Category Archives: Health Care

Biden, CDC Warn of ‘Impending Doom’ if Americans Let Up on COVID-19 Precautions Before Vaccinations Widespread

President Biden unveiled new actions to get more people vaccinated quickly and announce that by April 19, 90% of adults in the U.S. will be eligible for vaccination and 90% will have a vaccination site within 5 miles of where they live, but warned that this is no time for Americans to lift the precautions of mask-wearing and social distancing © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Impending doom,” is how Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expressed her fear in an emotional appeal to Americans to stay the course in order to finally get the coronavirus pandemic under control, that despite the pace of vaccinations, it is still too early to abandon mask-wearing and social distancing to prevent what she feared would be a fourth wave.

She related “the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.  We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared.  I know what it’s like as a physician to stand in that patient room — gowned, gloved, masked, shielded — and to be the last person to touch someone else’s loved one because their loved one couldn’t be there.
 
“I know what it’s like when you’re the physician, when you’re the healthcare provider and you’re worried that you don’t have the resources to take care of the patients in front of you.  I know that feeling of nausea when you read the crisis standards of care and you wonder whether there are going to be enough ventilators to go around and who’s going to make that choice.  And I know what it’s like to pull up to your hospital every day and see the extra morgue sitting outside.
 
“I didn’t know at the time when it was — when it would stop; we didn’t have the science to tell us.  We were just scared.  We have come such a long way.  Three historic scientific breakthrough vaccines, and we are rolling them out so very fast. 
 
“So I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director — not only as your CDC director but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer.  I so badly want to be done.  I know you all so badly want to be done.  We are just almost there but not quite yet.  And so I’m asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends.
 
“The trajectory of the pandemic in the United States looks similar to many other countries in Europe, including Germany, Italy, and France looked like just a few weeks ago.  And since that time, those countries have experienced a consistent and worrying spike in cases.  We are not powerless; we can change this trajectory of the pandemic.  But it will take all of us, recommitting to following the public health prevention strategies consistently, while we work to get the American public vaccinated. 
 
“I’m calling on our elected officials, our faith-based communities, our civic leaders, and our other influencers in communities across the nation, and I’m calling on every single one of you to sound the alarm to carry these messages into your community and your spheres of influence.  We do not have the luxury of inaction.  For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge. 
 
“And after that honest plea, I want to reflect on so many reasons we have to be hopeful and why your actions today can get us out of this soon.  As I shared last week, we continue to get more and more real-world evidence on the protection of COVID-19 vaccines provide.  And CDC scientists have been working since these vaccines were first authorized to expand the evidence supporting their effectiveness,” she said.

Biden: ‘This is Deadly Serious’

President Joe Biden in remarks later on expanding access to COVID-19 vaccinations, said, “Our progress on vaccination is a stunning example that there is nothing — nothing this country cannot do if we put our minds to it and we do it together. 
 
“But as I’ve also said, I will always give you it straight — straight from the shoulder.  Our work is far from over.  The war against COVID-19 is far from won.  This is deadly serious…

“This is not the time to lessen our efforts.  That’s what [CDC Director Rochelle Walensky] said.  We could still see a setback in the vaccination program.  And most importantly, if we let our guard down now, we could see a virus getting worse, not better. 
 
“You know, as many people as we have vaccinated, we still have more Americans left to go.  You know, we will administer more shots in March than any country on Earth.  But even so, we have to give more shots in April than we did in March.  Because we’re in the life and death race for the virus that is spreading quickly with cases rising again.  New variants are spreading.  And sadly, some of the reckless behavior we’ve seen on television over the past few weeks means that more new cases are to come in the weeks ahead.
 
“With vaccines, there’s hope, which is a — which is a very good thing, to state the obvious.  But people are let — are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing.  Look, to this point, cases have fallen two thirds since I took office.  Deaths have also fallen two thirds.  But now cases are going back up and, in some states, deaths are as well.  You know, we’re giving up hard-fought, hard-won gains.  And as much as we are doing, America, it is time to do even more.  All of us have to do our part, every one of us….”

 FACT SHEET:

President Biden Announces 90% of the Adult U.S. Population will be Eligible for Vaccination and 90% will have a Vaccination Site Within 5 Miles of Home by April 19

New Actions to Accomplish Goal: Expanding Pharmacy Program and Launching a New Program to Transport the Most Vulnerable Seniors and People with Disabilities to Vaccination Sites

President Biden unveiled new actions to get more people vaccinated quickly and announce that by April 19, 90% of adults in the U.S. will be eligible for vaccination and 90% will have a vaccination site within 5 miles of where they live. The President announced that the Administration is increasing the number of pharmacies in the federal pharmacy vaccination program from 17,000 to nearly 40,000 across the country and will stand up a dozen more mass vaccination sites by April 19.  He also announced a new effort to fund community organizations to provide transportation and assistance for the nation’s most at-risk seniors and people with disabilities to access vaccines. This builds on last week’s historic $10 billion investment to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines in the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities.

President Biden called for all states, Tribes, and territories to make all U.S. adults eligible for vaccination no later than May 1 and is working closely with state and local leaders to make this happen as quickly as possible. To date, 31 states have said they will open up eligibility to all adults by April 19. With today’s actions to expand access, that means in just three weeks, 90% of all U.S. adults will be eligible for vaccination and 90% will have a vaccination site within 5 miles of where they live.

The President reminded Americans about the importance of taking preventative measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, as variants continue to spread and cases are on the rise. He called for continued masking and social distancing as we work to get more people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Actions include:

Expanding Vaccines to 20,000 More Local Pharmacies, Bringing the Total to Nearly 40,000 Pharmacies Across the Country by April 19: The President will announce that the Administration is expanding the Federal Retail Pharmacy program from 17,000 to nearly 40,000 stores within the next three weeks. This means that by April 19, there will be a vaccine site within 5 miles of 90% of all Americans. The participating pharmacies in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program are located in communities across the country – including 45% currently in the highest-need neighborhoods.

Launching New Effort to Get the Nation’s Most Vulnerable and At-Risk Seniors and People with Disabilities Vaccinated: The President will announce nearly $100 million in funding to help vaccinate vulnerable and at-risk older adults and people with disabilities. This new effort will expand the senior and disability services funded by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide the high-intensity assistance needed to get these individuals scheduled for and transported to vaccinations. It will also fund community organizations to transport them to appointments, which can involve extra time, assistance with mobility, and supporting people during wait times. Funding will be available starting within two weeks. The Administration has made tremendous progress on vaccinating seniors, with over 70% of people over 65 years old receiving at least one shot, and this new program will help vaccinate our most vulnerable and at-risk seniors and people with disabilities who have yet to be vaccinated, including those who need assistance leaving their home or are socially isolated. 

Expanding the Number of Mass Vaccination Centers Across the Country: The President will announce that the Administration will stand up a dozen more federally-run mass vaccination sites across the country, including two new sites in Gary, Indiana and St. Louis, Missouri announced earlier today. Equity and access are prioritized in the design of the federal community vaccination centers, with some featuring weekend and extended daytime hours, reserved slots for registration through faith-based and community-based organizations, and deployment of mobile vaccination units to help vaccinate surrounding communities. This is in addition to the over $4 billion federal funding obligated to date and thousands of federal personnel deployed to support state- and locally-run community vaccination centers. In partnership with states, FEMA has launched 21 sites in communities across the country. Together, these sites have the ability to administer a total of 79,000 shots per day at full capacity.

2021 Special Enrollment Period Access Extended to August 15 on HealthCare.gov for Obamacare

President Biden announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is extending access to the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace until August 15 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, President Biden announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is extending access to the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace until August 15 – giving consumers additional time to take advantage of new savings through the American Rescue Plan. This action provides new and current enrollees an additional three months to enroll or re-evaluate their coverage needs with increased tax credits available to reduce premiums.

“Every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care – especially as we fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Through this Special Enrollment Period, the Biden Administration is giving the American people the chance they need to find an affordable health care plan that works for them. The American Rescue Plan will bring costs down for millions of Americans, and I encourage consumers to visit HealthCare.gov and sign up for a plan before August 15.”

As a result of the American Rescue Plan, additional savings will be available for consumers through HealthCare.gov starting April 1. These savings will decrease premiums for many, on average, by $50 per person per month and $85 per policy per month. On average, one out of four enrollees on HeathCare.gov will be able to upgrade to a higher plan category that offers better out of pocket costs at the same or lower premium compared to what they’re paying today. 

Consumers who want to access the SEP to enroll in coverage and see if they qualify for financial help to reduce the cost of monthly premiums, can visit HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov to view 2021 plans and prices and enroll in a plan that best meets their needs. Additionally, consumers can call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596, which provides assistance in over 150 languages. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325.  Consumers can also find a local assister or agent/broker in their area: https://localhelp.healthcare.gov

Consumers who are eligible and enroll under the SEP will be able to select a plan with coverage that could start as soon as the first month after plan selection. Current enrollees will be able to change to any plan available to them in their area. To take advantage of the SEP, current enrollees should review their application and make changes, if needed, to their current information and submit their application in order to receive an updated eligibility result.

Additionally, beginning in early July on HealthCare.gov, consumers who have received or have been determined eligible to receive unemployment compensation for any week during 2021 may be able to get another increase in savings when enrolling in new Marketplace coverage or updating their existing Marketplace application and enrollment. These savings to be made available starting in early July for eligible consumers are in addition to the increased savings available to consumers on HealthCare.gov starting April 1.

The SEP is currently available to consumers in the 36 states that use the HealthCare.gov platform. Consumers served by State-based Marketplaces that use their own platform can check their state’s website to find out more information on Special Enrollment Periods in their state.

To see how the American Rescue Plan will bring down health care costs and expand on the Affordable Care Act, visit: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/03/12/fact-sheet-american-rescue-plan-reduces-health-care-costs-expands-access-insurance-coverage.html.

Biden Announces All Americans to be Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccinations by May 1; Puts Nation on Path to Normalcy by July 4th

President Joe Biden announced a national strategy for COVID19 vaccination so that every American will be eligible by May 1, new website to make it easier to find, efforts to combat variants, and goal of July 4th “independence” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In his first prime time public address to the nation, coming exactly one year after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus pandemic, one year since the nation shut down, and just hours after signing what is being hailed as the “historic,” “transformative” $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, President Biden announced the next phase of a war-time effort to vaccinate the U.S. population, with the goal of getting the nation closer to normal by July 4th, Independence Day.
 
“The President launched a new, comprehensive strategy to beat this pandemic on January 21, 2021.  In the subsequent 7 weeks, we’ve delivered over 81 million vaccinations to Americans — today, more people are once again able to visit their loved ones. There is more work to do and today, the President is outlining the next phase of his whole of government strategy to put the pandemic behind us,” the White House stated.

It is fitting to declare a war-time effort to combat COVID since in just one year, more Americans have died of COVID than in decades of fighting wars on foreign soil. “As of now, the total deaths in America: 527,726. That’s more deaths than in World War One, World War Two, the Vietnam War, and 9/11 combined,” as Biden noted in his address, pulling a paper with the running total count written on it. Biden has had to pick up slack after months and months of the prior administration dismissing, lying, even sabotaging efforts to contain the virus which has infected 30 million – far exceeding any other nation in the world as a percentage of population – holding massive rallies and discouraging mask-wearing, social distancing, and even pursuing legal action to prevent localities from using public health measures like lockdowns.

This is from the White House:

 The President announced that in the coming weeks, the Administration will:

Make every adult in the U.S. eligible for vaccination no later than May 1. Today, in the next phase of our vaccination effort, the President will announce that he will direct states, Tribes, and territories to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine no later than May 1st.  The White House COVID-19 Response Team has concluded that our accelerated vaccination efforts will enable prioritized vaccinations to be far enough along by end of April that all eligibility restrictions for vaccinations can be lifted by May 1st.

Once all Americans are eligible to be vaccinated, the Administration will ensure that every adult is actually able to get the vaccine by:

Increasing the number of places Americans can get vaccinated. With the resources available through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the Administration will ramp up efforts to create more places for people to get vaccinated, reaching the hardest-hit and hardest to reach populations.  

Community Health Centers: Today, the Administration announced that over the next six weeks the Administration will deliver vaccines directly to up to an additional 700 community health centers that reach underserved communities, increasing the total number of participating community health centers across the country to 950. These health centers serve low income and minority patients, provide services to rural communities and Tribal communities, and many will utilize mobile vans to deliver services.

Pharmacies: The Administration will double the number of pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy program, making the vaccine available at more than 20,000 pharmacies in locations convenient to all Americans.  The Administration is directing pharmacies to expand mobile operations into the hardest hit communities to reach more people.

Community Vaccination Centers:  The Administration will more than double the number of federally-run mass vaccination centers, run by FEMA, the U.S. military, and other federal agencies in partnership with states, to ensure that we reach the hardest-hit communities in this historic effort. Many of these sites will be the home base for mobile units that will travel into local communities to provide vaccines directly in underserved populations. With these mobile clinics, we’ll work with states to make up to one-third of each site’s daily vaccinations available directly in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the Administration will also increase support for state and local-run community vaccination centers. As a result of these added investments community vaccination centers will be capable of administering hundreds of thousands of shots a day, building on the nearly 600 centers across the country already operating with federal support.

Increasing the number of people providing and supporting vaccinations. Today, President Biden will announce the deployment of more than 4,000 active duty troops to support vaccination efforts, bringing the total to over 6,000 in all. Tomorrow, the Administration will expand the pool of qualified professionals able to administer shots to include:  Dentists, advanced and intermediate Emergency Medical Technicians, Midwives, Optometrists, Paramedics, Physician Assistants, Podiatrists, Respiratory Therapists, and Veterinarians, as well as medical students, nursing students, and other healthcare students in the previously listed professions under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will launch a new website to help individuals determine whether they are eligible to sign up to volunteer to administer shots.

Providing tools to make it easier for individuals to find a vaccine. The President will announce steps to make it easier for individuals to find a vaccine near them and address some of the barriers to getting vaccinated.

Find a Vaccination Website: By May 1st, as vaccines are available in more places, the Administration will launch a federally-supported website that will show the locations near them that have vaccines.

1-800 Number: To offer a tool for those who may lack Internet access, we will launch a call center by May 1st to provide guidance and assistance with finding a vaccine.

Technical Support to Improve Existing State Websites:  Since many Americans use their state websites to schedule appointments, the Administration will also deploy technology teams to states who need assistance to improve their websites.

Our COVID-19 efforts will always be guided by science and the step-by-step approaches to get Americans back to the important people and activities in their lives that they have been missing. Today, the President announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue to issue clear guidance for individuals on what they can do after being fully vaccinated.

Additional CDC Guidance on Activities for the Vaccinated:  As we approach July 4th, based on the best available science and the pace of vaccinations, the CDC will provide public health guidance for people as they travel, participate in small gatherings, and go to work and houses of worship.

Benefits of Vaccination:  CDC guidance and other CDC messaging will make the benefits of vaccination clear to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.  

Take New Steps to Reopen the Nation’s Schools. Reopening schools safely is critical to getting closer to normal. Tonight, President Biden laid out new steps in the school reopening effort. 

Ensure schools have the resources they need: Now that the American Rescue Plan has passed, the nearly $130 billion to safely reopen schools for in-person instruction will begin to be distributed this month by the Department of Education. These dollars will help schools pay for the critical supplies to implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended mitigation strategies, hire more staff – and avoid laying off current staff – to accommodate the need for smaller class sizes due to physical distancing, and support children’s academic, social and emotional needs after a challenging year. 

Expand screening testing in schools:  We will immediately take steps to help schools implement regular screening testing to assist them in safely reopening classrooms, including through tests and test supplies as well as implementation assistance to make it easier for schools to adopt a testing program.  This month, HHS will award $650 million in an initial investment in expanding K-8 school testing and testing in underserved congregate settings through new regional coordinating centers that will identify existing testing capacity, match it up to an area of need and support testing. This effort will begin to bring more testing to teachers, staff, and students and serve as a bridge to the comprehensive testing investment in the American Rescue Plan that is critical to get the pandemic under control.

Provide guidance and support:  The Department of Education (ED) will host a national Safe School Reopening Summit this month that will bring together students, teachers, families, community organizations, and state, local, or school leadership to provide assistance in implementing the CDC K-12 operational strategy for in-person instruction and supporting the academic, social, and emotional well-being of students.  ED also is launching the “Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse” called for in President Biden’s Executive Order.  The Clearinghouse will highlight lessons learned and best practices that can help schools and districts identify opportunities to best utilize American Rescue Plan funds to meet their individual needs. Next month, ED will release Volume 2 of its K-12 COVID-19 Handbook for districts, schools, and educators with strategies to address the impact of COVID-19 on students, educators, and staff, especially for historically underserved students and communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

Help educators get vaccinated:  Throughout March, the Administration will advance our efforts to support educators, school staff and childcare workers getting vaccinated.  Last week, the President announced that he is using the Administration’s authority to direct states to make Pre-K-12 school staff and child care workers eligible for vaccinations and that the Administration will prioritize educators in the federal pharmacy program.  The President challenged all 50 states to get Pre-K-12 school staff and child care workers their first shot by the end of this month. To help meet that goal, the Administration is working with education leaders, advocates, child care providers, community leaders, states and others to help reach educators and to disseminate toolkits and other resources to help amplify the importance of getting vaccinated.

Continue Effort to Combat Variants and Spread of COVID-19: As we work to get more people vaccinated, we will continue to take steps to combat the spread of variants including expanding testing and genomic sequencing.

Expand testing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.  While testing to date has been primarily focused on individuals with symptoms and potential exposures – and this testing remains critical – we will expand testing to ensure that we are identifying asymptomatic infection early to stop the spread.  With the nearly $50 billion in testing funding in the American Rescue Plan, the Administration will invest in screening testing to help schools reopen safely, expand testing in congregate settings like shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness, prisons, and other settings where individuals live in close quarters.  This funding also will help to close supply gaps and address critical raw material shortages that have plagued the testing supply chain.  And, with new investments in our manufacturing base, we will be able to increase easier to use and more affordable point-of-care and at-home testing.

Identify variants by expanding genomic sequencing.  Thanks to the American Rescue Plan’s $1.75 billion investment, we will dramatically expand our ability to sequence samples to identify, track, and mitigate emerging variants.  This will build on the nearly $200 million that the Administration announced last month to grow the number of samples sequenced from 7,000 to approximately 25,000.  Growing sample sizes will improve our ability to detect emerging variants and work to mitigate their spread.

Biden Administration Launches Whole-of-Government Effort to Get More People Vaccinated Against COVID

The Biden Administration’s Retail Pharmacy Program launched a few weeks ago and this week, will see an increase in allocation to neighborhood pharmacies to 2.1 million doses. The administration is well on its way to fulfilling the goal of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days.

The Biden-Harris Administration has launched a comprehensive, whole-of-government effort to get more people vaccinated—by increasing vaccine supply, increasing vaccinators, and increasing the number of places to get vaccinated. As part of this strategy, the Administration is supporting and launching federally-supported community vaccination centers nationwide in places people know and trust: community centers, schools, and stadiums. These community vaccination centers help achieve the President’s goal of administering 100 million shots in 100 days and getting vaccines to Americans more rapidly and more equitably.
On his first day in office, the President set a goal of launching or supporting 100 community vaccination centers in his first month. President Biden announced that since January 20, the federal government has provided critical support in the form of personnel, funding, and/or equipment to help establish or expand 441 community vaccination centers nationwide.

The government has reported that 50 million vaccinations have been administered in the first 38 days since Biden entered office, suggesting he will reach his goal of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days much earlier.

This includes:

60% of people over 75 received at least one shot

50% over 65 have received one shot

75% of people in long term care facilities received at least one shot.

Meanwhile, a third vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, is about to be authorized for use. This is a one-shot dose that does not need special handling, and will supplement the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

On February 24, Jeff Zients, COVID-19 Response Coordinator, announced the fifth consecutive week of supply increases to states, tribes, and territories, from 8.6 million doses when Biden took office to 14.5 million doses this week.  That’s an increase in vaccine allocations to states of nearly 70 percent during the Biden-Harris administration.
 
The Retail Pharmacy Program launched a few weeks ago and this week, will see an increase in allocation to pharmacies to 2.1 million doses. 
 
So, with 14.5 million doses allocated to states, tribes, and territories and 2.1 million through the federal Retail Pharmacy Program, the weekly supply of doses has been nearly doubled in just five weeks.
 
Second, the Biden Administration is mobilizing teams to get shots in arms, deploying over 800 federal personnel as vaccinators, funding 1,200 National Guard members to serve as vaccinators, and deploying 1,000 federal personnel to support community vaccination sites in operational and support roles.
 
Third, the Biden Administration continues to create more places where Americans can get vaccinated, expanding financial support to bolster community vaccination centers nationwide, with over $3.6 billion in FEMA funding to 44 states, tribes, and territories for vaccination efforts. “We’re bringing vaccinations to places communities know and trust: community centers, high school gyms, churches, and stadiums nationwide.”
 
The administration continues to work with states to set up innovative, high-volume, federally run sites that can each give over 30,000 shots a week.  These sites are up and running in California and are ramping up in Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
 
Federal programs have been launched to get vaccines to pharmacies and local community health centers. 

“As we’ve always said, we’re committed to providing clarity on our progress, and that includes when we hit bumps in the road. Last week, we got hit with the very severe weather, which impacted the vaccination supply chain — from manufacturing, to shipping, to the ability to get shots in arms.  The manufacturers, the shipping firms, the states, the tribes, the territories, and pharmacies worked to overcome these challenges.
 
“And despite all the temporary weather-related delays, our seven-day average daily doses administered is at 1.4 million.  And we’ve already caught up on the weather-related shipping backlog.
 
Teams worked throughout last weekend to pack and ship doses.  On Monday, yesterday, 7 million doses — two days ago — 7 million doses were delivered.  That, coupled with the 14.5 million doses allocated this week, results in record supply going to the states.  We’ve encouraged states to get needles into arms by extending vaccine clinic hours, offering services 24 hours a day where possible, adding weekend appointments, and having more staff on hand.
 
“On this point, I want to stress that if states do not have the staff to work around the clock and on the weekends, the federal government stands ready to help.”
 
As soon as an Emergency Use Authorization is issued for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Zients said the government anticipates allocating 3 to 4 million doses next week.  Johnson & Johnson has announced it aims to deliver a total of 20 million doses by the end of March.  “We’re working with the company to accelerate the pace and timeframe by which they deliver the full 100 million doses, which is required by contract by the end of June….We will waste no time getting this lifesaving vaccine into the arms of Americans.”

FACT SHEET:
441 Federally-Supported Community Vaccination Centers in First Month of Biden-Harris Administration

Since January 20, the Biden-Harris Administration has supported the establishment or expansion of 441 community vaccination centers across 37 states, territories, and the District of Columbia.
 

As of this week:

  • 171 sites are being supported by federal personnel: The Biden-Harris Administration has deployed 2,225 personnel nationwide to support vaccination operations, including expert logisticians, vaccinators and non-medical operational staff serving as greeters, clerks and other critical support roles. Personnel are assigned from agencies across the federal government, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); U.S. Department of the Interior (DoI); U.S. Department of Defense (DoD); U.S. Coast Guard (USCG); U.S. Forest Service (USFS); Veterans Affairs (VA); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
  • 312 sites are being supported by federally-funded National Guard members under Title 32 orders: This means more people to deliver vaccinations, handle logistics, and coordinate the pandemic response. In total, the Administration is supporting 1,200 National Guard vaccinators across 43 states and territories.
  • 177 sites have received federal funding: At the President’s direction, FEMA is reimbursing 100% of costs for vaccination operations. This funding covers critical supplies, staffing, training, and transportation needs that support increased vaccination distribution and administration. The funding flows to states, localities, Tribes, territories, and eligible non-profits.  
  • 62 sites have received federal equipment: From folding chairs to sharps containers to dry ice, the federal government has provided a range of equipment to meet state, local, Tribal, and territorial needs and help establish or expand sites.

Federal Pilot Community Vaccination Centers
Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration has announced 18 federally-established community vaccination centers, with the ability to administer a total of 61,000 shots per day at full capacity. For these sites, the federal government is directly working with state and local partners from start to finish, to help select the location for, staff, and operate these sites.

The Biden-Harris Administration is placing equity at the core of the federal government’s strategy to defeat the pandemic. FEMA has partnered with CDC and state and local partners to locate vaccination centers in places that aim to reach hard-hit, high-risk communities, deploying CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index and similar state and local measures. Ensuring access is a priority in the design of the Federal Pilot community vaccination centers, with some featuring weekend and extended daytime hours, reserved slots for registration through faith-based and community-based organizations, and deployment alongside mobile vaccination units to help vaccinate surrounding communities.
Two sites opened in California on February 16, administering over 90,000 shots since opening, with additional vaccinations from the four mobile clinics based out of these locations and bringing vaccines directly to surrounding communities. Five other Federal Pilot sites opened this week, with three in Texas and two in New York. Additional sites announced in Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and North Carolina are launching in the coming weeks, with more to be announced.

Launched Federal Pilot Community Vaccination Centers:

  • Oakland Coliseum – Oakland, CA: FEMA partnered with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) to open the site on February 16, with the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 individuals a day. At the time of launch, 231 federal personnel were deployed to support site vaccinations and operations, including 125 from FEMA, 85 from USFS, and 21 from NDMS. The Coliseum is adjacent to the communities of Eastmont and Elmhurst, which have some of the lowest health scores in the state. The site operates 7 days a week with drive-through and pedestrian options. Appointments were reserved for faith and community-based organizations to register their communities.
  • California State University, Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA: FEMA partnered with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) to open the site on February 16, with the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 individuals a day. At the time of launch, 256 personnel were deployed to support site vaccinations and operations, including 222 from DoD, 30 from FEMA, and four from USFS. The institution is one of the most diverse public universities in the country, serving a large Latinx community. The site operates 7 days a week with drive-through and pedestrian options. Appointments were reserved for faith and community-based organizations to register their communities.
  • NRG Stadium – Houston, TX: FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management opened this site on February 24, with the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 individuals a day. The 11-lane drive-through site operates 7 days a week, and the state is conducting targeted outreach to provide registration support. Harris County is highly diverse, home to the nation’s second-largest Hispanic and Latinx population of any U.S. county.
  • Fair Park – Dallas, TX: FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management opened the site on February 24, with the capacity to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day. The 12-lane drive-through site operates 7 days a week, and the state is conducting targeted outreach to provide registration support. Dallas County is highly diverse, with nearly two-thirds of its population Hispanic and/or Black.
  • Globe Life Field – Arlington, TX: FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management will open the site on February 26, with the capacity to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day. The site operates 7 days a week with drive-through and pedestrian options, and the state is conducting targeted outreach to provide registration support.
  • Medgar Evers College – Brooklyn, NY: FEMA and New York State opened the site on February 24, with the capacity to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day. The site is located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. For the first week of scheduling, appointments were reserved specifically for eligible residents living in areas with low vaccination rates, before opening to all eligible borough residents. The state is additionally partnering with faith leaders to encourage sign-up, and the MTA is launching a pilot program to enhance bus service to connect New Yorkers to the vaccination site.
  • York College – Queens, NY: New York State and FEMA opened the site on February 23, with the capacity to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day. The site is located in Jamaica, Queens. For the first week of scheduling, appointments were initially reserved for eligible residents living in areas with low vaccination rates, before opening to all eligible borough residents. The state is additionally partnering with faith leaders to encourage sign-up, and the MTA is launching a pilot program to enhance bus service to connect New Yorkers to the vaccination site.

Announced Federal Pilot Community Vaccination Centers, opening soon:

  • Miami-Dade Community College (North Campus) – Miami, FL: With state partners, FEMA will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day.
  • Tampa Greyhound Track – Tampa, FL: With state partners, FEMA will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day.
  • Valencia College West Campus – Orlando, FL: With state partners, FEMA will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day.
  • Gateway Mall – Jacksonville, FL: With state partners, FEMA will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day.
  • New York National Guard Armory – Yonkers, NY: FEMA and the State of New York will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 1,000 individuals a day and will operate with extended hours to better reach local residents.
  • Former Kodak Hawkeye Lot – Rochester, NY: FEMA and the State of New York will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 1,000 individuals a day and will operate with extended hours to better reach local residents.
  • Delavan Grider Community Center – Buffalo, NY: FEMA and the State of New York will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 1,000 individuals a day and will operate with extended hours to better reach local residents.
  • Washington Avenue Armory – Albany, NY: FEMA and the State of New York will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 1,000 individuals a day and will operate with extended hours to better reach local residents.
  • Pennsylvania Convention Center – Philadelphia, PA: With state partners, FEMA will open this site as early as March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 6,000 individuals a day.
  • United Center – Chicago, IL: With state partners, FEMA will open this site on March 10. The site is expected to vaccinated 6,000 individuals a day.
  • Four Seasons Center – Greensboro, NC: With state partners, FEMA will open this site on March 10. The site is expected to vaccinated 3,000 individuals a day.

Experts Predict Most Significant Wellness Trends for 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Hollywood and the Entertainment Industries Jump into Wellness

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

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

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

A New Wellness TV

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

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

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

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

Wellness Music Exploding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll see more experimentation with:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Just Breathe! 

By Sandra Ballentine, Editor at Large, W Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Cecelia Girr & Skyler Hubler of Backslash, TBWA Worldwide

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Adding Color to Wellness

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

By Tonia Callender, Research Fellow, Global Wellness Institute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Cecelia Girr & Skyler Hubler of Backslash, TBWA Worldwide

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. 2021: The Year of the Travel Reset

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

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

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

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

Some ways travel will be reset in 2021:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

2021 State of the State Book Available Here

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

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

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

2021 REIMAGINE | REBUILD | RENEW HIGHLIGHTS 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REOPENING SAFELY AND SMARTLY FOLLOWING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GROWING THE GREEN ENERGY ECONOMY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUILDING AND STRENGTHENING NEW YORK’S INFRASTRUCTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Modernizing New York Airports:

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

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

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

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

Improving Mass Transit for Millions of New Yorkers:

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

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

Updates to Highways, Roads and Bridges:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chain Pharmacies

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

Network Administrators

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

Biden 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.

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

President-Elect Biden Names his Health Care, COVID-19 Team, Outlines First 100-Days Strategy: Masking, Vaccinations, Schools

President-Elect Joe Biden introduced the individuals he will nominate to key health and COVID positions in remarks in Wilmington, DE, and declared three key actions he would take in the first 100 days of his administration to turn around the skyrocketing rates of coronavirus sickness, hospitalizations and deaths: promote masking, facilitate vaccinations, and opening schools. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President-Elect Joe Biden introduced the individuals he will nominate to key health and COVID positions in remarks in Wilmington, DE, and declared three key actions he would take in the first 100 days of his administration to turn around the skyrocketing rates of coronavirus sickness, hospitalizations and deaths: promote masking, facilitate vaccinations, and opening schools.

The key health and COVID members – widely hailed for their expertise and accomplishments – include:

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Xavier Becerra

Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response Team: Jeff Zients

Surgeon General of the United States: Dr. Vivek Murthy

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dr. Rochelle Walensky

COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair: Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith

Head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor on COVID-19: Dr. Anthony Fauci

Here are remarks, as prepared for delivery, highlighted:

President-Elect Joe Biden lays out his 100-days strategy to get control of COVID-19 that is devastating lives and livelihoods: masking, vaccinations, schools (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-feetures.com

President-Elect Joe Biden

Today, I am announcing our health care and COVID team at a critical time, as we near the end of one of the toughest years we’ve faced as a nation. 
 
More than 285,000 Americans are dead because of COVID-19 — and counting. 

Last week, COVID-19 was the number one cause of death in America.

For Black, Latino, and Native Americans — who are nearly three times as likely to die from it — COVID-19 is a mass casualty event.

For families and friends left behind, it’s a gaping hole in your heart that will never fully heal. 

And as a country, we’ve been living with this pandemic for so long that we’re at risk of becoming numb to its toll on us. 
 
We’re resigned to feel there is nothing we can do. That we can’t trust one another. That we must accept the death, the pain, and the sorrow.

We are in the midst of this deadly pandemic that has infected almost 15 million Americans — one out of every 22 of our people — often with devastating consequences to their health. 

And at this very moment, what is the outgoing Administration asking the Supreme Court of the United States to do? 
To repeal in its entirety the Affordable Care Act.!

A law that’s on the frontlines against the pandemic.

That protects more than 100 million Americans who live with pre-existing conditions — which now includes lung scarring and heart damage from COVID-19. 

That provides coverage to more than 20 million Americans who get the care they need if they’re showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The law that fulfills our moral obligation that, here in America, health care is a right for all, not a privilege for the few.

But I know that out of our collective pain, we will find our collective purpose — to control the pandemic, to save lives, and to heal as a nation.
 
Today, I am pleased to announce the team that will do just that.
 
It’s a team of world-class experts at the top of their fields. Crisis-tested. Defined by a deep sense of duty, honor, and patriotism.
 
They are ready on Day One to spare no effort and get the pandemic under control, so we can get back to work, back to our lives, and back to our loved ones. 
 
They will lead the COVID-19 response across our government to accelerate testing, fix our supply chain, and distribute the vaccine.
 
They will work with my economic team — because controlling the pandemic, delivering better health care, and reviving the economy go hand in hand.
 
They will work with my foreign policy and national security team — because we can only beat this virus if we beat it everywhere.
 
And today I am announcing that — in consultation with Dr. Tony Fauci — we’ve developed the first three objectives and new initiatives that I am asking this team to complete during my first 100 days in office.  
 
My first 100 days won’t end COVID-19. I cannot promise that. We did not get into this mess quickly, and it’s going to take time to fix.  
 
But I am convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better.
 
First, my 100 day masking plan. 
 
It starts with my signing an order on Day One to require masks where I can — like federal buildings and interstate travel on planes, trains, and buses. 
 
I’ll be working with governors and mayors to do the same in states and cities.  
 
We are going to require masks wherever possible, but this goes beyond government action.  
 
And so, as a new President, I’m going to speak directly to the American people.  
 
We need your help. Wear a mask for 100 days. 
 
It’s the easiest thing you can do to reduce COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.  
 
Help yourself, your family, your community. Whatever your politics or point of view — mask up for 100 days.  
 
100 days to make a difference.  
 
It’s not a political statement — it’s a patriotic act.
 
It won’t be the end of our efforts. But it’s a necessary and easy start.
 
Second, this team will help get at least 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into the arms of Americans in 100 days.
 
We will follow the guidance of scientists and get vaccines to those most at-risk.
 
That includes health care personnel and people in long-term care; and, as soon as possible, that will include educators.
 
This will be the most efficient mass vaccination plan in U.S. history. I credit everyone who has gotten us to this point, but developing the vaccine is one herculean task.
 
Distributing it is another.
 
And vaccines in a vial only work if they are injected into the arms of people, especially those most at risk.
 
This will be one of the hardest and most costly operational challenges in our history. 
 
We’re going to need Congress to fully fund vaccine distribution to all corners of our country. 
 
I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in Congress around a $900 billion economic relief package, which I’ve said is critical now, but this package is only a start for more action early next year.
 
We must also focus significant resources on the direct public health response to COVID-19. 
 
Our preliminary review of the Trump Administration’s vaccine distribution plan confirms media reports.
 
Without urgent action this month by Congress to put sufficient resources into vaccine distribution and manufacturing — which the bipartisan group is working on — there is a real chance that, after an early round of vaccinations, the effort will slow and stall.
 
Let me repeat: We need Congress to finish the bipartisan work underway now or
millions of Americans may wait months longer — months longer — than they otherwise would have to to get their vaccinations. 
 
And then we will need additional action next year to fund the rest of our distribution efforts. 
 
We also need the Trump Administration to act now to purchase the doses it has negotiated with Pfizer and Moderna and to work swiftly to scale manufacturing for the U.S. population and the world.
 
This can be fixed. 
 
If it does, my team will be able to get at least 100 million vaccinations done in my first 100 days.

Third, it should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school. 

If Congress provides the funding we need to protect students, educators, and staff, and if states and cities put strong public health measures in place that we all follow, then my team will work to see that the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days.

That’s right, we will look to have most of the schools open in 100 days if Congress provides the funding we need.

Masking. Vaccinations. Opening schools.
 
These are three key goals for my first 100 days.
 
But we will still have much to do in the year ahead. And sadly, much difficulty, too. We will be far, far from done.
 
Yet, it is possible that after 100 days, we will be much further along in the fight against the pandemic.
 
And I’m grateful for the members of my core COVID team, that I will now introduce, to lead the way.

For Secretary of Health and Human Services, I nominate Xavier Becerra.

He’s currently Attorney General of California, leading the second largest Justice Department in America — only behind the United States Department of Justice.

For nearly 25 years before that, he was a Congressman representing Los Angeles, one of America’s largest and most diverse cities.

Xavier spent his career fighting to expand access to health care, reduce racial health disparities, protect the Affordable Care Act, and take on powerful special interests who prey on and profit off people’s health — from opioid manufacturers to Big Tobacco.

During the pandemic, he’s protected the safety of frontline healthcare workers, rooted out fraud from bad actors taking advantage of people, and stood up for homeowners trying to pay their mortgage during the devastating economic crisis.

And as HHS Secretary, he will skillfully oversee the CDC and FDA, Medicare and Medicaid.

No matter what happens in the Supreme Court, he will lead our efforts to build on the Affordable Care Act. 
 
He’ll work to dramatically expand coverage and take bold steps to lower health care and prescription drug costs.

Xavier is the key leader who will lead the key agency charged with protecting the health and wellness of the American people. 

He will also be the first Latino leading HHS, a son from a working-class immigrant family that came from Mexico. 

A true public servant who has dedicated his career in service to the people, and in service to this country that we all love.

To serve as the Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response Team, I’m turning to a world-class manager and leader, Jeff Zients.

I’ve known Jeff for a long time — from the first and last days of the Obama-Biden White House, and throughout the campaign, and now the transition.

There’s no one else you want to help manage some of the most consequential and complex priorities of a country.

Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama.

Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

He was there during the Great Recession, as we went from crisis to recovery to resurgence over eight years.

He was there to lead the team and help implement the Affordable Care Act — to get HealthCare.gov up and working at a critical moment. That was a monumental feat that required vision, patience, and fortitude and expertise.

Well-respected across the aisle, and around the country from business and labor leaders to entrepreneurs and educators.

Chairman of the Board of Children’s National Medical Center, one of the world’s top children’s hospitals.

Jeff knows how to build and lead a team. How to identify and solve problems.

And how to fully mobilize the federal government on behalf of the health, safety, and prosperity of the American people.

For Surgeon General of the United States, I nominate Dr. Vivek Murthy.

A renowned physician and research scientist. A trusted national leader on health care, and for me, a trusted advisor during this campaign and transition.

This will be his second time serving as America’s Doctor, having served in this role under President Obama.

During his tenure, he took on some of the most pressing public health issues we face — from the opioid crisis to threats to America’s mental health.

I’ve asked Dr. Murthy to serve again as Surgeon General — but with expanded responsibilities. 

He will be a key public voice on our COVID response, to restore public trust and faith in science and medicine.

But he will also be a key advisor to me and help lead an all-government approach to broader public health issues — mental health, addiction and substance use disorders, social and environmental determinants of health, and so much more.

Above all, he will help restore faith in this country as a place of possibilities.

A son of Indian immigrants, who raised their children to always believe in the promise of America.

Dr. Murthy will be one of my most trusted public health and medical advisors — and I’m grateful for his continued public service.

For Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I appoint Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

She is the Chief of Infectious Diseases at one of the country’s preeminent hospitals, Massachusetts General in Boston.  

A distinguished professor at Harvard Medical School. A world-class physician.

One of the nation’s foremost experts on the testing, treatment, and eradication of viruses.

She has served on the front lines of the COVID crisis. She has conducted groundbreaking research on vaccine delivery, including how to reach underserved communities that are too often hit first and the hardest.

Dr. Walensky’s work was instrumental in helping the world mitigate one public health crisis — HIV/AIDS. 

It inspired her as a young doctor to pursue her pioneering research in virus containment.

Now, she will bring her experience to bear against COVID-19.

She is uniquely qualified to restore morale and public trust. 

She will marshal our finest scientists and public health experts at the CDC to turn the tide on the urgent crisis facing us today.

Because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, I concluded we need a COVID-19 Equity Task Force.

To chair it, I appoint Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. One of the country’s foremost experts on health care disparities.

Associate Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Management at the Yale School of Medicine.

Founding director of Yale’s Equity Research and Innovation Center.

And co-chair of my COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board.

Dr. Nunez-Smith will lead our efforts to provide care to the communities most in need and most affected by the pandemic and most often overlooked.

She will ensure that fairness and equity are at the center of every part of our response.

This is a central front in our fight against the pandemic, and I am grateful Dr. Nunez-Smith will lead this charge.

And finally, as both head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and my chief medical advisor on COVID-19 — I am pleased that Dr. Tony Fauci will be a member of my core COVID team.

By now, he needs no introduction.

But he will have my gratitude when I’m president, the seventh president he will have served.

We’ve known each other a long time.

I’ve seen him take on HIV/AIDS, H1N1, Ebola, Zika, COVID-19, and every infectious disease in between, over his nearly forty years of service to our country.

Trusted. A truth teller. A patriot.

Like every good doctor, he will tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know.

This is my core COVID and health care team.

Before January 20, we will be adding more leaders to oversee vaccine distribution, supply chain, testing, and other key functions.

To each of you on this team, you have my gratitude for answering the call to serve. And to your families, thank you. We could not do this without them, or without you.

And to the American people, I know we’ve all had a lot of sleepless nights this year. 

So many of you staring at the ceiling late at night, worrying if you’re going to be okay. 

All I can tell you is the truth.

We’re in a dark winter. Things may well get worse before they get better. A vaccine may soon be available. But we need to level with each other.

It will take longer than we would like to distribute it to all corners of our country. 

We will need to persuade enough Americans to take it. 

It’s daunting, but I promise you that we will make progress starting on Day One. 
 
But we didn’t get into this mess quickly, and it’ll take time to fix. 
 
That’s the truth, and telling you the truth is what this team, Vice President-elect Harris, and I will always do.

This is one of the toughest challenges America has ever faced.

But I know that we will overcome — and heal — together as one nation.

To all of the front-line health professionals and first responders, the grocery store workers and delivery truck drivers, the educators, parents, and our children. 

Thank you. 

Thank you for everything you have done to get us through this crisis thus far.

We will never give up on you.

And we will never give up on our country.

We can do this, together.

To all those we have lost in this pandemic, and all those sick and suffering, our hearts go out to you. 

May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops.

Remarks by Attorney General Xavier Becerra

Along with Carolina, my wife, and Natalia, Olivia, Clarisa, and Yvonne: greetings from California.

Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect, I am honored and excited to join your team. 

The mission of the Department of Health and Human Services has never been as vital or as urgent as it is today.

The COVID pandemic and its economic fallout have thrust families into crisis. 

Too many Americans are sick or have lost loved ones.

Too many have lost their jobs, and with that, their healthcare and hope.

You have made it clear, Mr. President-elect, that to build back a prosperous America we need a healthy America. That, then, will be Job One for your team at HHS.

Fifty-five years ago, during another time of hardship, former Health Secretary — and fellow Californian — John Gardner said:

“What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.”

Gardner went on to help President Lyndon Johnson build the Great Society — ushering in Medicare, Medicaid, and Civil Rights that brought greater equity, greater opportunity, and greater hope to all Americans.

Now it is our turn to discover the breathtaking opportunities before us in the midst of hardship and pain.

It is our turn to build up and to back up our doctors and medical professionals, our hospitals and clinics, battling the coronavirus; our turn to restore faith and confidence in our leaders to deliver solutions that unite and heal us and inoculate us from fear; our turn to spur our brightest minds to launch the next generation of innovative medicines and cures. 

And, it is our turn to build a nation where, as the President-elect so often says, health care is a right — not a privilege.

At HHS, tackling pandemics, saving lives, and keeping us healthy should be our calling card. 

And we won’t forget that there is a second “H” in HHS…The “human” services — the work we do for our children, seniors, and disabled — they will stand tall in a Biden-Harris HHS. 

Almost a year ago, on New Year’s Day, my father Manuel passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family. We got to celebrate Christmas together. And, when the end came, my dad knew we were there with him. 

No one should ever have to die alone in a hospital bed, loved ones forced to stay away. That seems so contrary to the values of a great nation — the values that drew my parents, like generations before and after them, to come to America. 

Manuel and Maria Teresa had only their health and hope when they arrived in California. A road construction worker with a sixth grade education and a clerical worker who arrived in her teens from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. 

They built a pretty good partnership that lasted 67 years. Along the way they sent four kids to college and the military.

They opened the door for me. I am enormously grateful to them.

Now, President-elect Biden has offered me a breathtaking opportunity to work with his team to shape our healthcare future.

I share the president-elect and vice-president-elect’s determination to rebuild unity and civility in America. We know it takes hard work. We know we must do it together. We know it will be key to building critical momentum and support for the prevention and treatment of the coronavirus.

Those values and priorities will help us emerge from this pandemic a stronger, more just, and more equitable nation. Literally, there are millions of small business owners and tens of millions of workers who are counting on us. 

I am proud to have this chance to implement the president-elect’s vision for a better America through the challenging assignments that are in store for the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Mr. President-elect and Madam Vice President-elect, thank you for this opportunity to serve.

Dr. Vivek Murthy will reprise his role as Surgeon General of the United States © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by Dr. Vivek Murthy

Mr. President-elect and Madam Vice President-elect, thank you for your trust and confidence.

When I left my role as Surgeon General, I never dreamed I would have an opportunity to serve again. 

And in this moment of crisis, when so many Americans have fallen sick and lost loved ones, when people are losing jobs and struggling with childcare, I feel grateful to be able to do everything I can to end this pandemic. 

While this is a daunting task, we absolutely have what it takes to get the job done. 

We have world class scientists. 

We have courageous medical professionals who are risking their lives to care for the ill. 

We have companies on the cusp of delivering vaccines, and we are blessed with generous, compassionate people all across America who are stepping up to help those who are struggling.

If we all work together, we will overcome this pandemic and return to our lives. 

But COVID 19 is not the only health crisis we face — if anything, it has underscored a host of other epidemics that are devastating families and shortening lifespans: addiction, the opioid crisis, and spiraling mental health concerns; glaring racial disparities and high rates of diabetes and heart disease. 

These challenges are both caused and exacerbated by broader societal issues — from the economic strains families face to the disconnection and loneliness many of us feel.

In my new, expanded role, I will work to bring a health perspective to our policies across government so that  our schools, workplaces, and communities can be forces for strengthening our health and well being.

But the truth is that the best policies — and the best vaccines and treatments — will not heal our nation unless we overcome the fear, anxiety, anger, and distrust so many Americans are feeling right now. 

So more than anything, I will come to this role as a doctor — one who learned the most important lessons about medicine not in medical school, but in the clinic my parents opened when they first came to America as immigrants decades ago. 

As a child, I saw how they took the time not just to diagnose illnesses, but to ask about their patients’ families and lives, happily poring over photos of children and grandchildren taken from wallets, listening deeply to people’s stories and struggles, often running well over the appointment time. 

They taught me that the best doctor is not an authority figure who writes prescriptions, but rather a partner in healing — someone who sees patients in their fullest humanity and empowers them to take control of their health.

That is the kind of doctor I have always tried to be. 

And if confirmed, that is the approach I will take as I serve as America’s doctor. 

I will dedicate myself to caring for every American, driven always by science and facts, by head and heart — and endlessly grateful to serve one of the few countries in the world where the grandson of a poor farmer in India can be asked by the president-elect to look out for the health of the entire nation. 

That is a testament to the promise of America — one that I will work to fulfill every day as Surgeon General.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky is being hailed as Biden’s pick asDirector of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by Dr. Rochelle Walensky

 Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect, I’m honored by the trust you’ve placed in me to serve the American people at this critical moment.

I want to thank my amazing husband and our three wonderful sons for answering this call along with me. 

As all doctors and public servants know, these jobs ask a great deal not only of us, but of our families.

The pandemic that brought me here today is actually one that struck America and the world more than thirty years ago.

Because my medical training happened to coincide with some of the most harrowing years of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

As a medical student, I saw firsthand how the virus ravaged bodies and communities.

Inside the hospital, I witnessed many people lose strength and hope.
While outside the hospital, I witnessed those same patients — mostly gay men and members of vulnerable communities — be stigmatized and marginalized, by their nation and many of its leaders.

A scientific breakthrough came in 1995, when the FDA approved the first AIDS cocktail, and we saw the first glimmers of hope.

I’ve dedicated my career ever since to researching and treating infectious disease and to ending the HIV/AIDS crisis for good.

Now, a new virus is ravaging us.

It is striking hardest, once again, at the most vulnerable — the marginalized; the under-served.

Nearly 15 million Americans have been infected.

Nearly 285,000 of our loved ones are gone.

The pain is accelerating, our defenses have worn down.

We are losing life, and hope, at an alarming rate.

I never anticipated that I would take on a role helping lead our national response.

Government service was never part of my plans.

But every doctor knows that when a patient is coding, your plans don’t matter.

You run to the code.

And when a nation is coding, if you are called to serve, you serve.

You run to take care of people; to stop the bleeding, to stabilize, to give them hope and a fighting chance to come back stronger.


That’s what doctors do.

And I’m honored to get to work with an administration that understands that leading with science is the only way to deliver breakthroughs, to deliver hope, and to bring our nation back to its full strength.

To the American people, and to each and every person at the CDC, I promise to work with you to harness the power of American science — to fight this virus and prevent unnecessary illness and deaths — so that we can all get back to our lives.

Thank you for this opportunity.

Remarks by Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith

 Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect, thank you for the opportunity to serve the American people.

I’m proud to go to work with leaders who are deeply committed to science and to centering equity in our response to the pandemic.

Not as a secondary concern, or as a box to check — but as a shared value, woven into all of the work we do and prioritized by every member of the Biden-Harris team.

I’m enormously thankful to my research team, my colleagues, to President Salovey and the leadership at Yale for supporting me in this work.

And I’m grateful to all of the researchers and advocates who’ve blazed the trail, whose work on health equity and racial justice too often went unbelieved or overlooked across the generations.

Most of all, I’m thankful to my family, to Jessie and our three children, for their unwavering support and humor.

And to my mother, and her mother, for modeling kindness, generosity, and courageous leadership through service.

I have wanted to be a doctor since I was six years old, and I am a proud general internal medicine physician today.

But as I grew up, I came to understand that there were deeper dimensions to health, beyond what I saw in the human biology textbooks I borrowed from my mother’s bookshelf.

I grew up on St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A place where people too often died too young — from preventable conditions.

My own father had his first stroke in his forties and was left paralyzed.

I learned there was a term for what we were: an “underserved community” — marginalized by place and by race.

In my medical training, I saw countless patients whose conditions were shaped by factors having nothing to do with science — and everything to do with broader social inequities.

Now, the COVID-19 crisis has laid those inequities bare.

It is not a coincidence, or a matter of genetics, that more than 70 percent of African Americans, and more than 60 percent of Latinx Americans, personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died from COVID-19.

The same disparities ingrained in our economy, our housing system, our food system, our justice system, and so many other areas of our society have conspired, in this moment, to create a ‘grief gap’ that we cannot ignore.

It is our societal obligation to ensure equitable access to testing, treatments, and vaccines.

Equitable support for those who are hurting.

And equitable pathways to opportunity as we emerge from this crisis and rebuild — including for the most marginalized communities: the undocumented, the incarcerated, and the homeless.

I’m grateful for the chance to continue this work, to earn trust and find success through genuine partnerships with the people and communities who’ve been hit the hardest during — and before — this crisis.

On this team, you will be heard, you will be counted, and you will be valued.

Remarks by Dr. Anthony Fauci in a Pre-recorded Message

President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris, thank you so much for asking me to be part of this COVID response team.

I hope that you don’t mind that the reason that I am sending this video is because a close friend and colleague at the NIH, Dr. Harvey Alter, is receiving the Nobel Prize in Medicine at the same time, and we wanted to attend the ceremony at the NIH to show our support.

Such an achievement is a reminder of the incredible public servants we have at the NIH and of America’s place as a pioneer in science and medicine.

I believe — as you do — that in the fight against this pandemic, we must lead with science. And that a key piece of our ongoing work is communicating consistently with the American people.

Whether it’s maintaining social distancing and not congregating indoors; or the 100 day challenge you described on masking; or to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

These actions are bold, but they are doable and essential to help the public avoid unnecessary risks, to help us save lives, reopen schools and business, and to eventually beat the pandemic. 

I look forward to advising you on these most urgent priorities and to working with this team of world-class experts whom I have known for many years and deeply respect.

I have been through many public health crises before, but this is the toughest one we have ever faced as a nation.

The road ahead will not be easy. We have got a lot of hard and demanding work to do in the next year.

But, as we have done during previous crises, I also know we can get through this pandemic together, as a nation.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this effort. 

Jeff Zients, selected to be the Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response Team. “There’s no one else you want to help manage some of the most consequential and complex priorities of a country,” Biden said. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Remarks by Jeff Zients

President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris — I am honored by your trust in me and humbled by the task at hand. And I am hopeful because of your leadership. 

As it is for both of you, everything starts with family for me. And I am forever grateful for the love and support of my wife, our children, and our parents. 

Mr. President-elect, we’ve known each other for a long time, and our relationship has been forged under immense pressure: the severity of the Great Recession; the challenge of implementing the Affordable Care Act; and the daily decisions a White House makes that affect the lives of millions of Americans. 

You and President Obama knew how to build a team with the right diversity of backgrounds and views. A team to make progress on difficult situations and capture enormous opportunities. 

That’s what I’ve tried to do throughout my career. 

I am not a doctor or public health expert. In fact, we’ve got the best ones in the world on this team. 

But I know management and execution. And the key part of the role you’ve asked me to take on is the last part, “Coordinator.” 

It’s about empowering experts, developing a culture of teamwork, and maintaining a focus on strategy and execution. 

It’s knowing that leadership requires expertise, transparency, and prioritization. It also requires trust, truth, and integrity. 

To the American people, that’s what this team will provide. 

We will utilize the full capacity of the federal government to get this pandemic under control. 

To harness and examine the data to expand testing. To deliver equipment and PPE to those on the frontlines. To provide resources for schools and businesses to operate safely. To address the racial disparities and inequities of this pandemic. To rejoin the global fight against COVID-19 — because no one is safe until everyone is safe. 

And with our collective expertise, we will oversee the rollout of the vaccine which, as the president-elect said, will be one of the greatest operational challenges our country has ever faced. 

And we will also pull the country together — across governments at the federal, state, and local levels, and across the private sector. 

And as we begin this vital work, Mr. President-elect, I remember what you told me when we were implementing the Affordable Care Act. 

Your message was: I know this is no small task; I know you and the team are feeling tremendous pressure to succeed; and we want and need the team to pull this off. 

You then said, “I know you and the team can do this, but I need you to promise me one thing: That you will always, always, give it to us straight because we have to understand the challenge we’re facing. Because most of all, we are in this together. And together we can do this.”

President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and the American people, this team will always tell it to you straight. 

The work ahead will not be easy. But we know what needs to be done. And we will get it done, together. 

Remarks by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

Congratulations Mr. President-elect on nominating and appointing this outstanding team to get this pandemic under control.

And thank you to these accomplished physicians, experts, and public servants for answering the call to serve the American people in this hour of need.

Over Thanksgiving, the president-elect and I called health care workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Just to thank them.

We wanted to express our gratitude — and our nation’s gratitude — for everything they have been doing. For every sacrifice they have made.

That day, I spoke with a registered nurse named Maureen in Pennsylvania and Talisa in Illinois. 

They shared stories we’ve all heard. 

We’ve all heard the stories about grandmothers and grandfathers, loved ones and friends spending their last moments alone. 

We’ve all heard about nurses and physicians who are physically and mentally exhausted trying to keep up with ever-increasing caseloads. Those on the frontline who say to each other, it’s a matter of when, not if, they get the virus. 

We’ve all heard about health care workers without the supplies and equipment they need to care for patients and save lives. 

So, today, we have a message for Talisa, Maureen, and all Americans: help is on the way.  

And it’s long overdue.

The scale of this pandemic is heartbreaking.

Almost 15 million cases. More than 2,800 deaths. In a single day.

And then, there’s the economic devastation.  The lost jobs. The small businesses shuttered. 

Not to mention what’s happening to our schools. The parents and teachers who are being stretched to their limits. And the toll it’s all taking on the mental health and well-being of our children who risk falling behind.

Opening our schools and economy safely and responsibly, getting this virus under control — all of it starts with listening to experts and leaders like these; Americans who reflect the very best of our nation. 

They are top physicians, public health experts, and public servants. 

And they are the team the American people need and deserve. 

To make sure testing and treatment are free for everyone. 
 
To make sure vaccines are safe, free, and equitably distributed. 

To make sure we are better prepared for future pandemics and other health threats.

And to make sure quality, affordable health care is available to all.

From an early age, I saw the lifesaving work that our health care professionals provide, especially for the most vulnerable among us. 
 
You see, my mother was a breast cancer researcher, and my sister and I spent many hours roaming the halls of the hospital where she worked. 

It’s why I co-founded an auxiliary group to help patients at the county hospital in Oakland more than twenty years ago. 

It’s why we need to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act. 

And it’s why we have to listen to frontline health care workers like Maureen and Talisa. 

During our conversation, Talisa said: 

“We wouldn’t send our soldiers to battle without the gear they need. And we shouldn’t send our doctors and nurses to fight this pandemic without the gear they need.” 

She is right. 

And President-elect Biden and I — along with this world-class team — will make sure we are doing everything we can, to save lives and contain this pandemic once and for all.

Getting this virus under control is one of the defining challenges of our time. 

And we will do what the American people have always done in the face of a great challenge. 

We will stand together and defeat it.