a science department at MIT, and the first woman to lead a NASA robotic planetary mission.

Growing up in coal country — in a small town in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, about 50 miles south of Scranton — she dreamed of exploring outer space.

Reading every book she could find and listening to her mom’s stories about watching the earliest rocket launches on television.

Maria became the first person in her family to go to college — and never let go of her dream.

Today, she oversees the Lincoln Laboratory at MIT and leads the institution’s Climate Action Plan.

She has played a leadership role in ten NASA missions.

Her groundbreaking work in planetary mapping has generated some of the most accurate  topographic maps humanity has ever produced of the Moon and of Mars.

Not only is she an explorer of outer space, she is one of our most accomplished explorers in generations.

I am honored that she has agreed to answer this call to service and to help us chart new courses of discovery.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Francis Collins, who could not be here today, will stay on as Director of the National Institutes of Health at this critical moment.

I’ve known Dr. Collins for many years and worked with him closely. He is brilliant, a pioneer, and a true leader.

Above all, he is a model public servant and I am honored and thankful to be working with him again. 

To each of you and your families, thank you for your willingness to serve in the administration.

And to the American people, this is the team that will help restore your faith in America’s place on the frontier of science and discovery and hope.

Biden Outlines COVID-19 Vaccination Plan: More Sites, More Vaccinators, More Cooperation Between Fed, Local Health

State and local public health officials have been frustrated by limited supply and vaccinators even as they try to expand COVID-19 vaccination sites. President-Elect Joe Biden announced his detailed plan to dramatically increase vaccinations, with a goal of 100 million in his first 100 days © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With a promise to “manage the hell out of this thing,” President-Elect Joe Biden laid out a cogent, detailed, realistic plan to “efficiently and equitably vaccinate” the population, with a pledge to administer 100 million doses in his first 100 days.

Biden plans to use a “whole of government,”  “whole of society” approach, enlisting FEMA, the Defense Production Act, the National Guard, to set up federally manned and funded sites including mobile clinics to complement local communities, and increase supply of vaccines and vaccinators.

Our plan is as clear as it is bold:

“Get more people vaccinated for free.

“Create more places for them to get vaccinated.

“Mobilize more medical teams to get shots into peoples’ arms.

“Increase supply and get it out the door as soon as possible.

“This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts ever undertaken by our country.

“You have my word that we will manage the hell out of this operation.”

Biden continued
:

“For God’s sake, wear a mask for yourself, for your loved ones, for your country,” he declared in remarks from Wilmington on January 15. “These are life and death matters. We need you to stick with the hand washing, social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings with people outside your household.

“We’ll be a partner to the states and cities, so where things are working, we’ll help do more of the good work, and where things can improve, we’ll bring more resources to bear to get folks tested and vaccinated.

“We will work closely with nonprofits and the private sector who we know all want to partner with us in this effort. 

“The more people we vaccinate and the faster we do it, the sooner we can put this pandemic behind us.

“And the sooner we can build our economy back better, and get back to our lives and loved ones.

“As we’ve seen during this pandemic, we can’t solve our problems as a divided nation.

“The only way we come through this is together as fellow Americans and as the United States of America.

“Vice-President-elect Harris and I ran on that vision. And starting noon on Wednesday, that is exactly how we are going to govern and ask for your help.”

Here’s Biden’s plan:

The COVID-19 pandemic is getting worse by the day — more people are hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before, the death rate is up almost 20 percent, and we’re nearing 400,000 deaths total. At the same time, there is a new, more contagious strain spreading across the country and we are woefully behind on vaccinating the U.S. population. 

President-elect Biden will confront this historic challenge with the full strength of the federal government — working closely with local communities already in the trenches. He will lead an unprecedented, whole-of-society effort that mobilizes every resource available — across the public and private sectors. It will take every American doing their part. 

As we move forward to get vaccines in arms as quickly as possible, we will not leave anyone behind. Communities across the country are counting on it. The health and economic security of our nation depend on it.

Today, the president-elect outlined key highlights of his plan to efficiently and equitably vaccinate the U.S. population. This includes taking action to: 

Get more people vaccinated

  • Encourage states to allow more people to be vaccinated including individuals 65 and older as well as frontline workers. The process of establishing priority groups was driven by science, but the implementation has been too rigid and confusing. We now see doses of vaccines sitting in freezers unused while people who want the vaccine cannot get it. President-elect Biden’s plan encourages states to open up eligibility beyond healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff, to include frontline essential workers like teachers, first responders, grocery store employees, and anyone who is 65 and older. It won’t mean that everyone in these groups will get vaccinated immediately, as supply is not where it needs to be. But it will mean that as vaccines become available, they will reach more people who need them. For states with the capacity and supply to further expand, we encourage that as well. The federal government will continue to look to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) framework for an equitable, effective vaccination program.
  • Ensure equity throughout the vaccination process to reach those in hard-to-reach, marginalized communities. We will ensure that there is equity in the vaccination process by using data to target resources to hard-hit communities, ensuring no out-of-pocket costs for vaccinations, and equitable access to vaccines in marginalized and medically-underserved communities. Partnerships with state, local and community-based organizations and trusted health care providers, like community health centers, will be central to this effort.

Create more vaccination sites

  • Stand up new, federally-supported community vaccination centers across the country. Getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible will require close coordination between the federal government and all states and territories. Knowing that not all states and jurisdictions have the resources to scale vaccinations at the pace this crisis demands, the Biden-Harris administration will leverage federal resources and emergency contracting authorities to launch new vaccination sites and to expand state and local efforts across the country. With the support of Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), these sites will mobilize thousands of clinical and non-clinical staff and contractors who will work hand-in-glove with the National Guard and state and local teams. The program will be scaled based on what is working best on the ground for state and local partners, and the communities they serve. 
  • Fully reimburse state deployment of the National Guard to support vaccinations and provide additional FEMA assistance. Many states are planning to use their National Guard to support vaccine distribution efforts, including to support critical transportation and logistics functions. To further support states, President-elect Biden’s plan fully reimburses states for the use of the National Guard and provides 100% cost match for state and local emergency costs through FEMA.
  • Launch mobile vaccination clinics and provider partnerships to reach underserved urban areas and rural communities. President-elect Biden will deploy mobile vaccination clinics in the most hard-to-reach communities and to support those who face challenges accessing vaccination sites, including individuals who live in underserved urban and rural areas. The federal government will partner with states and local providers, including primary care providers, to ensure that they have the resources needed to help get vaccines to the communities they serve. The federal government will launch targeted programs to engage community health centers, rural health clinics, critical access hospitals, and tribal health services to ensure that we can meet the needs of all communities. 
  • Make vaccines available in pharmacies. Millions of Americans turn to their local pharmacies every day for their medicines, flu shots, and much more. Nearly 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy. President-elect Biden will quickly jumpstart efforts to increase capacity at chain and independent pharmacies across the country to get Americans vaccinated. 
  • Launch a new partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers nationwide. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) serve more than 30 million patients each year — one in 11 people nationwide. Many are people of color and many live in rural communities. FQHC patients are often individuals struggling to make ends meet. Given the critical role that these providers play in their communities, President-elect Biden will launch a new program to ensure that FQHCs can directly access vaccine supply where needed. At the same time, the administration will encourage jurisdictions to engage and work closely with health centers in their community vaccination planning. And to ensure that health centers have the resources they need to successfully launch vaccination programs, President-elect Biden has called on Congress to provide additional funds to support community health centers, and HHS will launch a new program to provide guidance, technical assistance, and other resources to prepare and engage these providers nationwide. 
  • Launch new models to serve high-risk individuals. The administration will make programs available for high-risk congregate settings, including homeless shelters, jails, and institutions that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Increase supply and get it out the door as quickly as possible

  • Ensure a robust vaccine supply and spur manufacturing. To help people get vaccinated more quickly, the president-elect will maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country, including using the Defense Production Act. This effort will prioritize supplies that could cause bottlenecks, including glass vials, stoppers, syringes, needles, and the “fill and finish” capacity to package vaccine into vials.
  • Be a reliable partner for states by providing actionable data on vaccine allocation timelines and delivery. To effectively plan and scale distribution, states and localities rely on both advanced understanding of their allocations and timely delivery of their ordered doses. Under President-elect Biden’s plan, the federal government will provide regular projections of the allocations states and localities will receive. The federal government will build on the operational plans in place to ensure the effective distribution, storage, and transit of vaccines to states, including support for maintaining or augmenting the vaccine-specific required cold chain. The federal government will also fully leverage the Defense Production Act to fill any distribution gaps, including with respect to any needed refrigeration, transportation, or storage facilities. 
  • Increase vaccine availability while maintaining a commitment to the two-dose schedule. President-elect Biden’s plan will release the vast majority of the vaccines when they are available, so more people can get vaccinated quickly, while still retaining a small reserve for any unforeseen shortages or delays. To continue ensuring second-dose availability on the timeline recommended by the FDA, the Biden-Harris administration will closely monitor development, production and release of vaccines, and use the DPA as needed to ensure adequate supply for second doses on the timeline recommended by the FDA. 

Mobilize more personnel to get shots in arms. 

  • Surge the public health workforce to support the vaccination effort. A diverse, community-based public health workforce is essential to an effective vaccination program. President-elect Biden will address workforce needs by taking steps to allow additional qualified professionals to administer vaccines and strongly encourage states to use their flexibility fully to surge their workforce, including by expanding scope of practice laws and waiving licensing requirements as appropriate. The federal government, in partnership with states, will provide appropriate training, including thorough use of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. The president-elect will also act swiftly to amend the current COVID-19 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act declaration to permit certain qualified professionals, including retired medical professionals, that are not licensed under state law to administer vaccines to be able to do so with appropriate training in order to expand the number of qualified professionals able to administer the vaccine. 
  • Mobilize a public health jobs program to support COVID-19 response. President-elect Biden has asked Congress to make an historic investment in expanding the public health workforce, funding 100,000 public health workers to nearly triple the country’s community health roles. These individuals will be hired to work in their local communities to perform vital tasks like vaccine outreach and contact tracing in the near term, and to transition into community health roles to build our long-term public health capacity that will help improve quality of care and reduce hospitalization for low-income and underserved communities.

Ensure the American people have the information and confidence they need to get vaccinated 

  • Launch a federally led, locally focused public education campaign. The federal government will build public trust through increased transparency, communication around progress and setbacks, and a public education campaign that addresses vaccine hesitancy and is tailored to meet the needs of local communities. The campaign will work to elevate trusted local voices and outline the historic efforts to deliver a safe and effective vaccine as part of a national strategy for beating COVID-19.

Hotel Industry Offers to Provide 50,000 Sites for Public Health Officials to Administer COVID-19 Vaccine


America’s hotel industry is offering to provide sites to administer the COVID-19 vaccine © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

America’s hotel industry is offering to provide up to 50,000 sites to assist in the rapid administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, in partnership with public health departments.

In a letter to the Biden Transition Team, Chip Rogers, President and CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association, writes, “America’s hotels stand ready to work alongside America’s governors as states continue to move forward in administrating the COVID-19 vaccine. By quickly mobilizing an existing network of sites, hotels can help strengthen the delivery and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in communities across the country to better streamline and build on current state efforts.”

The AHLA has a “Hospitality for Hope” initiative which has infrastructure in place to support public health agencies and private sector partners through a network of 20,000 hotels that could be used as locations to administer the vaccine.

In the letter, which is also sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chair, National Governors Association;
Governor Asa Hutchinson, Vice Chair National Governors Association; Moncef Slaoui, Operation Warp Speed; Dr. Robert R. Redfield, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Alex Azar, Secretary of Health & Human Services; and the US Conference of Mayors, he writes:

“As you know, administering the vaccine on a national level will be a significant undertaking requiring innovative solutions and collaboration. To aide in the distribution, the hotel industry is asking that hotels be considered as an option for vaccine administration sites in partnership with public health departments. 

“Hotels have existing infrastructure and operational capabilities to serve as vaccine administration sites and capacity to assist. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) under its “Hospitality for Hope” initiative has the infrastructure in place to support public health agencies and private sector partners through a network of more than 20,000 hotels which could be quickly ready serve as locations to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Through this program, the hotel industry has already successfully partnered with federal and local governments to provide assistance to those in need, including frontline and emergency workers as well as state and municipal public health departments. 

“The hotel industry is ready to step in and assist our community and alleviate the current burdens on our health systems in a time of national need and has the following capabilities:

  • Geographic reach: With more than 50,000 hotels in every state, including properties located in cities, suburbs, and rural communities, hotels have the geographic reach to support a wide distribution of the vaccine.
  • Available Capacity and Operate 24/7: Hotels have private rooms, meeting rooms, conference and ball rooms as well as outside areas, hotels are equipped for 24-hour operations to allow for round-the-clock vaccination administration. This will also ensure there is adequate space to maintain physical distancing, capacity limits and other safety protocols. Further, as hotels are currently running at less than 50 percent occupancy rates, families or individuals who might be traveling to receive the vaccine will have access to comfortable and flexible lodging options should they need
  • Comprehensive cleanliness protocols: The industry has also adopted AHLA’s Safe Stay, an enhanced cleaning initiative that builds on the hotel industry’s long-standing commitment and operations procedures to ensure the safety of guests during the ongoing public health crisis.
  • Infrastructure: Hotels also offer ample parking and are often accessible from major transportation networks, including highways and public transportation routes. Hotels also have outdoor capabilities that can provide safe, weather-proof vaccination services where parking lots could be utilized for vaccination administration, similar to drive-thru testing sites.
  • Refrigeration Capabilities: With many hotels being temperature controlled and the majority of hotels having refrigeration capabilities to store vaccines, issues concerning vaccine storage will be limited or can be quickly addressed to meet the requirements necessary for safe and effective vaccine storage.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our industry has been on the frontlines to support national public health and safety priorities. AHLA launched the “Hospitality for Hope” initiative in early 2020, identifying more than 20,000 hotels willing to provide temporary housing for emergency and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The initiative identified a total combined 2.3 million rooms located in close proximity to established healthcare facilities for frontline workers to use as they worked around the clock to save lives and provide lodging for those exposed to COVID to quarantine safely. Additionally, as part of this effort, hotels are supporting the national guard by providing lodging to those who Washington D.C. and surrounding region to provide additional security around the inauguration. 

“With the next phases of vaccination distribution underway, hotels have the unique capability to help provide additional locations to assist with the administration of the vaccine. As an industry, we have always stepped up to help our neighbors and communities in a time of need, including early-on in the pandemic through Hospitality for Hope. The industry looks forward to continuing this work in partnership with the public and private sector to support this next phase of recovery.”

FACT SHEET: President-elect Biden Announces American Rescue Plan

Emergency Legislative Package to Fund Vaccinations, Provide Immediate, Direct Relief to Families Bearing the Brunt of the COVID-19 Crisis, and Support Struggling Communities

President-Elect Joe Biden described the first part of his two-pronged plan of Rescue and Recovery from the surging coronavirus pandemic and the economic devastation. “A two-step plan to build a bridge to the other side of the crises we face and to a better, stronger, more secure America…the first step — the American Rescue Plan — that will tackle the pandemic and get direct financial assistance and relief to Americans who need it the most.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis are devastating families across the country. More than 20 million Americans have contracted COVID-19, and at least 370,000 have died. From big cities to small towns, too many Americans are barely scraping by, or not scraping by at all. And the pandemic has shined a light on the persistence of racial injustice in our healthcare system and our economy. The need to act is clear in the lines at food banks, the small businesses that are closed or closing, and the growing number of Americans experiencing housing insecurity. After nearly a year of the public health crisis, our nation remains in this dark winter of the pandemic and facing a deep economic crisis. 

President-elect Biden is laying out the first step of an aggressive, two-step plan for rescue, from the depths of this crisis, and recovery, by investing in America, creating millions of additional good-paying jobs, combatting the climate crisis, advancing racial equity, and building back better than before.

While Congress’s bipartisan action in December was a step in the right direction, it was only a down payment. It fell far short of the resources needed to tackle the immediate crisis. We are in a race against time, and absent additional government assistance, the economic and public health crises could worsen in the months ahead; schools will not be able to safely reopen; and vaccinations will remain far too slow. 

As last month’s jobs report underscored, the virus and our economy are intertwined. We cannot rescue our economy without containing this virus. 

Today, President-elect Biden is announcing the American Rescue Plan to change the course of the pandemic, build a bridge towards economic recovery, and invest in racial justice. The American Rescue Plan will address the stark, intergenerational inequities that have worsened in the wake of COVID-19. Researchers at Columbia University estimate that these proposals will cut child poverty in half.

Specifically, President-elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan will:

  • Mount a national vaccination program, contain COVID-19, and safely reopen schools, including by setting up community vaccination sites nationwide, scaling up testing and tracing, eliminating supply shortage problems, investing in high-quality treatments, providing paid sick leave to contain spread of the virus, addressing health disparities, and making the necessary investments to meet the president-elect’s goal of safely reopening a majority of K-8 schools in the first 100 days.
  • Deliver immediate relief to working families bearing the brunt of this crisis by sending $1,400 per-person checks to households across America, providing direct housing and nutrition assistance, expanding access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable healthcare, increasing the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance, and giving families with kids and childless workers an emergency boost this year.
  • Support communities that are struggling in the wake of COVID-19 by providing support for the hardest-hit small businesses, especially small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color, and protecting the jobs of the first responders, transit workers, and other essential workers we depend on.

In addition to addressing the public health and economic crises head on, the president-elect’s plan will provide emergency funding to upgrade federal information technology infrastructure and address the recent breaches of federal government data systems. This is an urgent national security issue that cannot wait. 

President-elect Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is ambitious, but achievable, and will rescue the American economy and start beating the virus. Congress should act expeditiously to help working families, communities, and small businesses persevere through the pandemic.

This legislative package is needed now to address the immediate crises. In the coming weeks, President-elect Biden will lay out his economic recovery plan to invest in America, create millions of additional good-paying jobs, combat the climate crisis, and build back better than before. 

Mount a national vaccination program, contain COVID-19, and safely reopen schools

The pandemic is raging, with record high infection and death rates. A new strain of the virus that is even more contagious is appearing in communities across the country. Meanwhile, Americans are waiting to get their vaccines, even while doses are sitting on shelves. More than ten months into the pandemic, we still lack necessary testing capacity and are suffering from shortages of supplies like basic protective equipment for those on the front lines. Americans of color are being infected and are dying from COVID-19 at greater rates because of lasting systemic racism in our health care system. And, older Americans continue to suffer at disproportionate rates.

We can’t wait to slow the spread of this virus. And, we can’t fight this pandemic in fits and starts. President-elect Biden is putting forward a comprehensive plan to deal with this crisis and launch a whole-of-government COVID-19 response plan that will change the course of the pandemic by ensuring we have necessary supplies and protective gear, increasing testing to mitigate spread, vaccinating the US population, safely reopening schools, and addressing COVID-19 health disparities. 

To support this plan, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide the $160 billion in funding necessary to save American lives and execute on his plan to mount a national vaccination program, expand testing, mobilize a public health jobs program, and take other necessary steps to build capacity to fight the virus. He is also calling on Congress to ensure our schools have everything they need to safely reopen and to provide emergency paid leave so people can stay home when needed to help contain the spread of the virus. Altogether, this would put over $400 billion toward these critical measures for addressing COVID-19.  

President-elect Biden’s rescue proposal will: 

Mount a national vaccination program. Current vaccination efforts are not sufficient to quickly and equitably vaccinate the vast majority of the U.S. population. We must ensure that those on the ground have what they need to get vaccinations into people’s arms. The president-elect’s proposal will invest $20 billion in a national vaccination program in partnership with states, localities, Tribes and territories. This will include launching community vaccination centers around the country and deploying mobile vaccination units to hard-to-reach areas. The Biden Administration will take action to ensure all people in the United States — regardless of their immigration status — can access the vaccine free-of-charge and without cost-sharing. To help states ensure that all Medicaid enrollees will be vaccinated, President-elect Biden will also work with Congress to expand the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to 100% for the administration of vaccines.

Scale up testing to stop the spread of COVID, safely reopen schools, and protect at-risk populations. While we are working to vaccinate the population, we need to focus on what we know works. Testing is a critical strategy for controlling the spread of COVID-19, yet the U.S. is still not using it effectively. Despite innovations to improve testing, tests are still not widely available. The president-elect’s plan invests $50 billion in a massive expansion of testing, providing funds for the purchase of rapid tests, investments to expand lab capacity, and support to help schools and local governments implement regular testing protocols. Expanded testing will ensure that schools can implement regular testing to support safe reopening; that vulnerable settings like prisons and long-term care facilities can regularly test their populations; and that any American can get a test for free when they need one.

Mobilize a public health jobs program to support COVID-19 response. The president-elect’s plan includes an historic investment in expanding the public health workforce. This proposal will fund 100,000 public health workers, nearly tripling the country’s community health roles. These individuals will be hired to work in their local communities to perform vital tasks like vaccine outreach and contact tracing in the near term, and to transition into community health roles to build our long-term public health capacity that will help improve quality of care and reduce hospitalization for low-income and underserved communities.

Address health disparities and COVID-19. While COVID-19 has devastated the entire country, it has hit some groups and communities of color much harder than others. President-elect Biden is committed to addressing the disparities evident in the pandemic at every step, from ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines and supplies to expanding health care services for underserved communities. His proposal includes funding to provide health services for underserved populations, including expanding Community Health Centers and investing in health services on tribal lands. These funds will support the expansion of COVID treatment and care, as well as our ability to provide vaccination to underserved populations. 

Protect vulnerable populations in congregate settings. Long-term care residents and workers account for almost 40% of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths. Further, African-American and Latina women, who have borne the brunt of the pandemic, are overrepresented among long-term care workers. The president-elect’s proposal provides critical funding for states to deploy strike teams to long-term care facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks — which may impede vaccination of residents and workers — and to conduct better infection control oversight.

1 in 5 state and federal prisoners in the U.S. has had COVID-19, and African Americans and Latinos are overrepresented among incarcerated individuals. The proposal also supports COVID-19 safety in federal, state, and local prisons, jails, and detention centers by providing funding for COVID-19 mitigation strategies, including supplies and physical distancing; safe re-entry for the formerly incarcerated; and the vaccination of both incarcerated people and staff.

Identify and address emerging strains of COVID-19. The identification of new strains of SARS-CoV-2 in the United Kingdom and South Africa highlight a key vulnerability in our nation’s COVID response: we simply do not have the kind of robust surveillance capabilities that we need to track outbreaks and mutations. Tracking the way the virus is changing and moving through the population is essential to understanding outbreaks, generating treatments and vaccines, and controlling the pandemic. The president-elect’s proposal includes funding to dramatically increase our country’s sequencing, surveillance, and outbreak analytics capacity at the levels demanded by the crisis.

Provide emergency relief and purchase critical supplies and deploy National Guard. Persistent supply shortages — from gloves and masks to glass vials and test reagents — are inhibiting our ability to provide testing and vaccination and putting frontline workers at risk. The president-elect’s plan will invest $30 billion into the Disaster Relief Fund to ensure sufficient supplies and protective gear, and to provide 100% federal reimbursement for critical emergency response resources to states, local governments, and Tribes, including deployment of the National Guard. The president-elect will call for an additional $10 billion investment in expanding domestic manufacturing for pandemic supplies. These funds will support President-elect Biden in fulfilling his commitment to fully use the Defense Production Act and to safeguard the country by producing more pandemic supplies in the U.S.

Invest in treatments for COVID-19. Months into this pandemic, we still do not have reliable and accessible treatments. The federal government urgently needs to invest to support development, manufacturing, and purchase of therapies to ensure wide availability and affordability of effective treatments, as well as invest in studies of the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 and potential therapies to address them.

Protect workers against COVID-19. Millions of Americans, many of whom are people of color, immigrants, and low-wage workers, continue to put their lives on the line to keep the country functioning through the pandemic. They should not have to lie awake at night wondering if they’ll make it home from work safely the next day, or if they’ll bring home the virus to their loved ones and communities. The president-elect is calling on Congress to authorize the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a COVID-19 Protection Standard that covers a broad set of workers, so that workers not typically covered by OSHA, like many public workers on the frontlines, also receive protection from unsafe working conditions and retaliation. And, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide additional funding for OSHA enforcement and grant funding, including for the Susan Harwood grant program, for organizations to help keep vulnerable workers healthy and safe from COVID-19. These steps will help keep more workers healthy, reopen more businesses safely, and beat the virus.

 Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness. Protecting the United States from COVID-19 requires a global response, and the pandemic is a grave reminder that biological threats can pose catastrophic consequences to the United States and the world. The president-elect’s plan will provide support to the international health and humanitarian response; mitigate the pandemic’s devastating impact on global health, food security, and gender-based violence; support international efforts to develop and distribute medical countermeasures for COVID-19; and build the capacity required to fight COVID-19, its variants, and emerging biological threats.

Provide schools the resources they need to reopen safely. A critical plank of President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 plan is to safely reopen schools as soon as possible — so kids and educators can get back in class and parents can go back to work. This will require immediate, urgent action by Congress. The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, and the students and parents they serve. School closures have disproportionately impacted the learning of Black and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities and English language learners. While the December down payment for schools and higher education institutions was a start, it is not sufficient to address the crisis. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide $170 billion — supplemented by additional state and local relief resources — for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. These resources will help schools serve all students, no matter where they are learning, and help achieve President-elect Biden’s goal to open the majority of K-8 schools within the first 100 days of his Administration. 

  • Provide $130 billion to help schools to safely reopen. Schools need flexible resources to safely reopen and operate and/or facilitate remote learning. The president-elect’s plan will provide $130 billion to support schools in safely reopening. These funds can be used to reduce class sizes and modify spaces so students and teachers can socially distance; improve ventilation; hire more janitors and implement mitigation measures; provide personal protective equipment; ensure every school has access to a nurse; increase transportation capacity to facilitate social distancing on the bus; hire counselors to support students as they transition back to the classroom; close the digital divide that is exacerbating inequities during the pandemic; provide summer school or other support for students that will help make up lost learning time this year; create and expand community schools; and cover other costs needed to support safely reopening and support students. These funds will also include provisions to ensure states adequately fund education and protect students in low-income communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. Districts must ensure that funds are used to not only reopen schools, but also to meet students’ academic, mental health and social, and emotional needs in response to COVID-19, (e.g. through extended learning time, tutoring, and counselors), wherever they are learning. Funding can be used to prevent cuts to state pre-K programs. A portion of funding will be reserved for a COVID-19 Educational Equity Challenge Grant, which will support state, local and tribal governments in partnering with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders to advance equity- and evidence-based policies to respond to COVID-related educational challenges and give all students the support they need to succeed. In addition to this funding, schools will be able to access FEMA Disaster Relief Fund resources to get reimbursed for certain COVID-19 related expenses and will receive support to implement regular testing protocols.
  • Expand the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The president-elect’s plan will ensure colleges have critical resources to implement public health protocols, execute distance learning plans, and provide emergency grants to students in need. This $35 billion in funding will be directed to public institutions, including community colleges, as well as, public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions. This funding will provide millions of students up to an additional $1,700 in financial assistance from their college.
  • Hardest Hit Education Fund. Provide $5 billion in funds for governors to use to support educational programs and the learning needs of students significantly impacted by COVID-19, whether K-12, higher education, or early childhood education programs.

Provide emergency paid leave to 106 million more Americans to reduce the spread of the virus. No American should have to choose between putting food on the table and quarantining to prevent further spread of COVID-19. And yet, nearly 1 in 4 workers and close to half of low-income workers lack access to paid sick leave, disproportionately burdening Americans of color. Lack of paid leave is threatening the financial security of working families and increasing the risk of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Congress did the right thing last year when it created an emergency paid leave program through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. That action decreased daily infections by 400 cases per state per day in states that previously had no paid sick leave requirement. While the December down payment extended the Families First employer tax credits through March 2021, it did not renew the requirement that employers provide leave. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to:

  • Put the requirement back in place and eliminate exemptions for employers with more than 500 and less than 50 employees. He will also make it clear that healthcare workers and first responders get these benefits, too. Closing these loopholes in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will extend emergency paid leave to up to 106 million additional workers.
  • Provide expanded paid sick and family and medical leave. The president-elect will provide over 14 weeks of paid sick and family and medical leave to help parents with additional caregiving responsibilities when a child or loved one’s school or care center is closed; for people who have or are caring for people with COVID-19 symptoms, or who are quarantining due to exposure; and for people needing to take time to get the vaccine.
  • Expand emergency paid leave to include federal workers. This measure will provide paid leave protections to approximately 2 million Americans who work for the federal government. 
  • Provide a maximum paid leave benefit of $1,400 per-week for eligible workers. This will provide full wage replacement to workers earning up to $73,000 annually, more than three-quarters of all workers
  • Reimburse employers with less than 500 employees for the cost of this leave. Extending the refundable tax credit will reimburse employers for 100 percent of the cost of this leave. 
  • Reimburse state and local government for the cost of this leave.
  • Extend emergency paid leave measures until September 30, 2021. With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, extending paid leave until the end of September will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 and provide economic security to millions of working families.


Deliver Immediate, Direct Relief to Families Bearing the Brunt of the Crisis. 

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, millions of Americans are hurting through no fault of their own. More than 10 million Americans are unemployed, and 4 million have been out of work for half a year or longer. The jobs crisis is particularly severe in communities of color, where 1 in 10 Black workers and 1 in 11 Latino workers are unemployed. Large numbers of families are struggling to pay rent or their mortgages and put food on the table. And, last month, it only got worse: we lost 140,000 jobs in December, including 20,000 public educators, and nearly 400,000 jobs at restaurants and bars.

President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to take urgent action to deliver immediate, direct relief to Americans bearing the brunt of this crisis. Altogether, this would devote about $1 trillion towards building a bridge to economic recovery for working families and, according to researchers at Columbia University, cut child poverty in half. 

President-elect Biden’s plan will: 

Give working families a $1,400 per-person check to help pay their bills, bringing their total relief payment from this and the December down payment to $2,000. More than 1 in 3 households — and half of Black and Latino households — are struggling to pay for usual household expenses like rent and groceries during the pandemic. In this crisis, working families need more than the $600 per person that Congress passed last year. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to increase that direct financial assistance to $2,000. An additional $1,400 per person in direct checks will help hard-hit households cover expenses, spend money at local businesses in their communities, and stimulate the economy. President-elect Biden’s plan will also expand eligibility to adult dependents who have been left out of previous rounds of relief and all mixed status households. And, his plan will ensure that the Treasury Department has the flexibility and resources it needs to deliver stimulus checks to the families that need them most, including the millions of families that still haven’t received the $1,200 checks they are entitled to under the CARES Act. 

Extend and expand unemployment insurance benefits so American workers can pay their bills. Around 18 million Americans rely on the unemployment insurance program. Congress did the right thing by continuing expanded eligibility and extending the number of weeks unemployed workers can receive benefits. One study estimates that extending pandemic unemployment insurance programs through 2021 could create or save over five million jobs. But these benefits are set to expire in weeks — even as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens. Millions of Americans are receiving benefits through unemployment insurance programs that will no longer serve new beneficiaries starting in mid-March.

President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to extend these and other programs, providing millions of hard-hit workers with the financial security and peace of mind they need and deserve. And, he believes Congress should provide a $400 per-week unemployment insurance supplement to help hard-hit workers cover household expenses. The president-elect is committed to providing these emergency supports to families for as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues and employment opportunities remain limited. The president-elect is proposing to extend these emergency unemployment insurance programs through September 2021, and will work with Congress on ways to automatically adjust the length and amount of relief depending on health and economic conditions so future legislative delay doesn’t undermine the recovery and families’ access to benefits they need.

President-elect Biden’s plan will:

  • Extend financial assistance for workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation benefits. Extending and increasing the additional weeks provided under the emergency unemployment insurance program will ensure that approximately 5 million Americans continue to receive assistance in the months ahead. 
  • Extend financial assistance for unemployed workers who do not typically qualify for unemployment compensation benefits. The president-elect believes Congress should extend unemployment support for self-employed workers, like ride-share drivers and many grocery delivery workers, who do not typically qualify for regular unemployment compensation. And, he supports increasing the number of weeks these workers can receive the benefit to provide long-term financial security to the program’s approximately 8 million beneficiaries
  • Fully fund states’ short-time compensation programs and additional weeks of benefits. Short-time compensation programs, also known as work sharing, help small businesses stay afloat and economically vulnerable workers make ends meet by enabling workers to stay on the job at reduced hours, while making up the difference in pay. These programs avoid layoffs and pave the way for rapid rehiring and an accelerated recovery. 

Help struggling households keep a roof over their heads. The economic fallout of COVID-19 has made it more difficult for working families, especially families of color, to cover their housing expenses. Across the country, 1 in 5 renters and 1 in 10 homeowners with a mortgage are behind on payments. Congress took an important step in the right direction by securing $25 billion in rental assistance and extending the federal eviction moratorium until January 31. However, American families already owe $25 billion in back rent, and the threat of widespread evictions will still exist at the end of January. Further, more than 10 million homeowners have fallen behind on mortgage payments. Failing to take additional action will lead to a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months, overwhelming emergency shelter capacity and increasing the likelihood of COVID-19 infections. And Americans of color, who have on average a fraction of the wealth available to white families, face higher risks of eviction and housing loss without critical assistance. 

President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to take immediate action to forestall a coming wave of COVID-related evictions and foreclosures. 

  • Ensure that families hit hard by the economic crisis won’t face eviction or foreclosure. The president-elect is calling on Congress to extend the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and continue applications for forbearance on federally-guaranteed mortgages until September 30, 2021. These measures will prevent untold economic hardship for homeowners, while limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The president-elect is also calling on Congress to provide funds for legal assistance for households facing eviction or foreclosure.
  • Help renters and small landlords make ends meet by providing an additional $30 billion in rental and critical energy and water assistance for hard-hit individuals and families. While the $25 billion allocated by Congress was an important down payment on the back rent accrued during this crisis, it is insufficient to meet the scale of the need. That’s why President-elect Biden is proposing an additional $25 billion in rental assistance to provide much-needed rental relief, especially for low- and moderate-income households who have lost jobs or are out of the labor market. The president-elect is also proposing $5 billion to cover home energy and water costs and arrears through programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, for struggling renters. These funds will ensure that the hardest-hit renters and small landlords, including those in disadvantaged communities that have suffered disproportionately in terms of pollution and other environmental harms, aren’t put in the position where they can’t cover their own housing expenses. This program includes a competitive set-aside of funding for states to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency projects that reduce electricity bills for families in disadvantaged communities.
  • Deliver $5 billion in emergency assistance to help secure housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This funding will allow states and localities to help approximately 200,000 individuals and families obtain stable housing, while providing a downpayment on the president-elect’s comprehensive approach to ending homelessness and making housing a right for all Americans. Specifically, these funds will provide flexibility for both congregate and non-congregate housing options, help jurisdictions purchase and convert hotels and motels into permanent housing, and give homeless services providers the resources they need to hire and retain staff, maintain outreach programs, and provide essential services. 

Address the growing hunger crisis in America. About 1 in 7 households nationwide, including more than 1 in 5 Black and Latino households and many Asian American and Pacific Islander households, are struggling to secure the food they need. While the December down payment provided $13 billion to strengthen and expand federal nutrition programs, it will not solve the hunger crisis in America. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to ensure all Americans, regardless of background, have access to healthy, affordable groceries. The president-elect’s plan will:

  • Extend the 15 percent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increase. Maintaining the increase through the summer — when childhood hunger spikes due to a lack of school meals — is a critical backstop against rising food insecurity. This change will help keep hunger at bay for around 40 million Americans. The president-elect is calling for this to be extended through September 2021. He is also committed to providing this boost for as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues, and will work with Congress on ways to automatically adjust the length and amount of relief depending on health and economic conditions so future legislative delay doesn’t undermine the recovery and families’ access to benefits they need.
  • Invest $3 billion to help women, infants and children get the food they need. This multi-year investment in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is needed to account for increased enrollment due to growing hunger and to increase outreach to ensure that low-income families have access to high-quality nutritious food and nutrition education. 
  • Partner with restaurants to feed American families and keep restaurant workers on the job at the same time. The FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act will leverage the resources and expertise of the restaurant industry to help get food to families who need it, and help get laid-off restaurant workers across the country back on the job.
  • Support SNAP by temporarily cutting the state match. The president-elect is calling for a one time emergency infusion of administrative support for state anti-hunger and nutrition programs to ensure that benefits get to the kids and families that need it most.
  • Provide U.S. Territories with $1 billion in additional nutrition assistance for their residents. Bolstering the Nutrition Assistance Program block grant will help thousands of working families in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands put food on the table for the duration of the pandemic.

Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Throughout the pandemic, millions of American workers have put their lives on the line to keep their communities and country functioning, including the 40 percent of frontline workers who are people of color. As President-elect Biden has said, let’s not just praise them, let’s pay them. Hard working Americans deserve sufficient wages to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, without having to keep multiple jobs. But millions of working families are struggling to get by. This is why the president-elect is calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and end the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities so that workers across the country can live a middle class life and provide opportunity for their families. 

Call on employers to meet their obligations to frontline essential workers and provide back hazard pay. Essential workers — who are disproportionately Black, Latino, and Asian American and Pacific Islander — have risked their lives to stock shelves, harvest crops, and care for the sick during this crisis. They have kept the country running even during the darkest days of the pandemic. A number of large employers, especially in the retail and grocery sectors, have seen bumper profitability in 2020 and yet done little or nothing at all to compensate their workers for the risks they took. The president-elect believes these employers have a duty to do right by their frontline essential workers and acknowledge their sacrifices with generous back hazard pay for the risks they took across 2020 and up to today. He and the vice president-elect will call on CEOs and other business leaders to take action to meet these obligations.

Expand access to high-quality, affordable child care. We are facing an acute, immediate child care crisis in America, which is exacerbating our economic crisis. Due to increased costs and lower enrollment, a recent survey of child care providers showed that most child care providers expect that they will close within a few months without relief or are uncertain how long they can stay open. If left unaddressed, many child care providers will close — some permanently — and millions of children could go without necessary care, and millions of parents could be left to make devastating choices this winter between caring for their children and working to put food on the table. Early childcare providers are almost entirely women, among whom 40 percent are people of color, and so these closures could devastate engines of opportunity for minority- and women-owned businesses. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to take immediate actions to address this crisis by helping child care centers reopen and remain open safely, and by making that care affordable to families who need it. 

In addition, too many families are unable to afford child care, while early educators earn wages so low that they can’t support their own families. This challenge existed before COVID-19, and the pandemic has exacerbated it. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to ease the financial burden of care for families, expand financial support for child care providers so that this critical sector can stay afloat during the pandemic and beyond, and make critical investments to improve wages and benefits for the essential child care sector. President-elect Biden’s plan will:

  • Help hard-hit child care providers, including family child care homes, cover their costs and operate safely by creating a $25 billion emergency stabilization fund. This Emergency Stabilization Fund will help hard-hit child care providers that are in danger of closing and provide support to nearly half of all child care providers. It will also assist those that have had to shut down meet their financial obligations during the pandemic, so that they can reopen. It will help providers pay for rent, utilities, and payroll, as well as increased costs associated with the pandemic including personal protective equipment, ventilation supplies, smaller group sizes, and modifications to make the physical environment safer for children and workers.
  • Expand child care assistance to help millions of families and help parents return to work. Millions of parents are risking their lives as essential workers, while at the same time struggling to obtain care for their children. Others have become 24/7 caregivers while simultaneously working remotely. Still more are unemployed, caring for their children full-time, and worrying about how they will make ends meet or afford child care when they do find a job. And, the limited access to child care during the pandemic has caused more women to leave the workforce. While the December down payment provides $10 billion in funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, the president-elect’s proposal expands this investment with an additional $15 billion in funding, including for those who experienced a job interruption during the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to afford child care. This additional assistance with child care costs will help the disproportionate number of women who left the labor force to take on caregiving duties reenter the workforce. And, this expanded investment will also help rebuild the supply of child care providers, and encourage states to take meaningful steps towards increasing the pay and benefits of child care workers.
  • Increase tax credits to help cover the cost of childcare. To help address the childcare affordability crisis, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to expand child care tax credits on an emergency basis for one year to help working families cover the cost of childcare. Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, so that they can receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. The tax credit will be refundable, meaning that families who don’t owe a lot in taxes will still benefit. The full 50 percent reimbursement will be available to families making less than $125,000 a year. And, all families making between $125,000 and $400,000 will receive a partial credit so they receive benefits at least as generous as those they can receive today.

Bolster financial security for families and essential workers in the midst of the pandemic. The lowest income families are particularly vulnerable in the midst of the pandemic, and President-elect Biden is calling for one year expansions of key supports for families on an emergency basis. The Child Tax Credit should be made fully refundable for the year. Currently, 27 million children live in families with household incomes low enough that they didn’t qualify for the full value of the Child Tax Credit, and this measure would give these children and their families additional needed resources. The president-elect is also calling to increase the credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6) and make 17 year-olds qualifying children for the year.

He is also calling for an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for the year to ensure that the lowest income workers get critical support including millions of essential workers. He is proposing to raise the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults from roughly $530 to close to $1,500, raise the income limit for the credit from about $16,000 to about $21,000, and expand the age range that is eligible including by eliminating the age cap for older workers and expanding eligibility for younger workers so that they can claim the credit they deserve. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults would give a needed boost to the earnings of several million workers, including cashiers, home health aides, delivery people, and other people working in essential occupations. The president-elect also is committed to making sure that Americans who see their earnings fall in 2021 due to the pandemic don’t see the Earned Income Tax Credit reduced as a result.

Lastly, the president-elect is calling for an additional $1 billion for states to cover the additional cash assistance that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients needed as a result of the pandemic crisis. The pandemic has led to increased TANF caseloads, generated higher costs for many TANF recipients — from higher utility costs to the need for internet access for remote schooling — and longer periods of joblessness given high unemployment. These funds will provide sorely needed relief.

Preserving and expanding health coverage. Roughly two to three million people lost employer sponsored health insurance between March and September, and even families who have maintained coverage may struggle to pay premiums and afford care. Further, going into this crisis, 30 million people were without coverage, limiting their access to the health care system in the middle of a pandemic. To ensure access to health coverage, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to subsidize continuation health coverage (COBRA) through the end of September. He is also asking Congress to expand and increase the value of the Premium Tax Credit to lower or eliminate health insurance premiums and ensure enrollees — including those who never had coverage through their jobs — will not pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for coverage. Together, these policies would reduce premiums for more than ten million people and reduce the ranks of the uninsured by millions more. 

Expanding access to behavioral health services. The pandemic has made access to mental health and substance use disorder services more essential than ever. The president-elect is calling on Congress to appropriate $4 billion to enable the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to these vital services.

Ensure adequate funding for veterans’ health. COVID-19 has put enormous pressure on America’s veterans and on the Veterans Health Administration that is charged with providing and facilitating top-notch care for them. The president-elect is committed to ensuring America delivers on its promise to the people who have served our country. To account for increased usage as many veterans have lost access to private health insurance, higher overall costs, and other pandemic-related impacts, the president-elect is immediately requesting an additional $20 billion to make sure that veterans’ health care needs can be met through this crisis. 

Combat increased risk of gender-based violence. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated domestic violence and sexual assault, creating a “shadow pandemic” for many women and girls who are largely confined to their home with their abuser and facing economic insecurity that makes escape more difficult. President Biden is calling for at least $800 million in supplemental funding for key federal programs that protect survivors.  
 

Provide Critical Support to Struggling Communities. 

COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis has devastated communities across the country. Schools remain closed, with students struggling with remote learning and parents — 1.6 million mothers this fall — leaving the workforce. Small businesses, the backbones of their communities that employ nearly half of American workers, are unable to keep their doors open. And, some state and local essential workers are seeing their wages reduced or their jobs disappear. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to send a lifeline to small businesses; protect educators, public transit workers, and first responders from lay-offs; and keep critical services running at full strength. Altogether, his plan would provide approximately $440 billion in critical support to struggling communities. This is in addition to funds that President-elect Biden is requesting for safely reopening schools throughout the country.

President-elect Biden’s plan will:

Provide small businesses with the funding they need to reopen and rebuild. Small businesses sustain half of the private sector jobs in America, and they have struggled in the wake of COVID-19. Black- and Brown-owned small businesses, and those in hard-hit industries like restaurants, hotels, and the arts, have suffered disproportionately. Nationally, small business revenue is down 32 percent, and at least 400,000 firms have permanently closed. To help hard-hit firms survive the pandemic and fully recover, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to:

  • Provide grants to more than 1 million of the hardest hit small businesses. This $15 billion in flexible, equitably distributed grants will help small businesses get back on their feet, put the current disaster behind them, and build back better. 
  • Leverage $35 billion in government funds into $175 billion in additional small business lending and investment. With a $35 billion investment in successful state, local, tribal, and non-profit small business financing programs, Congress can generate as much as $175 billion in low-interest loans and venture capital to help entrepreneurs — including those in the clean energy sector — innovate, create and maintain jobs, build wealth, and provide the essential goods and services that communities depend on.

In addition, the president-elect wants to work with Congress to make sure that restaurants, bars, and other businesses that have suffered disproportionately have sufficient support to bridge to the recovery, including through the Community Credit Corporation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

Provide support for first responders and other essential workers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, first responders, frontline public health workers, and countless other essential workers have risked their lives to keep our communities safe and functioning. Educators have worked tirelessly to keep our children learning and growing, coming up with new ways to reach and engage their students, often while balancing caring for their own children. Without these front line workers, we will not be able to effectively respond to the pandemic, administer the vaccine, or safely reopen our schools. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments to ensure that they are in a position to keep front line public workers on the job and paid, while also effectively distributing the vaccine, scaling testing, reopening schools, and maintaining other vital services. The president-elect is also calling on Congress to allocate $3 billion of this funding to the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Grants from EDA provide resources directly to state and local government entities, tribal institutions, institutions of higher education, and non-profits to fund initiatives that support bottom’s up economic development and enable good-paying jobs. This funding — double the amount provided by the CARES Act — will support communities nationwide with a broad range of financial needs as they respond to and recover from COVID-19.

Protect the future of public transit. Safe and dependable public transit systems are critical for a robust and equitable economy recovery. The president-elect is calling for $20 billion in relief for the hardest hit public transit agencies. This relief will keep agencies from laying off transit workers and cutting the routes that essential workers rely on every day while making these transit systems more resilient and ensuring that communities of color maintain the access to opportunity that public transportation provides. 

Support Tribal governments’ response to COVID-19. COVID-19 has exacted an especially high toll in Indian Country. People living on reservations are four times more likely to have COVID-19 and American Indian and Alaska Natives are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans. While the December down payment had many beneficial provisions, it included little direct funding to help Tribal governments respond to COVID-19. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to give Tribes the resources they need to obtain sufficient personal protective equipment, increase access to clean water and electricity, and expand internet access so that children can learn remotely and more families can obtain basic health care through telemedicine. President-elect Biden’s plan would invest $20 billion in Indian Country to support Tribal governments’ response to the pandemic. These resources will help to reduce stark and persistent inequities in COVID-19 transmission, hospitalization, and death, while improving economic conditions and opportunity. 

Modernize federal information technology to protect against future cyber attacks. 

In addition to the COVID-19 crisis, we also face a crisis when it comes to the nation’s cybersecurity. The recent cybersecurity breaches of federal government data systems underscore the importance and urgency of strengthening U.S. cybersecurity capabilities. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to launch the most ambitious effort ever to modernize and secure federal IT and networks. To remediate the SolarWinds breach and boost U.S. defenses, including of the COVID-19 vaccine process, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to: 

  • Expand and improve the Technology Modernization Fund. A $9 billion investment will help the U.S. launch major new IT and cybersecurity shared services at the Cyber Security and Information Security Agency (CISA) and the General Services Administration and complete modernization projects at federal agencies. In addition, the president-elect is calling on Congress to change the fund’s reimbursement structure in order to fund more innovative and impactful projects.
  • Surge cybersecurity technology and engineering expert hiring. Providing the Information Technology Oversight and Reform fund with $200 million will allow for the rapid hiring of hundreds of experts to support the federal Chief Information Security Officer and U.S. Digital Service. 
  • Build shared, secure services to drive transformational projects. Investing $300 million in no-year funding for Technology Transformation Services in the General Services Administration will drive secure IT projects forward without the need of reimbursement from agencies. 
  • Improving security monitoring and incident response activities. An additional $690M for CISA will bolster cybersecurity across federal civilian networks, and support the piloting of new shared security and cloud computing services.

Biden Unveils His ‘American Rescue Plan’ to Defeat Coronavirus Pandemic, Bring Economic Relief

President-Elect Joe Biden described the first part of his two-pronged plan of Rescue and Recovery from the surging coronavirus pandemic and the economic devastation. “A two-step plan to build a bridge to the other side of the crises we face and to a better, stronger, more secure America…the first step — the American Rescue Plan — that will tackle the pandemic and get direct financial assistance and relief to Americans who need it the most.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President-Elect Joe Biden described the first part of his two-pronged plan of Rescue and Recovery from the surging coronavirus pandemic and the economic devastation. In the first of two speeches, he detailed his Rescue Plan to speed up distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations and economic relief to families, states and localities.

Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks, delivered from Wilmington, Delaware, on January 14: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Good evening, my fellow Americans.

It’s been three hundred and forty-three days since the virus that has ravaged our nation tragically claimed its first life.

On February 6, 2020, Patricia Dowd took her last breath at home, under the California sun of Santa Clara. She was 57 years old. A beloved wife, mother, daughter, and sister. She never knew she had the virus, at a time when most folks never even heard about the virus. But just like that, she was gone.

Almost exactly one year later, nearly 400,000 of our fellow Americans have met the same cruel fate. Countless families and friends left behind, with unrelenting grief and guilt, anger and frustration. And the emptiness felt by the loss of life is compounded by the loss of our way of life.

During this pandemic, millions of Americans — through no fault of their own — have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck.

Millions of Americans who never thought they’d be out of work are facing eviction or waiting hours in their car to feed their families as they drive up to a food bank.

Millions who have kept their job but have seen their hours and paycheck reduced are barely hanging on as well.

That is happening today in the United States of America. 

Just as we are in the midst of a dark winter of this pandemic as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths spike at record levels, there is real pain overwhelming the real economy. The one where people rely on their paycheck — not their investments — to pay their bills, their meals, and their children’s needs. 

You won’t see this pain if your score card is how things are going on Wall Street. But you will see it very clearly if you examine what the twin crises of the pandemic and the sinking economy have laid bare. 

The growing divide between those few people at the very top who are doing quite well in this economy — and the rest of America.

Just since this pandemic began, the wealth of the top 1% has grown by roughly $1.5 trillion since the end of last year — four times the amount for the entire bottom 50%.

Some 18 million Americans are still relying on unemployment insurance. 

Some 400,000 small businesses have permanently closed their doors. 

It’s not hard to see that we are in the middle of a once-in-several generation economic crisis within a once-in-several generation public health crisis.

A crisis of deep human suffering in plain sight.

And there is no time to wait.

We have to act and act now.

This is what the economists are telling us.

More importantly, it is what the values we hold in our hearts as Americans are telling us.

A growing chorus of top economists agree that, in this moment of crisis, with interest rates at historic lows, we cannot afford inaction.

It’s not just that smart fiscal investments, including deficit spending, are more urgent than ever. It’s that the return on these investments — in jobs, in racial equity — will prevent long-term economic damage and the benefits will far surpass the costs.

A growing number of top economists has shown even our debt situation will be more stable — not less stable — if we seize this moment with vision and purpose.

And so, tonight, I’d like to talk to you about our way forward. A two-step plan of rescue and recovery. A two-step plan to build a bridge to the other side of the crises we face and to a better, stronger, more secure America.

Tonight, I’ll lay out the first step — the American Rescue Plan — that will tackle the pandemic and get direct financial assistance and relief to Americans who need it the most. 

Next month, in my first appearance before a Joint Session of Congress, I will lay out the second step, my Build Back Better Recovery Plan. It will make historic investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, innovation, research and development, and clean energy. Investments in the caregiving economy and in skills and training needed by our workers to compete and win the global economy of the future.

Moody’s — an independent Wall Street firm — said this approach would create more than 18 million jobs.

Our rescue and recovery plan is the path forward with a seriousness of purpose, a clear plan with transparency and accountability with a call for unity that is equally necessary.

Unity is not a pie-in-the-sky dream, it is a practical step to getting things done.

As I said when it passed in December, the bipartisan COVID-19 relief package was an important first step. I am grateful for the Democratic, Republican, and Independent members of Congress who came together to get it done.

But as I said at the time, it’s just a down-payment. We need more action, more bipartisanship, and we need to move fast.

Our rescue plan starts aggressively in order to speed up our national COVID-19 response.

The vaccines offer so much hope. We are grateful to the scientists and researchers, and everyone who participated in the clinical trials. We are also grateful for the rigorous review and testing that’s led to millions of people around the world already being vaccinated safely.

But, the vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far.

Tomorrow, I will lay out our vaccination plan to correct course and meet our goal of 100 million shots by the end of our first 100 days.

This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts we have ever undertaken as a nation.

We will move Heaven and Earth to get more people vaccinated, to create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams to get shots in peoples’ arms, and to increase vaccine supply and get it out the door as fast as possible.

We will also do everything we can to keep our educators and students safe and to safely open a majority of our K-8 schools by the end of our first 100 days. 

We can do it, if we give school districts, communities, and states the clear guidance they need as well as the resources they will need that they can not afford right now because of the economic crisis we are in. That means more testing and transportation, additional cleaning and sanitizing services, protective equipment, and ventilation systems in the schools. 

And we need to make sure that workers who have COVID-19 symptoms and are quarantined, and those who need to take care of family members with COVID-19 symptoms should be able to stay home from work and still get paid.

This will reduce spread of the virus and make sure workers get the support they need.

But they need about $400 billion in funding from Congress to make all of this happen. 

It’s a lot, but I’m convinced we are ready to get this done. 

The very health of our nation is at stake.

Our rescue plan also includes immediate relief for Americans hardest hit and most in need.

We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in direct relief to people who need it the most. 

$600 is simply not enough if you still have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table.

Even for those who have kept their jobs these checks are really important. 

You see, if you are an American worker making $40,000 a year with less than $400 in savings, maybe you’ve lost hours, or maybe you’re doing fewer shifts driving a truck, or caring for kids, or the elderly.

You’re out there putting your life on the line to work during this pandemic and worried every week that you’ll get sick, lose your job, or worse. 

$2,000 is going to go a long way to ease that pain.

We will also provide more peace of mind for struggling families by extending unemployment insurance benefits for millions of workers.  

That means that the 18 million Americans currently relying on unemployment benefits while they look for work can count on these checks continuing to be there. Plus, there will be a $400 per week supplement to help make ends meet.

This gets money quickly into the pockets of millions of Americans who will spend it immediately on food, rent, and other basic needs. That helps our whole economy grow. 

We will also tackle the growing hunger crisis in America.

As I speak, and as Vice President-elect Harris has spoken about this many times, 1 in 7 households in America — more than 1 in 5 Black and Latino households in America – report that they do not have enough food to eat. 

This includes 30 million adults and as many as 12 million children. 

It’s wrong. It’s tragic. It’s unacceptable.

We will extend emergency nutrition assistance for 43 million children and families enrolled in the SNAP program through the rest of this year.

And we will help hard-hit restaurants prepare meals for the hungry and provide food for families who need it. 

We will also invest $3 billion in making sure mothers and their young children have the nutrition they need.

This would not only meet our moral obligation we have to one another, but it would also spur our economy and get restaurant workers back on the job.

As we work to keep people from going hungry, we will also work to keep a roof over their heads to stem the growing housing crisis in America. 

Approximately 14 million Americans have fallen behind on rent, many at risk of eviction.

If we don’t act now there will be a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months as the pandemic rages on. This would overwhelm emergency shelters and increase COVID-19 infections as people have nowhere to go and can’t socially distance.

Next week we will take action to extend nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures. This would provide more than 25 million Americans greater stability instead of living on the edge every single month. 

And, I am asking Congress to do its part by funding rental assistance for 14 million hard-hit families and tenants. It will also be a bridge to economic recovery for countless mom and pop landlords.

These crises are straining the budgets of states, cities, and tribal communities that are forced to consider layoffs and service reductions. It means the people putting their lives at risk are the very people now at risk of losing their jobs. 

Police officers. Firefighters. All first responders. Nurses. Educators. Over the last year, more than 600,000 education jobs have been lost in our cities and towns. 

Our rescue plan will provide emergency funding to keep these essential workers on the job and maintain essential services. It will ensure that vaccines are administered and schools can re-open.

Vice President-elect Harris and I have been speaking with county officials, mayors, and governors of both parties on a regular basis. We are ready to work with them to help get the relief they need.

Our rescue plan will also help small businesses that are the engines of our economic growth and economy as a whole. They are the glue that holds communities together.

But they are hurting badly, and they account for nearly half of the entire U.S. workforce.

Our rescue plan will provide flexible grants to help the hardest hit small businesses survive the pandemic. And low-cost capital to help entrepreneurs of all backgrounds create and maintain jobs, plus provide the essential goods and services that communities depend on.

Last week, I laid out how we will make sure our emergency small business relief is distributed swiftly and equitably. 

It will focus on small businesses on Main Street. It will focus on minority-owned small businesses and women-owned small businesses finally having equal access to the resources they need to reopen and rebuild. And, we will be responsible with taxpayer dollars ensuring accountability that reduces waste, fraud, or abuse like we did with the Recovery Act during the Obama-Biden Administration.

Direct cash payments. Extended unemployment insurance. Rent relief. Food assistance. Keeping essential frontline workers on the job. Aid to small businesses.

These are key elements of the American Rescue Plan that would lift 12 million Americans out of poverty and cut child poverty in half. 

That’s 5 million children lifted out of poverty. 

Our plan would reduce poverty in the Black community by one-third. It would reduce poverty in the Hispanic community by almost forty percent. 

And it includes much more, like an increase of the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. No one working 40 hours a week should still be below the poverty line. 

It includes access to affordable child care that will enable parents, particularly women, to get back to work.

I look forward to working with members of Congress from both parties to move quickly to get the American Rescue Plan to the American people.

And then we can move with equal urgency and bipartisanship to my Build Back Better Recovery Plan that I will call for next month to generate even more economic growth.

American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War II. It will be so again. Imagine the future Made in America in all of America and all by Americans. We will use taxpayer dollars to rebuild America. We will buy American products and support millions of American manufacturing jobs and enhance our competitive strength in an increasingly competitive world.

Imagine historic investments in Research & Development to sharpen America’s innovative edge in markets where global leadership is up for grabs, markets like battery technology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and clean energy.

Imagine confronting the climate crisis with American jobs and ingenuity leading the world.

It’s time to stop talking about infrastructure and finally start building it
. Millions of good-paying jobs that put Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, and ports to make them more climate resilient, to make it faster, cheaper, and cleaner to transport American-made goods across our country and around the world.

And, imagine millions of jobs in our caregiving economy to ease the financial burden of caring for young children and aging loved ones. Let’s make sure our caregivers, mostly women, women of color, and immigrants, have the pay and dignity they deserve.

We can do these bold, practical things now. 

I know what I just described will not come cheaply. But failing to do so will cost us dearly. But the consensus among leading economists is we simply cannot afford not to do it. 

Independent, respected institutions from around the world from the Federal Reserve to the International Monetary Fund have underscored the urgency. Even Wall Street firms have reinforced the logic. 

If we invest now, boldly, smartly, and with an unwavering focus on American workers and families we will strengthen our economy, reduce inequity, and put our nation’s long term finances on a more sustainable course. 

And where we are making permanent investments as I said on the campaign, we will pay for them by making sure that everyone pays their fair share in taxes.


We can do it without punishing anyone by closing tax loopholes for companies that ship American jobs overseas or that allow American companies to pay zero in federal income taxes.

Asking everyone to pay their fair share so we can make permanent investments to rescue and rebuild America is the right thing for our economy, it’s the fair thing and decent thing to do.    

But we not only have an economic imperative to act now, we have a moral obligation.

In this pandemic, in America, we cannot let people go hungry.

We cannot let people get evicted.

We cannot watch nurses and educators and others lose their jobs.

We must act now and decisively.

My fellow Americans, the decisions we make in the next few weeks and months will determine whether we thrive in a way that benefits all Americans, or whether we stay stuck in a place where those at the top do great while economic growth for most everyone else is just a spectator sport — where America’s prospects dim, not brighten.

They will determine whether we reassert American leadership and out-compete our competitors in the global economy or whether we watch them catch up and pass us by.

Together I know we will choose a path that includes all Americans so we own the 21st Century.

But even with all of these bold steps,it will take time to get where we need to be. There will be stumbles. But I will always be honest with you about both the progress we’re making and the setbacks meet.

Here’s the deal — the more people we vaccinate, and the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives put this pandemic behind us and get back to our lives and loved ones.

The sooner we can rescue and rebuild our economy.

I know it’s been nearly a year that’s tested us beyond measure.

For all of you who have lost someone my heart goes out to you. I know what it’s like to stare at the empty chair. For those who have fallen on hard times, I know you can never get back what you lost.

But as your president, I know that every day matters, and every person matters.

From the very first to the nearly 400,000 lost American souls and counting, and to the millions of you just looking for a fighting chance in this economy: I will not forget what you’re going through. We understand what you’re going through.

We will not give up.  

We will come back together.

While we didn’t get into all of this overnight, we won’t get out of it overnight, and we can’t do it as a divided nation. The only way we come through this is together as fellow Americans and as the United States of America.

And when we do, there is nothing beyond our capacity.

Out of all the peril of this moment I want you to know, I see all the promise as well.

I remain as optimistic about America as I have ever been.

Come Wednesday, we begin a new chapter.

May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops.

NYS Dramatically Expands Number Eligible to Schedule COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments

The Initial Groups of Phase 1b Now Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Include Individuals 75 and Older, First Responders, Corrections Officers, Teachers and Other School Staff; In-Person College Instructors, Childcare Workers, Public Facing Grocery Store Workers, Transit Workers and Individuals Living and Working in Homeless Shelters

Vaccine Administrations to Begin at Hundreds of New Sites This Week As Part Of New York’s Newly Expanded Vaccine Distribution Network

Due to Limited Federal Distribution of Vaccine Supply All New Yorkers are Encouraged to Remain Patient When Scheduling Appointments 

Appointments Could Take Up to 14 Weeks Due to Limited Federal Allocation

Click Here to Determine Eligibility and Schedule Appointments with Administrating Providers

Nassau County, Long Island, just opened a second county vaccination site, at the Yes We Can center in a hard-hit community of Westbury. New York State has opened up eligibility to schedule a free COVID-19 vaccination  to 4 million New Yorkers, though supply lags. It could take up to 14 weeks to schedule an appointment due to limited federal allocation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the  New Yorkers within priority group 1b can now begin scheduling appointments with individual providers, including pharmacies, local health departments, and hospitals, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Those now eligible to receive the vaccine include individuals 75 and older, first responders, public safety officers, teachers and other school staff;  in-person college instructors, childcare workers, public-facing grocery store workers, transit workers and individuals living and working in homeless shelters. Eligibility determinations and a list of nearby providers where appointments can be scheduled can all be done through New York’s new ‘Am I Eligible ” app. New Yorkers can begin calling the New York State Vaccination Hotline at 4PM on Monday, January 11: 1-833-NYS-4VAX (1-833-697-4829). 

Since federal supply severely limits the ability to distribute vaccine, New Yorkers are encouraged to remain patient and are advised not to show up at vaccination sites without an appointment. New York’s vast distribution network and large population of more than 4 million eligible individuals in this priority group dwarf the vaccine supply coming from the federal government, which is arriving at a rate of approximately 300,000 doses per week. As such, eligible New Yorkers should be prepared to receive an appointment date as far as 14 weeks in the future.

“After ten long months, the expansion of eligibility for additional New Yorkers to begin making their COVID-19 vaccination plan is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Governor Cuomo. “The vaccine is the weapon that will end the war, and as we continue to prioritize healthcare workers as hospital capacity necessitates, New York is proud to have reached this milestone and we strongly encourage all who are newly eligible to schedule their free vaccination appointment as soon as possible.” 

Under New York’s expanded eligibility, the following individuals will now be eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment:

Individuals Age 75 and older

First Responders and Support Staff of First Responder Agencies

Fire Service

State Fire Service, including firefighters and investigators (professional and volunteer)

Local Fire Service, including firefighters and investigators (professional and volunteer)

Police and Investigators

State Police, including Troopers

State Park Police, DEC Police, Forest Rangers

SUNY Police

Sheriffs’ Offices

County Police Departments and Police Districts

City, Town, and Village Police Departments

Transit of other Public Authority Police Departments

State Field Investigators, including Department of Motor Vehicles, State Commission of Correction, Justice Center, Department of Financial Service, Inspector General, Department of Tax and Finance, Office of Children and Family Services, and State Liquor Authority

Public Safety Communications

Emergency Communication and Public Safety Answering Point Personnel, including dispatchers and technicians

Other Sworn and Civilian Personnel

Court Officers

Other Police or Peace Officers

Support of Civilian Staff of any of the above services, agencies or facilities

Corrections

State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Personnel, including correction and parole officers

Local Correctional Facilities, including correction officers

Local Probation Departments, including probation officers

State Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities

Local Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities

P-12 Schools

P-12 school or school district faculty or staff (includes all teachers, substitute teachers, student teachers, school administrators, paraprofessional staff, and support staff including bus drivers)

Contractors working in a P-12 school or school district (including contracted bus drivers)

In-Person College Instructors

Employees or Support Staff of Licensed, Registered, Approved or Legally Exempt Childcare Setting

Licensed, Registered, Approved or Legally Exempt Childcare Providers

In-Person College Instructors 

Public-Facing Grocery Store Workers

Public Transit

Airline and airport employees

Passenger railroad employees

Subway and mass transit employees (i.e., MTA, LIRR, Metro North, NYC Transit, Upstate transit)

Ferry employees

Port Authority employees

Public bus employee

Individuals living in a homeless shelter where sleeping, bathing or eating accommodations must be shared with individuals and families who are not part of your the same household

Individuals working (paid or unpaid) in a homeless shelter where sleeping, bathing or eating accommodations must be shared by individuals and families who are not part of the same household, in a position where there is potential for interaction with shelter residents

Until this point, 2.1 million New Yorkers in priority group 1A have been eligible to receive the vaccine. This includes patient-facing health care and other critical hospital workers, seniors living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and people with disabilities living in congregate settings. Distribution sites were established directly within hospitals, FQHCs, and urgent care clinics to provide direct access to all those eligible. To further accelerate the vaccination rate of priority health care workers, and begin the vaccination of group 1B essential workers and 75-plus year olds, New York has established a network of distribution sites that will supplement the work being done in hospitals to prevent any one hospital from becoming overburdened.

This new network will utilize doctors’ offices, Federally-Qualified Health Centers, county health departments, ambulatory centers and pharmacies to get doses in the arms of eligible New Yorkers. More than 1,200 pharmacies have already committed to participating in this network, with nearly 500 scheduled to come on-line this week. Providers across the state will begin accepting vaccination reservations on Monday, January 11 when a centralized state website goes online that lists nearby providers where appointments can be scheduled. Pharmacies will be provided vaccines for New Yorkers aged 75 and older, while hospitals will continue vaccinating 1a healthcare workers, and local health departments and union-organized efforts will serve essential workers in 1b.

Additionally, the Department of Health is setting up 20 mass distribution sites throughout the state over the next several weeks to support all categories of eligibility. Opening on Wednesday:

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (NYC)

Westchester County Convention Center (Westchester County –  in partnership with County Health Dept. and Westchester Medical Center)

State Fairgrounds (Onondaga County – in partnership with County Health Dept.)

Additional sites will be launched in the days to come.

Under this expanded vaccination network, hospitals will continue to prioritize unvaccinated members of 1A: health care workers. Additionally, large union groups, including but not limited to police, firefighters and educators, have been asked to organize plans for vaccinating their members to the extent possible, incorporating coordination and partnership with local health departments. This will enable other providers in the network to focus on New Yorkers over the age of 75, which represents the largest group in 1B at approximately 1.4 million people.

Nassau County Opens Second COVID-19 Vaccination Site; New York State Expands Eligibility

At the Yes We Can Center in Westbury, which became Nassau County’s second vaccination distribution site, Alex Miller of Port Washington, a special language pathologist, is vaccinated by Dr. Kevin Glassman, a volunteer with Nassau County’s Medical Reserve Corps © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Nassau County, Long Island, opened its second COVID-19 vaccine distribution center, in partnership between the County, Northwell Health and New York State at the “Yes We Can” Community Center in Westbury. The vaccines will be administered by Nassau County Department of Health staff, Members of Nassau County’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) with assistance from Northwell Health, which has been designated by New York State as Long Island’s vaccination HUB.  The center began vaccinations on Saturday, January 9 for residents who met the criteria set by New York State. 

Together with Nassau Community College site, Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau County Commissioner of Health, anticipates administering up to 1,000 shots a day, depending upon supply of doses.

“Nassau County is leading the way with distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine as we open another vaccine POD,” said Nassau County Executive Curran. “Along with our hospital partners, we have already vaccinated tens of thousands of residents–we are not wasting any time or any doses.

“I am committed to providing equitable access to the vaccine, especially in our hardest hit communities such as the Westbury/New Cassel area,” she said. ”The County will continue to build the infrastructure to dole out this vaccine as quickly and effectively as possible as supply comes in. Thank you to all the volunteers who are the gears keeping our vaccine machine running at full speed.  I encourage all residents who are eligible to roll up their sleeve and get the vaccine.  We can do it, Nassau!”

The site at the “Yes We Can” Community Center in Westbury will be operating 7 days a week to vaccinate eligible residents with an appointment.  The announcement comes less than a week after the first County vaccine center opened at Nassau Community College and inoculated over one thousand people. 

New York State continues to expand the criteria for who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For regular updates on who is currently eligible for the vaccine under New York State’s guidance and to make an appointment, residents can visit the County’s vaccine website at www.nassaucountyny.gov/vaccine. Only those who meet the criteria can make an appointment at this time. The vaccine will be provided for free regardless of insurance or immigration status. 

As of Friday, January 8, those who are eligible to be vaccinated are:

  • High-risk hospital staff, affiliates, volunteers and contract staff including State-operated Office of Mental Health (OMH) psychiatric centers
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Personnel
  • Medical Examiners and Coroners
  • Funeral workers who have direct contact with infectious material and bodily fluids.
  • Health care, other high-risk direct care essential staff and agency staff working in Long Term Care Facilities and long-term, congregate settings overseen by Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS).
  • Residents living in Long Term Care Facilities and in long-term congregate settings overseen by OPWDD, OMH and OASAS
  • FQHC staff
  • Urgent Care providers
  • Any staff administering COVID-19 vaccinations
  • All public facing health care workers including those who provide direct in-person patient care or other staff in a position where they have direct contact with patients.
  • Hospice workers and home health aides
  • Law Enforcement with ALS (advanced lifesaving) certification 

But as of Monday, January 11, the state is expanding the list of those who are eligible to be vaccinated, to Group 1B essential workers including education workers, first responders, public safety workers, public transit workers and people 75 and older.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran discusses opening a second county COVID-19 vaccination site at the North Hempstead Yes We Can Community Center, in a community that has been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Also on hand: Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau County Commissioner of Health; North Hempstead Councilwoman Viviana Russell, Nassau County Legislator Siela A. Bynoe, and State Senator Anna Kaplan © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“A successful, equitable rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is the key to ensuring New Yorkers are protected from the coronavirus, and our community is able to reopen and recover from the pandemic era,” said State Senator Anna Kaplan. “It’s critical that every community have access to this life-saving resource, and I’m grateful to County Executive Curran and Governor Cuomo for working together to open a vaccination distribution center at the Yes We Can Center in Westbury. I encourage everyone in our community to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated as soon as they are able.” 

“Residents of communities like New Cassel and Westbury have played an indispensable role in Nassau County’s pandemic response through their labor as frontline workers, medical professionals and first responders. By establishing this site at the Yes We Can Center, Nassau County and the Town of North Hempstead are recognizing the valiant efforts of these essential workers,” said Nassau County Legislator Siela A. Bynoe.“Most importantly, we are increasing access to the COVID-19 vaccine by embedding this life-saving service in a residential community that has been greatly impacted by the pandemic.”

“The early emergence of COVID-19 vaccines has brought on much needed optimism for the future,” said North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth.”While availability has been limited, more residents will become eligible to receive the vaccine as distribution centers continue to open and New York’s supply increases. With that said, we are proud to partner with County Executive Curran to make vaccinations available at our facility in Westbury.”

“As a Town we continue to collectively monitor and address the uphill battle of the current pandemic caused by Covid -19 and now the virus’ variant strain of B117. Having access to the newly available Moderna vaccine at a Point of Distribution location set up here at our easily accessible “Yes We Can” Community Center now provides a strong opportunity to keep this deadly virus at bay. As a heavily impacted area, this POD will greatly benefit the community and serve as a strong deterrent against the virus here in New Cassel/Westbury and the surrounding areas,” said North Hempstead Councilwoman Viviana Russell.

Curran said that wide-scale vaccination is key to returning to normalcy, reopening businesses and having kids in school, but until then, and especially with a new, more transmissible strain of the coronavirus now in Long Island, residents must continue to wear masks, keep social distance and wash hands.

How fast a critical mass of people can become vaccinated depends on the supply of the vaccines – so far Pfizer and Moderna are available. It is expected that a third and fourth vaccine, ones that require only a single dose, will also soon be on line.

“We’re putting out doses as fast as we can,” Curran said she said it is likely that by late spring, enough will be available so that anyone who wants a vaccination will be able to get one. I think we will have a relatively normal summer.”

In response to new concerns over the UK strain found in a 64-year old Massapequa man, Dr. Eisenstein said “All viruses mutate. We knew this one would mutate. People should do exactly what they have been doing to protect themselves. We’re not panicked by it. We have the weapon” – the vaccine.

Administering the Moderna vaccination at the Yes We Can Community Center, Westbury, Long Island © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

State Expands Vaccine Distribution Network

On Friday, Governor Cuomo Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the expansion of the state’s vaccination distribution network to help accelerate the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to New Yorkers currently eligible under group 1A and begin the vaccination of New Yorkers eligible under group 1B. As part of this effort, thousands of new providers and distribution sites are being identified throughout the state. Essential workers and New Yorkers over the age of 75 can begin to make vaccination reservations at administration sites as early as Monday, January 11.

“Over the past week, we have seen hospitals increase their vaccination rates and I thank them for their efforts, but it’s still not enough, so we’re going to accelerate the distribution,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are establishing a network of thousands of providers statewide to both supplement the work of hospitals to vaccinate health care workers, as well as begin the vaccination of other essential workers and individuals 75 and older. The federal government controls the supply, so as we continue to receive more, New York will not only ensure doses are distributed in the most fair and socially equitable way possible, but that health care workers continue to be prioritized so our hospitals remain safe and staffed.”

Currently, 2.1 million New Yorkers in group 1A have been eligible to receive the vaccine. This includes health care and hospital workers, seniors living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and people with disabilities living in congregate settings. Distribution sites were established directly within hospitals to provide direct access to all those eligible. While the speed of vaccinations has increased throughout the past week, further acceleration is still needed.

To further accelerate the vaccination rate of priority health care workers, and begin the vaccination of group 1B essential workers and 75-plus year olds, New York has established a network of additional distribution sites that will supplement the work being done in hospitals to prevent any one hospital from becoming overburdened. The largest group, 3.2 million New Yorkers will be eligible to receive the vaccine in 1B, including:

870,000 Education workers

207,000 first responders

100,000 public safety workers

100,000 public transit workers

1.4 million people 75 and older

This new network will utilize doctors’ offices, Federally-Qualified Health Centers, county health departments, ambulatory centers and pharmacies to get doses in the arms of eligible New Yorkers. More than 1,200 pharmacies have already committed to participating in this network, with nearly 500 scheduled to come on-line next week. Providers across the state will begin accepting vaccination reservations on Monday, January 11 when a centralized state website goes online.

Additionally, the Department of Health is setting up 20 mass distribution sites throughout the state over the next several weeks, with the first of those sites, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, slated to open its doors on Wednesday, January 13.

Prioritization

Under this expanded vaccination network, new providers will prioritize their health care workers and hospitals will continue to prioritize unvaccinated members of 1A: health care workers. Additionally, large union groups, including but not limited to police, firefighters and educators, have been asked to organize plans for vaccinating their members to the extent possible. If viable plans are established, these groups will receive weekly allocations from their local health departments. This will enable other providers in the network to focus on New Yorkers over the age of 75, which represents the largest group in 1B at approximately 1.4 million people.

New York is mandating social equity and fair distribution among the groups included in 1B to ensure fair treatment and proportionate allocations both by group and by region. For example, New Yorkers 75 years of age and older represent approximately 45 percent of the population within group 1B and as such, 45 percent of the 1B vaccine supply will be reserved for them. Similarly, 5.9 percent of New York’s 75+ population reside in the Capital District, so 5.9 percent of the allocation for New Yorkers 75+ will be directed to the Capital District. The state will open distribution sites in underserved areas to ensure social equity.

Staffing

To support the increased staffing needs resulting from the establishment of this vaccination network, the Governor has signed an Executive Order to expand the eligible pool of trainees who can administer vaccinations at distribution sites to include:

Licensed Practical Nurses

Pharmacists

Pharmacy Technicians

Midwives

Dentists

Certain Dental Hygienists

Podiatrists

Emergency Medical Technicians

Certain Eligible Students

The expanded vaccination program is welcome at a time when the county and the state are in the midst of a second-wave surge on top of a surge. As of Saturday, January 9, the seven-day positivity rate was 8.7%, 761 were hospitalized, 115 in ICU – the highest number since May – 66 on ventilators and 10 county residents died.

“Tens of thousands of Nassau residents have already received their first vaccine shots with over 1,000 just at the County’s POD (Point of Distribution) at Nassau Community College since Jan 5 alone,” Curran said.

“I have asked that the State increase eligibility and today it was announced that they are expanding beginning on Monday. Every day is crucial, and we must continue to pick up the pace. We’ve concentrated on vaccinating medical and frontline residents as fast as possible so that we can focus on groups like residents over 75, Police, Teachers, Firefighters, Corrections Officers, and more. The County will continue mobilizing its resources at full scale to expedite the vaccine distribution process, and we expect to open another POD tomorrow.

“With vaccine distribution ramping up and cases surging at the same time, my message to residents is simple: Hold fast and stay strong. Help is on the way.”

To make an appointment for a vaccination, go to www.nassaucountyny.gov/vaccine.

Check if you are eligible to receive the vaccine here

Eligible residents can click here to register to be vaccinated at Nassau Community College through New York State’s system.

Eligible residents can click here to register to be vaccinated at the Yes We Can Community Center, 141 Garden Street, Westbury, NY through New York State’s system.

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