Tag Archives: coronavirus pandemic

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)

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response
and Pandemic Preparedness

January 21, 2021

Executive Summary


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

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

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

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

Goal 1: Restore trust with the American people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our plan is as clear as it is bold:

“Get more people vaccinated for free.

“Create more places for them to get vaccinated.

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

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

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

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

Biden continued
:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s Biden’s plan:

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

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

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

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

Get more people vaccinated

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

Create more vaccination sites

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

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

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

Mobilize more personnel to get shots in arms. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good evening, my fellow Americans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is happening today in the United States of America. 

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

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

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

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

Some 18 million Americans are still relying on unemployment insurance. 

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

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

A crisis of deep human suffering in plain sight.

And there is no time to wait.

We have to act and act now.

This is what the economists are telling us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The very health of our nation is at stake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will also tackle the growing hunger crisis in America.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s 5 million children lifted out of poverty. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can do these bold, practical things now. 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

We cannot let people get evicted.

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

We must act now and decisively.

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

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

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

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

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

The sooner we can rescue and rebuild our economy.

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

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

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

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

We will not give up.  

We will come back together.

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

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

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

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

Come Wednesday, we begin a new chapter.

May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops.

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

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

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

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

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

Click Here to Determine Eligibility and Schedule Appointments with Administrating Providers

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

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

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

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

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

Individuals Age 75 and older

First Responders and Support Staff of First Responder Agencies

Fire Service

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

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

Police and Investigators

State Police, including Troopers

State Park Police, DEC Police, Forest Rangers

SUNY Police

Sheriffs’ Offices

County Police Departments and Police Districts

City, Town, and Village Police Departments

Transit of other Public Authority Police Departments

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

Public Safety Communications

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

Other Sworn and Civilian Personnel

Court Officers

Other Police or Peace Officers

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

Corrections

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

Local Correctional Facilities, including correction officers

Local Probation Departments, including probation officers

State Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities

Local Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Facilities

P-12 Schools

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

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

In-Person College Instructors

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

Licensed, Registered, Approved or Legally Exempt Childcare Providers

In-Person College Instructors 

Public-Facing Grocery Store Workers

Public Transit

Airline and airport employees

Passenger railroad employees

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

Ferry employees

Port Authority employees

Public bus employee

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

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

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

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

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

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (NYC)

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

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

Additional sites will be launched in the days to come.

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

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

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

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Expands Vaccine Distribution Network

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

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

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

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

870,000 Education workers

207,000 first responders

100,000 public safety workers

100,000 public transit workers

1.4 million people 75 and older

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

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

Prioritization

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

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

Staffing

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

Licensed Practical Nurses

Pharmacists

Pharmacy Technicians

Midwives

Dentists

Certain Dental Hygienists

Podiatrists

Emergency Medical Technicians

Certain Eligible Students

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

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

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

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

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

Check if you are eligible to receive the vaccine here

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

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

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