Tag Archives: coronavirus pandemic

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

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

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

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

Here are his remarks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
MOBILIZING THE COUNTRY TO DO MORE VACCINATION EDUCATION AND OUTREACH:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Biden Bolsters Efforts to Help Americans Return to Work

President Biden announces additional steps to help Americans return to work, saying, “We need to stay focused on creating jobs and beating this pandemic today, and building back better for tomorrow.  The American Rescue Plan is just that: a rescue plan.  It’s to get us out of the crisis and back on the track, but it’s not nearly enough.  That’s why we need the American Jobs Plan, which is an eight-year investment — an eight-year investment strategy to make sure working people of this country get to share in the benefits of a rising economy, and to put us in a position to win the competition with China and the rest of the world for the 21st century.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

Over the first three full months of the Biden-Harris Administration, the economy added more than 1.5 million jobs, or more than 500,000 jobs per month on average. That compares to an average of 60,000 jobs per month in the three previous months. These three months have seen the strongest first three months of job growth of any administration.

Despite this progress, there’s more work to do to climb out of the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. The Biden-Harris Administration is acting aggressively to ensure that the millions of Americans who remain unemployed, through no fault of their own, can find safe, good-paying work as quickly as possible. That’s why the President is announcing today that the Administration will take steps to remove barriers that are preventing Americans from returning safely to good-paying work and take steps to make it easier for employers to hire new workers.

And, the President and the Administration will reaffirm the basic rules of the unemployment insurance (UI) program. Anyone receiving UI who is offered a suitable job must take it or lose their UI benefits. A core purpose of the UI program is helping workers get back to work, and UI provides laid-off workers with temporary assistance to help pay bills and relieve hardship. By reaffirming these rules and purposes, the Administration will ensure that the UI program continues to support workers and facilitate hiring.

“Let’s be clear,” President Joe Biden stated, “our economic plan is working.  I never said — and no serious analyst ever suggested — that climbing out of the deep, deep hole our economy was in would be simple, easy, immediate, or perfectly steady.  Remember, 22 million Americans lost their jobs in this pandemic. 
 
“So, some months will exceed expectations; others will fall short.  The question is, ‘What is the trendline?  Are we headed in the right direction?  Are we taking the right steps to keep it going?’ And the answer, clearly, is yes…

“Twenty-two million people lost their jobs in this pandemic through no fault of their own.  They lost their jobs to a virus, and to a government that bungled its response to the crisis and failed to protect them. 
 
“We still have 8 million fewer jobs than we did when the pandemic started.  And for many of those folks, unemployment benefits are a lifeline.  No one should be allowed to game the system and we’ll insist the law is followed, but let’s not take our eye off the ball…

“So we need to stay focused on creating jobs and beating this pandemic today, and building back better for tomorrow.  The American Rescue Plan is just that: a rescue plan.  It’s to get us out of the crisis and back on the track, but it’s not nearly enough. 
 
“That’s why we need the American Jobs Plan, which is an eight-year investment — an eight-year investment strategy to make sure working people of this country get to share in the benefits of a rising economy, and to put us in a position to win the competition with China and the rest of the world for the 21st century.” 
 
Specifically, today the President is:

REMOVING BARRIERS THAT ARE KEEPING AMERICANS FROM RETURNING SAFELY TO GOOD-PAYING WORK

Accelerating the Provision of Assistance to Hard-Hit Child Care Providers to Get More Parents Back to Work

Between February 2020 and March 2021, 520,000 mothers and 170,000 fathers between ages 20 and 54 left the labor force and have not returned. Many need or want to work but cannot because of child care disruptions. At the same time, early childhood and child care providers – nearly all small businesses, overwhelmingly owned by women and disproportionately owned by people of color – have been hit hard by the pandemic. According to one survey, as of December, about one in four child care providers open at the start of the pandemic were closed, hindering access to care, especially for families of color. Child care providers that have stayed open have gone to enormous lengths to do so and are struggling to stay open: two in five providers report taking on debt for their programs using personal credit cards to pay for increased costs and three in five work in programs that have reduced expenses through layoffs, furloughs, or pay cuts. And, there are 150,000 fewer child care jobs today than there were at the beginning of the pandemic.

The American Rescue Plan provides funding to address the child care crisis caused by COVID-19 to help parents who need or want to work to return to their jobs. This includes funding to stabilize the child care industry so that parents can send their children to safe, healthy, stable child care environments and additional funding to help families access affordable, high-quality care, including by providing subsidized care to more than 800,000 families with the greatest need and by providing resources for hard-hit child care providers.

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services is releasing guidance to states, tribes, and territories so that states can start getting the child care stabilization funding to providers immediately. The guidance will encourage states to get funding out quickly and to make it as easy as possible for hundreds of thousands of child care providers, including centers and family-based providers, to receive the funding. It will also encourage states to allow the funds to be used broadly to meet the unique needs of providers so they can reopen or maintain essential services. It will explain, for example, how they can use the funds to bolster their workforce, cover expenses like rent and utilities, and pay for goods and services needed to stay open or reopen. And, it will provide guidance on ways providers can use funds to help them operate according to CDC guidelines, so that as parents return to work, they can have peace of mind their children are in a safe and healthy learning environment. In all, these funds will support child care providers in keeping their doors open, benefiting the parents of more than 5 million children who rely on them to stay in or return to the labor force.

And, thanks to the historic expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) in the American Rescue Plan, families can rest assured that they can receive up to half of their child care expenses this year when they file taxes for 2021. A median income family with two kids under age 13 will receive a tax credit of up to $8,000 towards this year’s expenses, compared with a maximum of $1,200 previously.

Directing the Secretary of Labor to Safely Expand States’ Reemployment Services and Workforce Development Boards’ Jobs Counseling for Unemployment Beneficiaries.

States receive federal funding for Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA) of UI beneficiaries to help them find employment while ensuring they remain eligible for benefits. These services shorten workers’ time on unemployment benefits by helping them match with good jobs and confirm their eligibility for benefits. States significantly and appropriately slowed in-person RESEA meetings in the midst of historic unemployment and the COVID-19 pandemic. With the economy and jobs growing again, the President will direct the Secretary of Labor to issue guidance to states to quickly and safely – consistent with CDC and OSHA guidance – expand their RESEA programs so that more UI beneficiaries can return to work. 

Similarly, the public workforce system’s Workforce Development Boards (WDB) collectively receive hundreds of millions of dollars they can use to provide individualized career counseling, called “individual career services,” to job seekers. However, because of the pandemic’s risks, many WDBs stopped providing in-person services and had to quickly transition to remote services. Now that tens of millions of Americans have been vaccinated, and we know how to operate physical locations safely, the President will direct the Secretary of Labor to work with the public workforce system to provide the maximum level possible of individual career services to UI beneficiaries and other unemployed workers using existing resources, and in a manner consistent with CDC and OSHA guidance.

MAKING IT EASIER FOR EMPLOYERS TO HIRE NEW WORKERS

Supporting Hard-Hit Restaurants and Bars
 
Restaurants, bars, and other small businesses offering on-site food and beverages are vital to our communities and economy. From big cities to small towns, these restaurants and bars offer communities a place to gather, celebrate, and share ideas. They also employed nearly 12 percent of all workers prior to the pandemic. Despite their importance, restaurants and bars have suffered severely during the pandemic. The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes restaurants and bars, had 17 percent fewer jobs this April than in February 2020.
 
Though we have seen significant progress under the Biden-Harris Administration – leisure and hospitality added 331,000 jobs in April, by far the most of any industry and more than it added in March – there is still more work to do to help this critical sector recover. Established through the American Rescue Plan, the Biden-Harris Administration recently launched the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) – a program to aid restaurants, bars, food trucks, and other food and drink establishments. These grants will give restaurants and bars the flexibility to hire back workers at good wages. In the first two days of the program, 186,200 restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and five U.S. Territories applied for relief.
 
Today, the Administration is sending the first grants under the program to 16,000 hard-hit restaurants. These include restaurants in states and territories throughout the country, and restaurants owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
 
Providing States and Localities with the Resources They Need to Help Return Americans to Work

The American Rescue Plan delivered flexible Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that will help state and local governments hire back public sector workers; ramp up the effectiveness of their COVID response and vaccination programs to make return to work, school, and care safer; and bolster efforts to help workers negatively affected by the pandemic to train for and secure good-paying jobs. With today’s announcement, the U.S. Department of Treasury is making the first segment of these funds available to states and localities and laying out how these funds can be used to address pandemic-response needs and support the communities and populations hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

State and local employment remains 1.3 million jobs down since before the pandemic.  Learning from the mistakes of the Great Recession, when state and local government budget cuts were a drag on GDP growth for 23 of the 26 quarters following the crisis, the funds will provide these governments with the resources needed to help address challenges in returning Americans to work. This includes in the public sector, where state and local employment remains down over one million jobs since the start of the pandemic. Fiscal Recovery Funds will help bring firefighters, teachers, school staff, cops, and other public servants back to work.

Helping Employers – Especially Small Businesses – Rehire and Retain Workers Through the Extended and Expanded Employee Retention Credit
 
To help hard-hit employers rehire and retain workers, President Biden extended and expanded the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) in the American Rescue Plan. This year, the ERC offers eligible employers with 500 or fewer employees a tax credit of 70 percent of the first $10,000 in wages per employee per quarter. In other words, this refundable, advanceable credit will cover up to $7,000 in wages per quarter or $28,000 per year for each employee. For example:

  • A small independent retailer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with 25 employees has $130,000 in payroll expenses per quarter (all for employees earning less than $10,000 in the quarter), and experiences a 25 percent decline in gross receipts in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2019. The retailer is eligible for the Employee Retention Credit in the first quarter since it experienced a greater than 20 percent decline in gross receipts. The retailer is also eligible for the ERC in the second quarter because of the decline as compared to 2019 in the immediately preceding first quarter.  The retailer can claim a tax credit of $91,000 in both the first and second quarters (for a total of $182,000).  The amount of the tax credit would be applied against the retailer’s quarterly federal payroll tax amount, and then, assuming that the $91,000 was in excess of the total liability for the quarter, the excess would be advanced (or paid by the government directly to the retailer).  If the retailer experienced declines in gross receipts in the third quarter as compared to 2019, it could claim an additional tax credit (in a similar amount) for the third quarter and the fourth quarter. The small retail business could use this advance – which could amount to tens of thousands of dollars – to rehire workers, raise wages, improve facilities, and purchase new inventory.

While more than 30,000 small businesses have already claimed more than $1 billion in ERCs this year, the Biden-Harris Administration is working to increase awareness of and participation in this beneficial program. Specifically, this week, the Treasury Department will disseminate clear and concise steps on how businesses can determine their eligibility and claim the ERC. These and other efforts will help businesses bring employees back sooner and keep them on the job as the economy recovers.
 
Helping Employers Ramp Back Up
 
As businesses ramp back up without knowing how many workers they will need to operate as the economy recovers, some will look to bring workers on part-time. The UI system offers options for these employers and their returning workers.  Workers shouldn’t have to choose between losing their full UI benefits to take part-time work that represents only a portion of their original salary. The Department of Labor will announce this week how unemployed workers who are rehired part-time don’t have to face that choice.  They can work part-time while still receiving part of their UI benefits so they can work and still make ends meet.

There are two programs that can help and the Department of Labor this week will help highlight them:

  • Short-Time Compensation: Short-time compensation was designed to help prevent layoffs by allowing workers to remain employed at reduced hours and still collect a portion of their UI benefits. But it can also be used to help employers rehire their already laid off workers. If an employer brings a laid-off employee back part-time and participates in the short-time compensation program, that worker will receive pro-rated UI benefits to help cover reduced compensation for not working full time, as well as the $300 weekly supplement until that supplement expires September 6th. 

    The Biden-Harris Administration will highlight this program to help employers rehire their laid-off employees in the coming weeks and work to make it as easy as possible for employers and workers to participate. Short-time compensation programs are currently available in . These benefits are fully federally funded through September 6 for those states.
     
  • Partial UI: Another overlooked option for helping employers ramp up is the partial UI program, which allows workers to return to work at a new employer at reduced hours while still receiving some unemployment benefits. This is a good option for workers who may not qualify for short-time compensation because they are not returning to their previous employer. States can enhance the capacity of partial UI by raising the income threshold where workers can both work and receive some UI benefits, and the Department of Labor will be encouraging states to do so.


CLARIFYING RULES OF THE UI PROGRAM

This week, the Department of Labor will reaffirm longstanding UI requirements to make sure everyone, including states, employers, and workers, understands the rules of the road for UI benefits. These clarifications will also help ease a return to work. Specifically, the Secretary of Labor will issue a letter to states to reaffirm that individuals receiving UI may not continue to receive benefits if they turn down a suitable job due to a general, non-specific concern about COVID-19.  In addition, the President is directing the Secretary of Labor to work with states to reinstate work search requirements for UI recipients, if health and safety conditions allow.

  • Clarifying Rules of UI Programs: The Department of Labor will clarify that, under all UI programs including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program put in place last year, workers may not turn down a job due to a general, non-specific concern about COVID-19 and continue to receive benefits. Under the PUA program, a worker may receive benefits if the worker certifies weekly that one of the few specific COVID-related reasons specified by Congress is the cause of their unemployment. These reasons include, for example, that the worker has a child at home who cannot go to school because of the pandemic or that the worker is offered a job at a worksite that is out of compliance with federal or state health requirements. Moreover, workers may not misreport a COVID-related reason for unemployment.  The President is directing the Department of Labor to take concrete steps to raise awareness about these and other requirements.
     
  • Directing the Secretary of Labor to Work with States on Work Search Requirements: The President is directing the Secretary of Labor to work with states to reinstate work search requirements for UI recipients, if health and safety conditions allow.  As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law last year by the previous Administration, states receiving certain federal relief funds were required to waive their requirements that workers search for work in order to continue receiving unemployment benefits. While 29 states have already reinstated their work search requirements, the President is directing the Department of Labor to work with the remaining states, as health and safety conditions allow, to put in place appropriate work search requirements as the economy continues to rebound, vaccinations increase, and the pandemic is brought under control.

A core purpose of the UI program is helping workers get back to work. UI keeps workers connected to the labor market during spells of unemployment by providing workers with income that allows them to look for a job match commensurate with their skills or prior wages. UI recipients also gain access to crucial reemployment services to help with job search or retraining where necessary. Ensuring a good job match is good for workers, as well as employers who want the best candidates for their jobs.

Returning to work during a pandemic is more complicated than searching for work in ordinary times. The COVID-19 pandemic remains a genuine challenge for our country, with infections, hospitalizations, and deaths down substantially when compared with last year, but still at unacceptably high levels. While vaccinations are on the rise with over half of American adults having received at least one shot, around a quarter of those aged 18 to 29 and around a third of those aged 30 to 39 are fully vaccinated. There is a great deal more to do.

At the same time, our economy is growing again at an annual rate of more than 6% and more than 1.5 million jobs have been created over the last three months. Many more workers would like to return to work if they can overcome the barriers that stand in the way. We can and will continue to ensure workers and their families are protected from COVID-19, while also helping those who are able and available to search for good jobs in safe and healthy workplaces.

‘Key to Getting Funds Into Hands of Providers’

Katie Hamm, acting deputy assistant secretary for Early Childhood Development at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, stated,  “Today, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released guidance to support states, territories, and tribes in distributing $24 billion in relief funds for child care providers. The guidance explains specific requirements related to the child care stabilization funds and identifies opportunities for states, territories, and tribes to leverage these resources to support a wide range of child care providers.

“The guidance is key to getting funds into the hands of providers that employ essential workers and help make child care accessible to working families. These funds essentially help stabilize the industry and spur economic growth in communities hit hardest by the pandemic. Most of these funds will go to providers and can be used for a variety of operating expenses, including wages and benefits, rent and utilities, personal protective equipment and sanitization and cleaning.

“This guidance lays out a roadmap for stabilizing the child care sector.  The document is meant to support and guide child care agencies in awarding grants to child care centers and family child care providers, which are vital to our nation’s economic recovery.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York and New Jersey Announce Today:

Social Distance-based Business Capacities

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

Increase in Social and Residential Gathering Limits

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

Event Venues

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

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

Industry Reopening Requirements

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

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

Connecticut Previously Announced:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden: ‘This is Deadly Serious’

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

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

 FACT SHEET:

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

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

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

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

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

Actions include:

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

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

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

Biden on Anniversary of COVID-19 Shutdown: ‘ We’ll come out stronger with a renewed faith in ourselves, a renewed commitment to one another, to our communities, and to our country’

“Over a year ago, no one could’ve imagined what we were about to go through, but now we’re coming through it, and it’s a shared experience that binds us together as a nation,” President Biden declared in a public address marking the one-year anniversary since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and the nation was shut down. “We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by. But we’re also bound together by the hope and the possibilities of the days in front of us.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden delivered his first public address to the nation on the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a global pandemic and the nation shut down. He delivered it with compassion and understanding for the turmoil, the loss of lives and livelihoods, that every American has endured, and delivered it with somber but hopeful tone that a better future is just ahead. He even put a date on it, setting a goal of July 4th, when it Americans can once again gather together in celebration of independence. The date was not random or fantastical, but based on the progress made in substantively increasing the supply and distribution of vaccine, and warned that there still could be forces – like more transmissible variants – that could interfere with the July 4th date. He took responsibility in a whole-of-government sense, but also called upon the nation, in unity, to continue to use public health measures – wearing masks, social distancing and hand-washing – so that the July 4th goal could be achieved. He reminded Americans of what it means to be an American – to be optimistic, innovative, heroic.

“Over a year ago, no one could’ve imagined what we were about to go through, but now we’re coming through it, and it’s a shared experience that binds us together as a nation,” President Biden declared. “We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by. But we’re also bound together by the hope and the possibilities of the days in front of us.”

Here are President Biden’s remarks, highlighted: THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, my fellow Americans.

Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about where we are as we mark one year since everything stopped because of this pandemic.

A year ago, we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked.
 
Denials for days, weeks, then months that led to more deaths, more infections, more stress, and more loneliness.


Photos and videos from 2019 feel like they were taken in another era. The last vacation. The last birthday with friends. The last holiday with the extended family.

While it was different for everyone, we all lost something.
 
A collective suffering. A collective sacrifice. A year filled with the loss of life — and the loss of living for all of us.
 
But, in the loss, we saw how much there was to gain in appreciation, respect, and gratitude.


Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it may be the most American thing we do.

And that’s what we’ve done.

We’ve seen frontline and essential workers risking their lives — sometimes losing them — to save and help others. Researchers and scientists racing for a vaccine. And so many of you, as Hemingway wrote, being strong in all the broken places.

I know it’s been hard. I truly know.

As I’ve told you before, I carry a card in my pocket with the number of Americans who have died from COVID to date. It’s on the back of my schedule. As of now, the total deaths in America: 527,726. That’s more deaths than in World War One, World War Two, the Vietnam War, and 9/11 combined.

They were husbands, wives, sons and daughters, grandparents, friends, neighbors — young and old. They leave behind loved ones unable to truly grieve or to heal, even to have a funeral.
 
But I’m also thinking about everyone else who lost this past year to natural causes, by cruel fate of accident, or other diseases. They, too, died alone. They, too, leave loved ones behind who are hurting badly.
 
You know, you’ve often heard me say before, I talk about the longest walk any parent can make is up a short flight of stairs to his child’s bedroom to say, “I’m sorry. I lost my job. We can’t be here anymore.” Like my Dad told me when he lost his job in Scranton.

So many of you have had to make that same walk this past year.

You lost your job. You closed your business. Facing eviction, homelessness, hunger, a loss of control, and, maybe worst of all, a loss of hope.
 
Watching a generation of children who may be set back up to a year or more — because they’ve not been in school — because of their loss of learning.
 
It’s the details of life that matter most, and we’ve missed those details.

The big details and small moments.  

Weddings, birthdays, graduations — all the things that needed to happen but didn’t. The first date. The family reunions. The Sunday night rituals.

It’s all has exacted a terrible cost on the psyche of so many of us. For we are fundamentally a people who want to be with others — to talk, to laugh, to hug, to hold one another.

But this virus has kept us apart.

Grandparents haven’t seen their children or grandchildren. Parents haven’t seen their kids. Kids haven’t seen their friends.

The things we used to do that always filled us with joy have become the things we couldn’t do and broke our hearts.

Too often, we’ve turned against one another.
 
A mask — the easiest thing to do to save lives — sometimes it divides us.

States pitted against one other instead of working with each other.
 
Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans
, who have been attacked, harassed, blamed, and scapegoated. At this very moment, so many of them — our fellow Americans — they’re on the frontlines of this pandemic, trying to save lives, and still — still — they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.

Look, we know what we need to do to beat this virus: Tell the truth. Follow the scientists and the science. Work together. Put trust and faith in our government to fulfill its most important function, which is protecting the American people — no function more important.

We need to remember the government isn’t some foreign force in a distant capital. No, it’s us. All of us. “We the People.” For you and I, that America thrives when we give our hearts, when we turn our hands to common purpose. And right now, my friends, we are doing just that. And I have to say, as your President, I am grateful to you.

Last summer, I was in Philadelphia, and I met a small-business owner — a woman. I asked her — I said, “What do you need most?” I’ll never forget what she said to me. She said — looking me in the eye, she said, “I just want the truth. The truth. Just tell me the truth.” Think of that.

My fellow Americans, you’re owed nothing less than the truth.

And for all of you asking when things will get back to normal, here is the truth: The only way to get our lives back, to get our economy back on track is to beat the virus.

You’ve been hearing me say that for — while I was running and the last 50 days I’ve been President. But this is one of the most complex operations we’ve under- — ever undertaken as a nation in a long time.

That’s why I’m using every power I have as President of the United States to put us on a war footing to get the job done. It sounds like hyperbole, but I mean it: a war footing.

And thank God we’re making some real progress now.

On my first full day in office, I outlined for you a comprehensive strategy to beat this pandemic. And we have spent every day since attempting to carry it out.

Two months ago, the country — this country didn’t have nearly enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all or near all of the American public. But soon we will.

We’ve been working with the vaccine manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson — to manufacture and purchase hundreds of millions of doses of these three safe, effective vaccines. And now, at the direction and with the assistance of my administration, Johnson & Johnson is working together with a competitor, Merck, to speed up and increase the capacity to manufacture new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is one shot.

In fact, just yesterday, I announced — and I met with the CEOs of both companies — I announced our plan to buy an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines.  These two companies — competitors — have come together for the good of the nation, and they should be applauded for it.

It’s truly a national effort, just like we saw during World War II.

Now because of all the work we’ve done, we’ll have enough vaccine supply for all adults in America by the end of May. That’s months ahead of schedule.

And we’re mobilizing thousands of vaccinators to put the vaccine in one’s arm. Calling on active duty military, FEMA, retired doctors and nurses, administrators, and those to administer the shots.

And we’ve been creating more places to get the shots. We’ve made it possible for you to get a vaccine at any one of nearly 10,000 pharmacies across the country, just like you get your flu shot.

We’re also working with governors and mayors, in red states and blue states, to set up and support nearly 600 federally supported vaccination centers that administer hundreds of thousands of shots per day. You can drive up to a stadium or a large parking lot, get your shot, never leave your car, and drive home in less than an hour.

We’ve been sending vaccines to hundreds of community health centers all across America, located in underserved areas. And we’ve been deploying and we will deploy more mobile vehicles and pop-up clinics to meet you where you live so those who are least able to get the vaccine are able to get it.

We continue to work on making at-home testing available.  
 
And we’ve been focused on serving people in the hardest-hit communities of this pandemic — Black, Latino, Native American, and rural communities.

So, what does all this add up to? When I took office 50 days ago, only 8 percent of Americans after months — only 8 percent of those over the age of 65 had gotten their first vaccination. Today, that number is [nearly] 65 percent. Just 14 percent of Americans over the age 75, 50 days ago, had gotten their first shot. Today, that number is well over 70 percent.

With new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the CDC — that came out on Monday, it means simply this: Millions and millions of grandparents who went months without being able to hug their grandkids can now do so. And the more people who are fully vaccinated, the CD [CDC] will continue to provide guidance on what you can do in the workplace, places of worship, with friends, and as well as travel.

When I came into office, you may recall, I set a goal that many of you said was, kind of, way over the top. I said I intended to get 100 million shots in people’s arms in my first 100 days in office. Tonight, I can say we are not only going to meet that goal, we’re going to beat that goal. Because we’re actually on track to reach this goal of 100 million shots in arms on my 60th day in office. No other country in the world has done this. None.
 

Now I want to talk about the next steps we’re thinking about.

First, tonight, I’m announcing that I will direct all states, tribes, and territories to make all adults — people 18 and over — eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1.

Let me say that again: All adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1. That’s much earlier than expected.

Let me be clear: That doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately, but it means you’ll be able to get in line beginning May 1. Every adult will be eligible to get their shot.

To do this, we’re going to go from a million shots a day that I promised in December, before I was sworn in, to maintaining — beating our current pace of two million shots a day, outpacing the rest of the world.

Secondly, at the time when every adult is eligible in May, we will launch, with our partners, new tools to make it easier for you to find the vaccine and where to get the shot, including a new website that will help you first find the place to get vaccinated and the one nearest you. No more searching day and night for an appointment for you and your loved ones.

Thirdly, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan — and I thank again the House and Senate for passing it — and my announcement last month of a plan to vaccinate teachers and school staff, including bus drivers, we can accelerate the massive, nationwide effort to reopen our schools safely and meet my goal, that I stated at the same time about 100 million shots, of opening the majority of K-8 schools in my first 100 days in office. This is going to be the number one priority of my new Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona.

Fourth, in the coming weeks, we will issue further guidance on what you can and cannot do once fully vaccinated, to lessen the confusion, to keep people safe, and encourage more people to get vaccinated.

And finally, fifth, and maybe most importantly: I promise I will do everything in my power, I will not relent until we beat this virus, but I need you, the American people. I need you. I need every American to do their part. And that’s not hyperbole. I need you.

I need you to get vaccinated when it’s your turn and when you can find an opportunity, and to help your family and friends and neighbors get vaccinated as well.

Because here’s the point: If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbeque and celebrate Independence Day. That doesn’t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together.

After this long hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.

But to get there, we can’t let our guard down.
 
This fight is far from order — from over. As I told the woman in Pennsylvania, “I will tell you the truth.”

A July 4th with your loved ones is the goal. But a goal — a lot can happen; conditions can change.

The scientists have made clear that things may get worse again as new variants of the virus spread.
 
And we’ve got work to do to ensure everyone has confidence in the safety and effectiveness of all three vaccines.

So my message to you is this: Listen to Dr. Fauci, one of the most distinguished and trusted voices in the world. He has assured us the vaccines are safe. They underwent rigorous scientific review. I know they’re safe. Vice President Harris and I know they’re safe. That’s why we got the vaccine publicly in front of cameras so — for the world to see, so you could see us do it. The First Lady and the Second Gentleman also got vaccinated.

Talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors — the people you know best who’ve gotten the vaccine.

We need everyone to get vaccinated. We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay socially distanced, and keep wearing the masks as recommended by the CDC.

Because even if we devote every resource we have, beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity.

And national unity isn’t just how politics and politicians vote in Washington or what the loudest voices say on cable or online. Unity is what we do together as fellow Americans. Because if we don’t stay vigilant and the conditions change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track. And, please, we don’t want to do again.

We’ve made so much progress. This is not the time to let up. Just as we are emerging from a dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer is not the time to not stick with the rules.

I’ll close with this.

We’ve lost so much over the last year.

We’ve lost family and friends.

We’ve lost businesses and dreams we spent years building.

We’ve lost time — time with each other.

And our children have lost so much time with their friends, time with their schools. No graduation ceremonies this — this spring. No graduations from college, high school, moving-up ceremonies.

You know, and there’s something else we lost.

We lost faith in whether our government and our democracy can deliver on really hard things for the American people.

But as I stand here tonight, we’re proving once again something I have said time and time again until they’re probably tired of hearing me say it. I say it foreign leaders and domestic alike: It’s never, ever a good bet to bet against the American people. America is coming back.

The development, manufacture, and distribution of the vaccines in record time is a true miracle of science. It is one of the most extraordinary achievements any country has ever accomplished.

And we also just saw the Perseverance rover land on Mars. Stunning images of our dreams that are now a reality. Another example of the extraordinary American ingenuity, commitment, and belief in science and one another.

And today, I signed into law the American Rescue Plan, an historic piece of legislation that delivers immediate relief to millions of people. It includes $1,400 in direct rescue checks — payments. That means a typical family of four earning about $110,000 will get checks for $5,600 deposited if they have direct deposit or in a check — a Treasury check.
 
It extends unemployment benefits. It helps small businesses. It lowers healthcare premiums for many. It provides food and nutrition, keeps families in their homes. And it will cut child poverty in this country in half, according to the experts. And it funds all the steps I’ve just described to beat the virus and create millions of jobs.

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be traveling, along with the First Lady, the Vice President, the Second Gentleman and members of my Cabinet, to speak directly to you, to tell you the truth about how the American Rescue Plan meets the moment. And if it fails, I will acknowledge that it failed. But it will not.

About how after a long, dark years — one whole year, there is hope and light of better days ahead.

If we all do our part, this country will be vaccinated soon, our economy will be on the mend, our kids will be back in school, and we will have proven once again that this country can do anything — hard things, big things, important things.

Over a year ago, no one could’ve imagined what we were about to go through, but now we’re coming through it, and it’s a shared experience that binds us together as a nation. We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by. But we’re also bound together by the hope and the possibilities of the days in front of us.

My fervent prayer for our country is that, after all we have been through, we’ll come together as one people, one nation, one America.

I believe we can and we will. We’re seizing this moment. And history, I believe, will record: We faced and overcame one of the toughest and darkest periods in this nation’s history — darkest we’ve ever known.

I promise you, we’ll come out stronger with a renewed faith in ourselves, a renewed commitment to one another, to our communities, and to our country.

This is the United States of America, and there is nothing — nothing — from the bottom of my heart, I believe this — there is nothing we can’t do when we do it together.

So God bless you all.

And please, God, give solace to all those people who lost someone.

And may God protect our troops.

Thank you for taking the time to listen.

I look forward to seeing you.

Cuomo Administration Releases Public Statements That Show Consistency of Reporting Nursing Home Resident Deaths Where They Died

New York State Governor Mario Cuomo emphasizes importance of wearing masks and social distancing to curtail the spread of COVID-19 at a coronavirus briefing held at Northwell Health, Long Island, in May 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Amidst the scandal swirling around New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo concerning statistics on nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 that has prompted an independent investigation by the New York Attorney General Leticia James and by the FBI, and led to the New York Legislature stripping the governor of his emergency public health authority, Beth Garvey, special counsel to the Governor released a synopsis of public statements which reiterated that deaths were counted in the facility where individuals died. Here is her statement:

“It has been reported that this administration did not disclose the fact that additional data existed regarding out of facility deaths. To be clear, multiple times during the time the July 6 DOH report was being developed, public statements were made during the daily briefings and in the press regarding the existence of the data, but noting that the deaths were being counted in the facility where individuals died.  There were repeated public statements acknowledging the out of facility deaths were not being listed as a subset of nursing home deaths stemming from concerns related to potential for double counting and consistency and accuracy. 

COVID Taskforce members, including Melissa DeRosa, Linda Lacewell, and Jim Malatras, were involved in reviewing the draft report — none of them changed any of the fatality numbers or “altered” the fatality data.  After asking DOH questions as to the source of the previously unpublished data — to which there were not clear or complete answers  — and probing to determine whether it was relevant to the outcome of the report, a decision was made to use the data set that was reported by the place of death with firsthand knowledge of the circumstances, which gave a higher degree of comfort in its accuracy.  The Chamber concluded that given the uncertainty of one data set that had not been verified, it did not need to be included, because it did not change the ultimate conclusions, as shown in the revised report which did include that additional data.  DOH has repeatedly said they support both the original and revised reports as issued. 

This decision was only made after determining that it didn’t change the outcome, and that we understood that the same conclusions were supported by both data sets. The methodology used was disclosed in the report and reflected that it was specific to in-facility, as our public data had always shown as well.   

The out of facility data was repeatedly discussed in public briefings and we consistently acknowledged those deaths were being counted in the total death count through the place of death data.  There is no credible claim that the public or legislators did not know there was a subset of out of facility deaths that had been reported to DOH but was not yet disclosed as it had not yet been verified as this was the topic of public press briefings and inquiries (see below).

 There is currently a review by the Department of Justice, and we are cooperating fully with that inquiry. Again, there was no undercount, as total deaths irrespective of location were always disclosed, and the methodology of how data was being presented was accurate. 

The report was intended to detail whether the March 25 advisory memo contributed to increased deaths, and not be a full accounting of every death. We have since updated the report, and it now includes out of facility deaths, with the exception of a limited subset which cannot be confirmed to a sufficient degree of reliability, and that is clearly denoted — the updated report supports the same conclusion of the initial July report.” 

EXAMPLES OF PAST STATEMENTS BELOW:

May 2020

  • 5/5/20: (Press Conference Q+A) – Reporter: Governor, can you comment on, it looks like there’s some new reporting regarding nursing homes and it would increase the total by about 1,700 in terms of total deaths. Does that count towards the official tally? Are they in a different category? How is that being reported out?
  • Governor Cuomo: You have, I’ll ask Jim and Melissa to explain this because I don’t know the details, frankly. You have two categories – confirmed deaths and then probable or presumed deaths, and they list numbers in both categories. Some people combine the two, confirmed deaths and presumed deaths and have one number. Some people keep them separate and then they are often reported separately or they’re reported together. But that has been going on for a while, but Jim is there, is that accurate?
  • Jim Malatras: That’s accurate, Governor. We reported the past, we asked the nursing homes to provide updated information. They originally provided about 3,100 total deaths. The confirmed deaths of those are actually 2,100. That gets added to the official count. We’re counting both the presumed and confirmed. But the confirmed deaths are the ones we’re running in the official tally. Other localities are submitting unconfirmed deaths but we want to confirm those things as much as we can. But now we’re putting up both categories so people can clearly see because some of the cities are reporting both together and it was difficult to tease out. So we’ve asked them the report clearly that line of both confirmed and presumed.
  • Question: [inaudible] Isabella Geriatric Center which is something we drew attention to this week, they issued a statement saying there have been 98 deaths but the official reporting shows less than that, something in the 60s. That does that not count hospital deaths. In other words someone goes from the facility to a hospital is that then counted differently?
  • Jim Malatras: Those get reported in the hospitalization deaths. The Isabella situation, they reported 60 but in actuality it’s 21 confirmed deaths and the remaining being presumed which we’ll have to officially try to confirm one way or another. So it is in line with keeping with what they were sending before, but we’ve asked those facilities to update which they have.
  • Governor Cuomo: In fact just to just to be clear I would take all of these numbers now with a grain of salt. We were just saying the confirmed deaths, you know what that means. What does a presumed death mean, right? We presume it. How do you presume it to be coronavirus? Also the at-home deaths, non-hospital, non-nursing-home deaths, just at-home deaths, when do you actually get all the numbers on those and how do you confirm all those deaths as attributed to coronavirus? So I would caveat with all of these. I think they’re going to change over time.

May 23, 2020 – The City

It’s unclear how many of the veterans died of confirmed or presumed COVID-19. The state Health Department says 35 residents there had died of coronavirus-related causes through May 22.  But that figure doesn’t include residents who died at hospitals — which health officials said are reported solely in the overall tally of state COVID deaths, in part to avoid double-counting.
https://www.thecity.nyc/coronavirus/2020/5/23/21270845/remember-their-names-nyc-veterans-nursing-home-staff-leaks-list-of-48-who-died

May 28, 2020 – NY1 

Initially, the state only counted residents who tested positive for COVID-19 and died at the facility.  Then it added to the tally residents who only had a suspected case and died. But the state is not including in these figures adult care facility residents who were transferred to a hospital and died of the coronavirus there. The Health Department says that’s “to maintain consistency and reliability in the data as presented, and to avoid any potential for double-counting.”
https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2020/05/28/extent-of-coronavirus-carnage-in-new-york-nursing-homes-may-never-be-known

July 6 report – page 11 Figure 2 lays out the data used for the analysis, saying specifically: “Confirmed and presumed fatalities, NH population only in Nursing Home facilities”

https://www.health.ny.gov/press/releases/2020/docs/nh_factors_report.pdf

FROM PUBLIC HEARING AUGUST 3, 2020:

https://www.nysenate.gov/sites/default/files/08-03-2020_senate_health-care_facilities_and_covid-19_final.pdf

DR. HOWARD ZUCKER: — no, I was going to say, we had — we reported it as someone who’s died in the hospital. [Indiscernible] the nursing home, they went to the hospital, they died in the hospital. We reported as they came from the hospital. We then started to ask, and we tried to get information about who died in the nursing homes. And we started reporting that as getting information from the nursing homes. And we do not want — as I mentioned before, we don’t want to double-count and say this person died here and also died there.

DR. HOWARD ZUCKER: Well, and what I’m saying is, is that, that information, I want to be sure that we are not double-counting individuals, that someone didn’t die for a different reason because — so that’s what we’re trying to do. If someone goes into the hospital from a nursing home, and then they die, or, they — or — and they’re sick in the hospital, and someone says, well, they died because of COVID, well, maybe they died because of something else. I mean, this is something which I mentioned about earlier, about pneumonia. Right? The presumption by CDC was that, they died, the 27 percent of people dying in those two months, was because of pneumonia. And as the director of the CDC said, “presumed to be coronavirus.” Right? But what I want to know is exactly, when someone dies in the hospital, what did they die from?

ASSEMBLY MEMBER BRAUNSTEIN: I think a lot of us may reserve judgment about the conclusions of the report until we have an accurate view of all of the data. And we’re missing a significant amount of people who contracted COVID in a nursing home and then later died in a hospital. And I just think it would bolster the conclusions of the report if, at some point in the future, when you do have that data, maybe you can, you know, add it in the report, just to, you know, make sure that this report is accurate. 

DR. HOWARD ZUCKER: I am confident about the data. I hear what you’re saying. I will also say that in that report you will see that there is a curve that shows the deaths from the nursing homes and deaths in the community, and they line up. And I suspect — not suspect — that I know that this will be the same. 

GARETH RHODES: And I will just add, we’re updating this report down the road. We can include what the experience of other states has been. Then this report came out, and I quote the Mary Mayhew, the Florida Agency for Health-Care Administration: [Indiscernible] doors to keep that virus from getting to our facilities. Our staff are human beings who have lives outside of these facilities. Nursing home operator in Florida: The overwhelming majority of our staff members were testing positive or asymptomatic. An indigenous virus is very difficult to detect after the testing. So it happened in other states. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chain Pharmacies

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

Network Administrators

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