Biden, Harris Preside Over Nationwide Memorial to 400,000 Lives Lost to COVID-19

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

In his first stop after arriving in Washington, D.C. on the evening before his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden along with Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Harris and Douglas Emhoff will participated in a memorial, lighting the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool with 400 lights to honor the 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19. This was the first-ever lighting around the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial.

The memorial featured the lighting around the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, as hundreds of towns, cities, tribes, landmarks, and communities all across the country joined the tribute in a national moment of unity. Iconic buildings like the Empire State Building in New York City and the Space Needle in Seattle, WA were lit in solidarity. Other places across America that participated, included Wilmington, DE, where a short time before, as Biden left for Washington DC, he paid tribute saying “Delaware will always be in my heart.” Also, Oakland, CA; Miami, FL; Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Dearborn, MI; Las Vegas, NV; Philadelphia, PA; Scanton, PA; Charleston, SC; Houston, TX; and tribal lands throughout the nation.
 
In brief, but poignant and moving remarks, Biden said, “To heal, we must remember. And it is hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal. It is important to do that as a nation. That is why we are here today. Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along this sacred pool of reflection and remember all who we have lost.”

Harris said, “We gather tonight, a nation in mourning, to pay tribute to the lives we have lost. A grandmother or grandfather who was our whole world. A parent, partner, sibling, or friend who we still cannot accept, is no longer here. And for many months, we have grieved by ourselves. Tonight, we grieve —and begin healing — together.
 
“Though we may be physically separated, we, the American people, are united in spirit. And my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom. To cherish simple moments. To imagine new possibilities. And to open our hearts, just a little more, to one another.”

They were joined by:

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, who will deliver the Invocation;

Yolanda Adams, a nationally-recognized gospel singer who will sing Hallelujah;

Lori Marie Key, with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Michigan who will sing Amazing Grace.

After Key sang “Amazing Grace,” Biden said, “I mean this from the bottom of my heart, if there are any angels in Heaven they are all nurses. We know from our family experience the courage and pain you observe for others. Thank you.”

“The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris represents the beginning of a new national journey — one that renews its commitment to honor its fallen and rise toward greater heights in their honor. In that spirit, it is important that we pay tribute to those we have lost — and their families — and come together to unite our country, contain this virus, and rebuild our nation,” said PIC CEO and President of Delaware State University Tony Allen.
 
Yolanda Adams triumphantly carries the torch for contemporary gospel and inspirational music. With 13 releases Yolanda has earned a multitude of accolades including four Grammy Awards and selling nearly 10 million albums worldwide. Not only is Yolanda a phenomenal vocalist, but she is also an author, record company executive, fashion designer, mother, and the host on her award-winning nationally syndicated radio show “The Yolanda Adams Morning Show.” Adams grew up in Houston, Texas. After graduating from Texas Southern University, she began a career as a schoolteacher and part-time model in Houston. Yolanda first began to garner attention for her singing in 1982. She released her breakthrough album “Mountain High… Valley Low” in 1999.
 
Lori Marie Key, RN is a 29-year old nurse who worked in her hospital’s COVID-19 unit. She gained prominence in April after a video was circulated over the internet of her singing Amazing Grace during a shift change at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia, MI, part of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, which is a member of national health system Trinity Health. Lori Marie Key appeared on Good Morning America, and she was named Nurse of the Week by “Daily Nurse.” 
 
Cardinal Wilton Gregory is the seventh Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington and the first African American Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Gregory grew up in Chicago where he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 9, 1973, and three years after his ordination began graduate studies at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute (Sant’ Anselmo) in Rome. There, he earned his doctorate in sacred liturgy in 1980. Cardinal Gregory has served in many leading roles in the Catholic Church including as President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2001 – 2004. During his tenure in office, the crisis of sex abuse by Catholic clergy escalated; and under his leadership, the bishops implemented the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse.

Presidential Inauguration Events Get Underway. Here’s How to Participate

Capitol Building, Washington DC, decorated for inauguration of President Barack Obama, January 2009 (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Joe Biden might not get the grand, celebratory inauguration that is traditional (though he did have the largest, with Barack Obama in 2008, and again in 2012 so he knows what it is like), but there is still great programming. Much as the sensational and inspiring Democratic National Convention which was mostly virtual, the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) has planned many events for the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the 46th President and Kamala D. Harris as Vice President (and first woman) to celebrate the beginning of a new national journey toward an America united.

Over the course of five days of programming, “America United” activities will honor our traditions while safely allowing more Americans than ever before to participate from their own homes.

For the full schedule of events, click here.

Saturday January 16th
America United: An Inauguration Welcome Event Celebrating America’s Changemakers: On Saturday, January 16, the PIC will host a welcome event to celebrate America, reflect and honor our history, and highlight the incredible diversity of the nation. Featuring musical performances, celebrity appearances, and remarks from some of the most popular leaders from across the country, the event will kick off five days of programming leading into the inauguration. The event will stream live on Saturday, January 16, from 7:00-8:30 PM ET at bideninaugural.org and on PIC social media platforms.

Monday January 18th
United We Serve: A Celebration of the National MLK Day of Service: On Monday, January 18, 2021, thousands of volunteers across the country will participate in the National Day of Service – an opportunity for all Americans to unite and serve at a time when the global pandemic calls on us to work together and support our communities. Find an event near you here.

The day will culminate in an hour-long celebration that will feature a diverse array of entertainers, inspiring speakers, and stories celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to service. The event will stream live on Monday, January 18, from 8:00-9:00 PM ET at bideninaugural.org and on PIC social media platforms.

If you haven’t signed up to volunteer yet, it’s not too late! So many volunteer organizations are in need right now, and our goal is to encourage everyone to find an organization they can volunteer with, not only on Monday, but throughout the year. Join in honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King by signing up to volunteer and spreading the word among friends, family, and neighbors.

Tuesday January 19th
Nationwide COVID-19 Memorial: On Tuesday, January 19th, the PIC will host a memorial to remember and honor the lives lost to COVID-19 as part of inaugural activities. A Washington, D.C. ceremony on Tuesday, January 19, will feature a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and PIC is inviting cities and towns around the country to join in illuminating buildings and ringing church bells at 5:30 p.m. ET in a national moment of unity and remembrance. The event will stream live on Tuesday, January 19, from 5:30-6:30 PM ET at bideninaugural.org and on PIC social media platforms.

Wednesday January 20th
Inauguration: On Wednesday, January 20, the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies will begin broadcasting at 10:00 AM ET. At noon, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Kamala D. Harris will be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol.

Pass In Review: After the official swearing-in ceremony on the West front of the U.S. Capitol, the President, Dr. Biden, Vice President, and Mr. Emhoff will participate in a Pass In Review on the East front with members of the military. Pass In Reviews are a long-standing military tradition that reflect the peaceful transfer of power to a new Commander-in-Chief.

Arlington National Cemetery Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: The President, Dr. Biden, the Vice President, and Mr. Emhoff will visit Arlington National Cemetery following the swearing-in ceremony and Pass In Review at the U.S. Capitol following the Inaugural ceremonies. They will be joined by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Presidential Escort and Parade Across America: The President will receive a Presidential Escort to the White House. This will be followed by a “Parade Across America,” which will be televised for the American people and feature diverse, dynamic performances in communities across the country.

“Celebrating America” Primetime Special: This will be the capstone prime-time program for the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Kamala D. Harris to celebrate the beginning of a new national journey toward an America united. This night will be hosted by Tom Hanks on January 20 from 8:30-10:30 pm. ET and will showcase the American people’s resilience, heroism, and unified commitment to coming together as a nation to heal and rebuild. 

Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will introduce segments throughout the night ranging from stories of young people making a difference in their communities to musical performances. Foo Fighters, John Legend, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons, and Jon Bon Jovi will perform from iconic locations across the country, with additional performances to be announced. 
 
The program will be carried live by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and PBS. It will be streamed live on PIC social media channels: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch. The PIC’s streaming partners, including Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, NewsNOW from Fox, and AT&T DIRECTV and U-verse, will also be carrying the program live.

Events will be live streamed at bideninaugural.org and on the PIC’s social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Memo from Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain to Incoming White House Senior Staff on First 10 Days of Biden Administration

(Psst: I’m sharing with you inside information on Joe Biden’s first actions in the first days of becoming President of the United States. Has anyone been this prepared, this ready from Day One to act on what was promised during the campaign? Or for that matter, to have key appointments and personnel standing by.)
White House, Washington DC (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Memo from Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain to Incoming White House Senior Staff on the First Ten Days of the Administration
From:         Ron Klain, Chief of Staff
To:               Incoming White House Senior Staff
Re:               Overview of First Ten Days
Date:           January 16, 2021
  President-elect Biden is assuming the presidency in a moment of profound crisis for our nation. We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis. All of these crises demand urgent action. In his first ten days in office, President-elect Biden will take decisive action to address these four crises, prevent other urgent and irreversible harms, and restore America’s place in the world. 

During the campaign, President-elect Biden pledged to take immediate action to start addressing these crises and build back better. As president, he will keep those promises and sign dozens of executive orders, presidential memoranda, and directives to Cabinet agencies in fulfillment of the promises he made. These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises. President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.

These actions will change the course of COVID-19, combat climate change, promote racial equity and support other underserved communities, and rebuild our economy in ways that strengthen the backbone of this country: the working men and women who built our nation. While the policy objectives in these executive actions are bold, I want to be clear: the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the President. 

Full achievement of the Biden-Harris Administration’s policy objectives requires not just the executive actions the president-elect has promised to take, but also robust Congressional action. The president-elect made the case for his first major legislative proposal earlier this week, and will continue to advance legislative solutions to critical problems, such as in the immigration bill he will send to Congress on his first day in office; the build back better recovery proposal to create millions of good-paying union jobs that he will unveil in the coming weeks; and his ongoing support for legislation related to voting rights, the minimum wage, combatting violence against women, and more. 

In order to highlight the actions the president-elect is taking, we are spreading these initial executive actions over a ten-day period. An outline of the president-elect’s plan for this period appears below. This list is not exhaustive; additional actions will be added as they complete a final legal clearance process.

On Inauguration Day, President-elect Biden will sign roughly a dozen actions to combat the four crises, restore humanity to our immigration system, and make government function for the people. As previously announced, he will ask the Department of Education to extend the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for millions of Americans with federal student loans, re-join the Paris Agreement, and reverse the Muslim Ban. The president-elect will launch his “100 Day Masking Challenge” by issuing a mask mandate on federal property and inter-state travel — part of a critical effort to begin to bend the curve on COVID. And, we will take action to extend nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures and provide more than 25 million Americans greater stability, instead of living on the edge every month. 

On January 21, the president-elect will sign a number of executive actions to move aggressively to change the course of the COVID-19 crisis and safely re-open schools and businesses, including by taking action to mitigate spread through expanding testing, protecting workers, and establishing clear public health standards. 

On January 22, the president-elect will direct his Cabinet agencies to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families bearing the brunt of this crisis. 

Between January 25 and February 1, the president-elect will sign additional executive actions, memoranda and Cabinet directives. The president-elect will fulfill his promises to strengthen Buy American provisions so the future of America is made in America. He will take significant early actions to advance equity and support communities of color and other underserved communities. He will take action to begin fulfilling campaign promises related to reforming our criminal justice system. The president-elect will sign additional executive actions to address the climate crisis with the urgency the science demands and ensure that science guides the administration’s decision making. President-elect Biden will take first steps to expand access to health care – including for low-income women and women of color. He will fulfill his promises to restore dignity to our immigration system and our border policies, and start the difficult but critical work of reuniting families separated at the border. And, President-elect Biden will demonstrate that America is back and take action to restore America’s place in the world. 

As noted above, this list is not comprehensive. More items and more details will be forthcoming in the days ahead.

Of course, these actions are just the start of our work. Much more will need to be done to fight COVID-19, build our economy back better, combat systemic racism and inequality, and address the existential threat of the climate crisis. But by February 1st, America will be moving in the right direction on all four of these challenges — and more — thanks to President-elect Joe Biden’s leadership. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden nominated:

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

Biden appointed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possibilities.

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

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

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

They were asking questions as a call to action.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can do it again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are each questions that are calls to action.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m grateful we can work together again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A trailblazing geophysicist and planetary scientist. 

A former chair of the National Science Board.

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

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

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

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

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

She has played a leadership role in ten NASA missions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our plan is as clear as it is bold:

“Get more people vaccinated for free.

“Create more places for them to get vaccinated.

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

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

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

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

Biden continued
:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s Biden’s plan:

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

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

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

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

Get more people vaccinated

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

Create more vaccination sites

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

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

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

Mobilize more personnel to get shots in arms. 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FACT SHEET: President-elect Biden Announces American Rescue Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President-elect Biden’s rescue proposal will: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

President-elect Biden’s plan will: 

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

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

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

President-elect Biden’s plan will:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Provide Critical Support to Struggling Communities. 

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

President-elect Biden’s plan will:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Modernize federal information technology to protect against future cyber attacks. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good evening, my fellow Americans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is happening today in the United States of America. 

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

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

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

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

Some 18 million Americans are still relying on unemployment insurance. 

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

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

A crisis of deep human suffering in plain sight.

And there is no time to wait.

We have to act and act now.

This is what the economists are telling us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The very health of our nation is at stake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will also tackle the growing hunger crisis in America.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s 5 million children lifted out of poverty. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can do these bold, practical things now. 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

We cannot let people get evicted.

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

We must act now and decisively.

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

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

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

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

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

The sooner we can rescue and rebuild our economy.

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

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

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

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

We will not give up.  

We will come back together.

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

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

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

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

Come Wednesday, we begin a new chapter.

May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops.

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

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

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

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

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

Click Here to Determine Eligibility and Schedule Appointments with Administrating Providers

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

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

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

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

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

Individuals Age 75 and older

First Responders and Support Staff of First Responder Agencies

Fire Service

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

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

Police and Investigators

State Police, including Troopers

State Park Police, DEC Police, Forest Rangers

SUNY Police

Sheriffs’ Offices

County Police Departments and Police Districts

City, Town, and Village Police Departments

Transit of other Public Authority Police Departments

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

Public Safety Communications

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

Other Sworn and Civilian Personnel

Court Officers

Other Police or Peace Officers

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

Corrections

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

Local Correctional Facilities, including correction officers

Local Probation Departments, including probation officers

State Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities

Local Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities

P-12 Schools

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

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

In-Person College Instructors

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

Licensed, Registered, Approved or Legally Exempt Childcare Providers

In-Person College Instructors 

Public-Facing Grocery Store Workers

Public Transit

Airline and airport employees

Passenger railroad employees

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

Ferry employees

Port Authority employees

Public bus employee

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

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

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

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

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

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (NYC)

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

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

Additional sites will be launched in the days to come.

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

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

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

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Expands Vaccine Distribution Network

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

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

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

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

870,000 Education workers

207,000 first responders

100,000 public safety workers

100,000 public transit workers

1.4 million people 75 and older

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

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

Prioritization

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

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

Staffing

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

Licensed Practical Nurses

Pharmacists

Pharmacy Technicians

Midwives

Dentists

Certain Dental Hygienists

Podiatrists

Emergency Medical Technicians

Certain Eligible Students

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

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

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

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

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

Check if you are eligible to receive the vaccine here

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

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

 _________________

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