“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….”
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.
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.
Here’s what a functioning, responsive government looks like. This is detail on the Biden administration’s multi-agency effort to support renters and landlords from the White House:
Today’s action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to extend the federal eviction moratorium represents the latest effort to provide relief to renters and landlords.
Following today’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a 90-day extension of the federal eviction moratorium, the Biden-Harris Administration is continuing its efforts to support tenants and landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal agencies including the Treasury Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are coordinating efforts to get tenants and landlords the assistance they need during the public health crisis.
President Biden entered office facing twin crises of historic proportions: a global pandemic and an economic downturn that left 10 million people out of work and one in five renters behind on rent. On January 29th, just days after President Biden entered office, the CDC extended the existing eviction moratorium through the end of March, recognizing the historic threat to our nation’s health. Alongside the extension, the Administration continued to seek relief for struggling Americans. $25 billion had been allocated to rental assistance under the CARES Act, and the Biden-Harris Administration worked quickly to streamline and simplify the rules to access funding. The American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Biden, will deliver an additional $21.5 billion in emergency rental assistance to help millions of families keep up on rent and remain in their homes.
President Biden remains committed to implementing a whole-of-government approach to addressing the nation’s housing challenges. The White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator is working across agencies and with White House offices to implement the American Rescue Plan’s housing provisions. And, Treasury, HUD, USDA, CFPB and the FTC are upholding that commitment through the following actions to maximize the impact of the extension and additional funding in the American Rescue Plan:
The Treasury Department is in the process of delivering $1,400 Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to approximately 85% of American households, including those who may be behind on rent or at threat of eviction. More than 100 million EIPs have already been delivered.
The Treasury Department continues to administer the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the passage of the ARP, an additional $21.5 billion is available, almost doubling in size the scale and reach of this program and providing greater relief to our most vulnerable households.
Rental assistance is being distributed by the Treasury Department to state and local grantees. Renters and landlords seeking access to rental assistance should apply directly to the local program in their area. More information on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, including eligibility requirements, can be found here.
The Treasury Department recently updated guidance on the ERAP, providing grantees greater flexibility in determining renter eligibility.
The Treasury Department is administering funding to cover costs borne by state and local governments that have stepped in during the crisis to provide housing assistance and relief to Americans across the country. These critical measures taken to blunt the impacts of the economic fallout from the pandemic will no longer be a strain on the balance sheets of American municipalities.
HUD will reach out to HUD grantees, including tens of thousands of local governments and housing providers, and other program participants to communicate about the eviction moratorium extension and will offer guidance and support where needed.
HUD will continue to coordinate across federal agencies to efficiently implement emergency rental assistance programs that prevent evictions and ensure financial stability of renters and rental properties (including programs from HUD, Treasury, and HHS’s Administration for Children and Families).
HUD will continue to support CDC in developing strategies for monitoring and evaluating the impacts of the eviction moratorium.
HUD will continue its responsibilities in upholding the Fair Housing Act and will monitor and address circumstances where landlords are evicting tenants because of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), disability, familial status, or national origin. If tenants feel like they have experienced discriminatory treatment, they can contact HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Relay). Tenants can also file discrimination complaints online at hud.gov/fairhousing.
USDA will send a notice to 7,000 property owners in its multifamily portfolio to inform them of their obligations under the extended CDC Eviction Moratorium. USDA will also require property owners to post the extension at their properties along with a template of the original moratorium letters. These actions follow USDA’s outreach to 400,000 tenants to share information on the protections provided under the CDC Eviction Moratorium as well as information on how to access the U.S Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
The CFPB is taking complaints from tenants about problems with debt collectors, including attorneys seeking to evict tenants in violation of the CDC eviction moratorium. Consumers can submit a complaint at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ or by calling (855) 411-2372
The CFPB will monitor and investigate eviction practices to ensure that companies are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate the law.
The FTC will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices to ensure that companies are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate the law.
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.
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:
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.
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.
The Biden-Harris Administration has launched a comprehensive, whole-of-government effort to get more people vaccinated—by increasing vaccine supply, increasing vaccinators, and increasing the number of places to get vaccinated. As part of this strategy, the Administration is supporting and launching federally-supported community vaccination centers nationwide in places people know and trust: community centers, schools, and stadiums. These community vaccination centers help achieve the President’s goal of administering 100 million shots in 100 days and getting vaccines to Americans more rapidly and more equitably. On his first day in office, the President set a goal of launching or supporting 100 community vaccination centers in his first month. President Biden announced that since January 20, the federal government has provided critical support in the form of personnel, funding, and/or equipment to help establish or expand 441 community vaccination centers nationwide.
The government has reported that 50 million vaccinations have been administered in the first 38 days since Biden entered office, suggesting he will reach his goal of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days much earlier.
60% of people over 75 received at least one shot
50% over 65 have received one shot
75% of people in long term care facilities received at least one shot.
Meanwhile, a third vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, is about to be authorized for use. This is a one-shot dose that does not need special handling, and will supplement the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
On February 24, Jeff Zients, COVID-19 Response Coordinator, announced the fifth consecutive week of supply increases to states, tribes, and territories, from 8.6 million doses when Biden took office to 14.5 million doses this week. That’s an increase in vaccine allocations to states of nearly 70 percent during the Biden-Harris administration.
The Retail Pharmacy Program launched a few weeks ago and this week, will see an increase in allocation to pharmacies to 2.1 million doses.
So, with 14.5 million doses allocated to states, tribes, and territories and 2.1 million through the federal Retail Pharmacy Program, the weekly supply of doses has been nearly doubled in just five weeks.
Second, the Biden Administration is mobilizing teams to get shots in arms, deploying over 800 federal personnel as vaccinators, funding 1,200 National Guard members to serve as vaccinators, and deploying 1,000 federal personnel to support community vaccination sites in operational and support roles.
Third, the Biden Administration continues to create more places where Americans can get vaccinated, expanding financial support to bolster community vaccination centers nationwide, with over $3.6 billion in FEMA funding to 44 states, tribes, and territories for vaccination efforts. “We’re bringing vaccinations to places communities know and trust: community centers, high school gyms, churches, and stadiums nationwide.”
The administration continues to work with states to set up innovative, high-volume, federally run sites that can each give over 30,000 shots a week. These sites are up and running in California and are ramping up in Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
Federal programs have been launched to get vaccines to pharmacies and local community health centers.
“As we’ve always said, we’re committed to providing clarity on our progress, and that includes when we hit bumps in the road. Last week, we got hit with the very severe weather, which impacted the vaccination supply chain — from manufacturing, to shipping, to the ability to get shots in arms. The manufacturers, the shipping firms, the states, the tribes, the territories, and pharmacies worked to overcome these challenges.
“And despite all the temporary weather-related delays, our seven-day average daily doses administered is at 1.4 million. And we’ve already caught up on the weather-related shipping backlog.
Teams worked throughout last weekend to pack and ship doses. On Monday, yesterday, 7 million doses — two days ago — 7 million doses were delivered. That, coupled with the 14.5 million doses allocated this week, results in record supply going to the states. We’ve encouraged states to get needles into arms by extending vaccine clinic hours, offering services 24 hours a day where possible, adding weekend appointments, and having more staff on hand.
“On this point, I want to stress that if states do not have the staff to work around the clock and on the weekends, the federal government stands ready to help.”
As soon as an Emergency Use Authorization is issued for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Zients said the government anticipates allocating 3 to 4 million doses next week. Johnson & Johnson has announced it aims to deliver a total of 20 million doses by the end of March. “We’re working with the company to accelerate the pace and timeframe by which they deliver the full 100 million doses, which is required by contract by the end of June….We will waste no time getting this lifesaving vaccine into the arms of Americans.”
FACT SHEET: 441 Federally-Supported Community Vaccination Centers in First Month of Biden-Harris Administration
Since January 20, the Biden-Harris Administration has supported the establishment or expansion of 441 community vaccination centers across 37 states, territories, and the District of Columbia.
As of this week:
171 sites are being supported by federal personnel: The Biden-Harris Administration has deployed 2,225 personnel nationwide to support vaccination operations, including expert logisticians, vaccinators and non-medical operational staff serving as greeters, clerks and other critical support roles. Personnel are assigned from agencies across the federal government, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); U.S. Department of the Interior (DoI); U.S. Department of Defense (DoD); U.S. Coast Guard (USCG); U.S. Forest Service (USFS); Veterans Affairs (VA); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
312 sites are being supported by federally-funded National Guard members under Title 32 orders: This means more people to deliver vaccinations, handle logistics, and coordinate the pandemic response. In total, the Administration is supporting 1,200 National Guard vaccinators across 43 states and territories.
177 sites have received federal funding: At the President’s direction, FEMA is reimbursing 100% of costs for vaccination operations. This funding covers critical supplies, staffing, training, and transportation needs that support increased vaccination distribution and administration. The funding flows to states, localities, Tribes, territories, and eligible non-profits.
62 sites have received federal equipment: From folding chairs to sharps containers to dry ice, the federal government has provided a range of equipment to meet state, local, Tribal, and territorial needs and help establish or expand sites.
Federal Pilot Community Vaccination Centers Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration has announced 18 federally-established community vaccination centers, with the ability to administer a total of 61,000 shots per day at full capacity. For these sites, the federal government is directly working with state and local partners from start to finish, to help select the location for, staff, and operate these sites.
The Biden-Harris Administration is placing equity at the core of the federal government’s strategy to defeat the pandemic. FEMA has partnered with CDC and state and local partners to locate vaccination centers in places that aim to reach hard-hit, high-risk communities, deploying CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index and similar state and local measures. Ensuring access is a priority in the design of the Federal Pilot community vaccination centers, with some featuring weekend and extended daytime hours, reserved slots for registration through faith-based and community-based organizations, and deployment alongside mobile vaccination units to help vaccinate surrounding communities. Two sites opened in California on February 16, administering over 90,000 shots since opening, with additional vaccinations from the four mobile clinics based out of these locations and bringing vaccines directly to surrounding communities. Five other Federal Pilot sites opened this week, with three in Texas and two in New York. Additional sites announced in Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and North Carolina are launching in the coming weeks, with more to be announced.
Launched Federal Pilot Community Vaccination Centers:
Oakland Coliseum – Oakland, CA: FEMA partnered with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) to open the site on February 16, with the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 individuals a day. At the time of launch, 231 federal personnel were deployed to support site vaccinations and operations, including 125 from FEMA, 85 from USFS, and 21 from NDMS. The Coliseum is adjacent to the communities of Eastmont and Elmhurst, which have some of the lowest health scores in the state. The site operates 7 days a week with drive-through and pedestrian options. Appointments were reserved for faith and community-based organizations to register their communities.
California State University, Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA: FEMA partnered with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) to open the site on February 16, with the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 individuals a day. At the time of launch, 256 personnel were deployed to support site vaccinations and operations, including 222 from DoD, 30 from FEMA, and four from USFS. The institution is one of the most diverse public universities in the country, serving a large Latinx community. The site operates 7 days a week with drive-through and pedestrian options. Appointments were reserved for faith and community-based organizations to register their communities.
NRG Stadium – Houston, TX: FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management opened this site on February 24, with the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 individuals a day. The 11-lane drive-through site operates 7 days a week, and the state is conducting targeted outreach to provide registration support. Harris County is highly diverse, home to the nation’s second-largest Hispanic and Latinx population of any U.S. county.
Fair Park – Dallas, TX: FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management opened the site on February 24, with the capacity to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day. The 12-lane drive-through site operates 7 days a week, and the state is conducting targeted outreach to provide registration support. Dallas County is highly diverse, with nearly two-thirds of its population Hispanic and/or Black.
Globe Life Field – Arlington, TX: FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management will open the site on February 26, with the capacity to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day. The site operates 7 days a week with drive-through and pedestrian options, and the state is conducting targeted outreach to provide registration support.
Medgar Evers College – Brooklyn, NY: FEMA and New York State opened the site on February 24, with the capacity to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day. The site is located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. For the first week of scheduling, appointments were reserved specifically for eligible residents living in areas with low vaccination rates, before opening to all eligible borough residents. The state is additionally partnering with faith leaders to encourage sign-up, and the MTA is launching a pilot program to enhance bus service to connect New Yorkers to the vaccination site.
York College – Queens, NY: New York State and FEMA opened the site on February 23, with the capacity to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day. The site is located in Jamaica, Queens. For the first week of scheduling, appointments were initially reserved for eligible residents living in areas with low vaccination rates, before opening to all eligible borough residents. The state is additionally partnering with faith leaders to encourage sign-up, and the MTA is launching a pilot program to enhance bus service to connect New Yorkers to the vaccination site.
Announced Federal Pilot Community Vaccination Centers, opening soon:
Miami-Dade Community College (North Campus) – Miami, FL: With state partners, FEMA will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day.
Tampa Greyhound Track – Tampa, FL: With state partners, FEMA will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day.
Valencia College West Campus – Orlando, FL: With state partners, FEMA will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day.
Gateway Mall – Jacksonville, FL: With state partners, FEMA will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 3,000 individuals a day.
New York National Guard Armory – Yonkers, NY: FEMA and the State of New York will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 1,000 individuals a day and will operate with extended hours to better reach local residents.
Former Kodak Hawkeye Lot – Rochester, NY: FEMA and the State of New York will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 1,000 individuals a day and will operate with extended hours to better reach local residents.
Delavan Grider Community Center – Buffalo, NY: FEMA and the State of New York will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 1,000 individuals a day and will operate with extended hours to better reach local residents.
Washington Avenue Armory – Albany, NY: FEMA and the State of New York will open the site on March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 1,000 individuals a day and will operate with extended hours to better reach local residents.
Pennsylvania Convention Center – Philadelphia, PA: With state partners, FEMA will open this site as early as March 3. The site is expected to vaccinate 6,000 individuals a day.
United Center – Chicago, IL: With state partners, FEMA will open this site on March 10. The site is expected to vaccinated 6,000 individuals a day.
Four Seasons Center – Greensboro, NC: With state partners, FEMA will open this site on March 10. The site is expected to vaccinated 3,000 individuals a day.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
America’s hotel industry is offering to provide up to 50,000 sites to assist in the rapid administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, in partnership with public health departments.
In a letter to the Biden Transition Team, Chip Rogers, President and CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association, writes, “America’s hotels stand ready to work alongside America’s governors as states continue to move forward in administrating the COVID-19 vaccine. By quickly mobilizing an existing network of sites, hotels can help strengthen the delivery and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in communities across the country to better streamline and build on current state efforts.”
The AHLA has a “Hospitality for Hope” initiative which has infrastructure in place to support public health agencies and private sector partners through a network of 20,000 hotels that could be used as locations to administer the vaccine.
In the letter, which is also sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chair, National Governors Association; Governor Asa Hutchinson, Vice Chair National Governors Association; Moncef Slaoui, Operation Warp Speed; Dr. Robert R. Redfield, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Alex Azar, Secretary of Health & Human Services; and the US Conference of Mayors, he writes:
“As you know, administering the vaccine on a national level will be a significant undertaking requiring innovative solutions and collaboration. To aide in the distribution, the hotel industry is asking that hotels be considered as an option for vaccine administration sites in partnership with public health departments.
“Hotels have existing infrastructure and operational capabilities to serve as vaccine administration sites and capacity to assist. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) under its “Hospitality for Hope” initiative has the infrastructure in place to support public health agencies and private sector partners through a network of more than 20,000 hotels which could be quickly ready serve as locations to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Through this program, the hotel industry has already successfully partnered with federal and local governments to provide assistance to those in need, including frontline and emergency workers as well as state and municipal public health departments.
“The hotel industry is ready to step in and assist our community and alleviate the current burdens on our health systems in a time of national need and has the following capabilities:
Geographic reach: With more than 50,000 hotels in every state, including properties located in cities, suburbs, and rural communities, hotels have the geographic reach to support a wide distribution of the vaccine.
Available Capacity and Operate 24/7: Hotels have private rooms, meeting rooms, conference and ball rooms as well as outside areas, hotels are equipped for 24-hour operations to allow for round-the-clock vaccination administration. This will also ensure there is adequate space to maintain physical distancing, capacity limits and other safety protocols. Further, as hotels are currently running at less than 50 percent occupancy rates, families or individuals who might be traveling to receive the vaccine will have access to comfortable and flexible lodging options should they need
Comprehensive cleanliness protocols: The industry has also adopted AHLA’s Safe Stay, an enhanced cleaning initiative that builds on the hotel industry’s long-standing commitment and operations procedures to ensure the safety of guests during the ongoing public health crisis.
Infrastructure: Hotels also offer ample parking and are often accessible from major transportation networks, including highways and public transportation routes. Hotels also have outdoor capabilities that can provide safe, weather-proof vaccination services where parking lots could be utilized for vaccination administration, similar to drive-thru testing sites.
Refrigeration Capabilities: With many hotels being temperature controlled and the majority of hotels having refrigeration capabilities to store vaccines, issues concerning vaccine storage will be limited or can be quickly addressed to meet the requirements necessary for safe and effective vaccine storage.
“Since the start of the pandemic, our industry has been on the frontlines to support national public health and safety priorities. AHLA launched the “Hospitality for Hope” initiative in early 2020, identifying more than 20,000 hotels willing to provide temporary housing for emergency and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The initiative identified a total combined 2.3 million rooms located in close proximity to established healthcare facilities for frontline workers to use as they worked around the clock to save lives and provide lodging for those exposed to COVID to quarantine safely. Additionally, as part of this effort, hotels are supporting the national guard by providing lodging to those who Washington D.C. and surrounding region to provide additional security around the inauguration.
“With the next phases of vaccination distribution underway, hotels have the unique capability to help provide additional locations to assist with the administration of the vaccine. As an industry, we have always stepped up to help our neighbors and communities in a time of need, including early-on in the pandemic through Hospitality for Hope. The industry looks forward to continuing this work in partnership with the public and private sector to support this next phase of recovery.”
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.