FDA Authorizes Roche and Siemens At-Home Tests, Which Went Through New Biden Administration Accelerated Review Program; Will Bring Tens of Millions of New Tests Per Month to the U.S.
Tests Authorized in Just Two Months Since Joint FDA-NIH Program Accelerating Test Developers Through Regulatory Process Was Announced
The Biden-Harris Administration has brought two new over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests to the U.S. market. The tests, one manufactured by SD Biosensor and distributed by Roche and the other manufactured by Siemens, have received emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after being evaluated through the Administration’s new accelerated pathway to support FDA review of tests with potential for large-scale manufacturing that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced just two months ago.
These quick authorizations are thanks to collaboration between the FDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Technology (RADx) program. Combined, it is estimated the companies can produce tens of millions of tests per month for use in the U.S.
“Increasing Americans’ access to easy-to-use, reliable COVID tests is a top priority for the Biden Administration, and we are using all resources at our disposal to make more tests available and ramp up supply,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Adding two new authorized tests will give Americans more options for testing at home, which helps keep people safe and provides peace of mind.”
In late October, HHS announced the Administration would invest $70 million from the American Rescue Plan to help bring more high-quality, at-home tests onto the market in the U.S. in coordination with FDA. This new Independent Test Assessment Program (ITAP) is helping identify manufacturers of high-quality tests and encouraging them to bring those tests to the U.S. market, increasing options for people and overall supply and potentially lowering costs.
In this new program, NIH’s RADx Tech network of experts from government, academia, and industry work together with FDA, CDC and other HHS specialists to assess and conduct studies on over-the-counter tests. This coordinated effort allows companies to compile proper data, work towards the right benchmarks for performance, and support other needs that will help ensure they are providing the best submissions possible for FDA’s regulatory review. The goal is to accelerate the availability of more high-quality, accurate and reliable over-the-counter tests to the public as quickly as possible. The tests by Roche and Siemens are the first to gain FDA authorization through this program.
“This program is incredibly beneficial to increasing access to rapid tests by quickly and consistently gathering the critical data companies need to request EUA and subsequently enter the U.S. market once authorized,” said Jeff Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Knowing these tests have been independently assessed by NIH allows the FDA to act quickly on well-performed studies and trustworthy data that will lead to the availability of additional accurate and reliable tests at this critical time.”
“By rapidly conducting the precise studies recommended by the FDA, this program is shaving weeks to months off the typical EUA timeline,” said Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., director of the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and RADx program lead.
This is part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to increasing access to COVID-19 testing. Last week, President Biden announced new actions to ensure Americans have access to free testing, including convenient, at-home tests. He committed to purchase half a billion at-home tests to be provided to Americans for free this winter, starting in January, and to stand up new federal testing sites across the country. Additionally, there are now 20,000 free testing sites across the U.S., four times as many at-home tests available to Americans than were available this summer, and free at-home tests are already being made available at key community sites, such as community health centers and rural clinics.
DoD Awards $136.7 Million Contract to MilliporeSigma to Establish Domestic Production Capacity of Critical Material Used in COVID-19 Point-of-Care Tests
Also, on Dec. 29, 2021, the Department of Defense (DoD), on behalf of and in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded a $136.7 million contract to MilliporeSigma to establish nitrocellulose membrane production capacity in the United States.
Nitrocellulose membrane is a critical material used in manufacturing SARS-CoV-2 rapid point-of-care tests. This industrial base expansion effort will allow MilliporeSigma to establish a nitrocellulose manufacturing capability in its Sheboygan, Wisconsin facility to support more than 83.3 million tests per month for COVID-19 testing and future needs.
The DoD’s Defense Assisted Acquisition Cell (DA2) led this effort in coordination with the Department of the Air Force’s Acquisition COVID-19 Task Force (DAF ACT). This effort was funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support domestic industrial base expansion for critical medical resources.
New Actions Aim to Get Americans Boosted for Even Greater Protection Against Delta, Omicron Variants, Keep Schools and Businesses Open, Help Quickly Respond to Surges if Needed During the Colder Months
I know that Americans are exhausted from COVID-19 and want to know when it will end, and the new variant is adding to that unease. I get it.
I pledged to always be straight with the American people and tell you the truth. Here’s the truth about the new omicron variant: While it is a cause for concern, it is not a cause for panic. Experts say that COVID-19 cases will continue to rise in the weeks ahead this winter, and that we will see more omicron cases here in the United States in the days, weeks and months ahead. Our best scientists and doctors are on the case and gathering data, but early indications are that our vaccines will provide a measure of protection against this strain. We have the tools to protect ourselves and battle this virus, and I’m laying out a plan to do just that this winter.
We are going to fight COVID-19 not with shutdowns or lockdowns – but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more. We will beat it back with science and speed, not chaos and confusion – just as we did in the spring and again with the more powerful delta variant in the summer and fall.
There are six key actions in my plan for this winter.
Boosters, testing at the forefront
►All adults should get a booster shot six months after they got vaccinated (or two months after, if you were vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson). Right now, most adults in this country who are eligible for boosters still have not gotten their booster shot. We are expanding our nationwide booster campaign with more appointments, more hours – including nights and weekends – and more walk-ins. To spread the word, pharmacies will send millions of texts and emails to remind their customers. My administration will also contact the more than 60 million people on Medicare. And, to reach their 38 million members, we’ll join town halls and events hosted by AARP, which is also offering seniors free rides to boosters.
►We are expanding our efforts to vaccinate children ages 5 and up and keep our schools open. To replace the mass vaccination sites for adults we had earlier in the year with a more comfortable setting for families and children, we will launch hundreds of new family vaccination clinics to make it easier for children, parents and whole families to get vaccinated in one place. These sites will be at community health centers and other trusted locations – and even some mobile sites to reach hard to reach communities.
Today, over 99% of schools are open, and we need to make sure we keep it that way this winter. While vaccinating our kids is critical to keeping our schools open, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also reviewing new approaches to keep our children in school instead of quarantining at home.
►We are making free at-home tests available. Thanks to our actions, there are now at least eight at-home testing options available. Prices for these tests are decreasing. But it’s not enough. My administration is requiring that health insurers cover the cost of at-home testing. If you are one of the 150 million Americans on private health insurance, at-home tests will be covered by your insurance. And, if you’re not covered by private insurance, we will make free tests available for pickup at thousands of sites nationwide.
Medical initiatives part of plan, too
►We will increase “Surge Response Teams” – the doctors, nurses, and medical staff that go into communities with rising cases and help overburdened hospitals. Since summer, we have worked with Republican and Democratic governors to deploy Surge Response Teams in response to the delta variant. These teams worked in communities struggling with surges, and we’ll more than double the number of teams this winter.
►We are increasing the availability of new medicines, including monoclonal antibody treatments that have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization. We also may soon have promising new antiviral pills that could help prevent hospitalization and death of people infected by COVID-19. If approved, we will ensure that these new medicines are available in the hardest-hit communities.
►In order to beat this pandemic at home, we have to beat this pandemic globally. COVID-19 and the delta and omicron variants have all emerged in other parts of the world before coming here. We must vaccinate the world and strengthen international travel rules for people coming into the U.S. We have already shipped for free 280 million vaccines – more vaccines to other countries than all other countries combined. We will accelerate the delivery of more vaccines – 200 million more doses in the next 100 days. And, all international travelers entering the U.S. must test within one day of departure. This tighter testing timeline will help slow the spread of the virus.
We’ve been doing everything we can to beat this virus. And, that’s what we have to keep doing. We can and we must come together as a nation to fight this virus, to protect one another, to protect our economic recovery. We moved forward in the face of COVID-19 and the delta variant. And, we will move forward now at the start of winter and in the face of the omicron variant – together.
The White House provided this fact sheet about new actions announced by President Biden to combat COVID-19 as the United States heads into the winter months and with the emergence of a new variant, Omicron:
The United States has come far in its fight against the virus and is more prepared than ever to deal with the challenges of COVID-19. We have the public health tools we need to continue to fight this virus without shutting down our schools and businesses. As we head into winter, President Biden announced actions to provide additional protection to Americans and fight the Omicron and Delta variants, while keeping our economy growing.
This plan includes:
Boosters for All Adults
Vaccinations to Protect Our Kids and Keep Our Schools Open
Expanding Free At-Home Testing for Americans
Stronger Public Health Protocols for Safe International Travel
Protections in Workplaces to Keep Our Economy Open
Rapid Response Teams to Help Battle Rising Cases
Supplying Treatment Pills to Help Prevent Hospitalizations and Death
Continued Commitment to Global Vaccination Efforts
Steps to Ensure We Are Prepared for All Scenarios
Last week, after the World Health Organization (WHO) named the Omicron variant as a Variant of Concern, the President took immediate steps to restrict travel from the most impacted countries in order to give the U.S. time to learn more about the variant and prepare. We have more tools today to fight the Omicron variant than we have had to fight previous variants, including Delta. Nearly 60 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, booster shots are authorized for all adults, and a vaccine is authorized for kids aged 5 and older. The U.S. is leading the world in vaccinating children, and millions of Americans have already gotten their boosters. And, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing additional antiviral treatments for when people do get sick.
Today’s actions will ensure we are using these tools as effectively as possible to protect the American people against this variant and to continue to battle the Delta variant during the winter months when viruses tend to thrive. These actions will help keep our economy growing and keep Americans safe from severe COVID-19.
Today, President Biden will announce the following actions:
Boosters for All Adults: President Biden will announce new steps to ensure that the nearly 100 million eligible Americans who have not yet gotten their booster shot, get one as soon as possible. As we face the Omicron variant, boosters are more important than ever. Boosters increase the strength of your antibody response, so when the virus mutates, a booster makes it more likely that your antibodies can protect you against the new variant. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance recommending that every adult get a booster. All adults who completed a primary vaccination series with an mRNA vaccine at least six months ago and those who received a Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago are eligible for a booster. The Biden Administration has made booster shots free and convenient at over 80,000 locations nationwide. To date, over 41 million Americans have already received a booster shot, including half of eligible seniors. The President will announce additional steps to help in this effort.
Expanding pharmacy availability through December and reaching out to all eligible customers to get their booster: As demand for boosters increases, the largest federal pharmacy partners will be ready to help meet that demand. Pharmacy partners are launching broad-based outreach campaigns to encourage the public to get their boosters, and are sending millions of texts, calls, and emails to eligible customers with information on how to schedule an appointment or walk-in for their booster shot. In addition, pharmacy partners will continue to offer call center services to support members of the public who need assistance, including in multiple languages. The President will also announce that the pharmacy program will continue to take steps to expand availability, so that adults can continue to receive their booster shots at trusted, convenient pharmacies near them. Nationwide, more than two in three COVID-19 vaccinations are already happening at local pharmacies. Federal pharmacy partners will continue to expand access by adding capacity across their network to meet the needs of their local communities. They will also work to ensure equitable access to boosters by offering vaccinations at convenient hours, including evenings and over weekends, so that adults can get boosted at a time that works best for them.
Launching a new public education campaign to encourage adults to get boosters, with a special focus on seniors: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will launch a new public education campaign to ensure every adult American is getting their booster as soon as they are eligible. This effort will put a special focus on seniors who are the most vulnerable, including seniors from communities of color and seniors from underserved communities. The campaign will feature paid advertising across multiple channels, engagement with community organizations, robust stakeholder outreach, and earned media campaigns.
Collaborating with AARP on an education campaign focused on getting seniors boosted: AARP has been engaged in a robust education effort around COVID-19 and primary vaccinations throughout the pandemic. As we shift toward getting more seniors boosted, AARP will build on these efforts, and in collaboration with the Administration, will serve seniors through:
Town Halls: The Administration will participate in AARP-sponsored tele-town halls to reach thousands of seniors over the coming months and educate older Americans about the importance of boosters.
Rides to Booster Shots: AARP has committed to delivering rides through volunteers and partnerships with other organizations to help seniors get boosted at local pharmacies, clinics, events, churches, or other trusted locations.
Events and Call Center: AARP and the Administration will participate in local events and media opportunities across the country in the weeks ahead. In addition, the Administration has provided new training to help CDC’s National COVID-19 Vaccine Assistance hotline answer AARP members’ and all seniors’ questions about boosters or find an appointment at 1-800-232-0233.
Targeting outreach to Medicare beneficiaries: As part of a comprehensive plan to get older adults the extra protection they need through a booster, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is launching an education and outreach initiative to get Medicare beneficiaries boosted. This will include sending a notice from the CMS Administrator to all Medicare beneficiaries encouraging them to get boosted and providing information about how to easily access a booster shot in their community. Approximately 63 million people are enrolled in Medicare, and this is the first time in more than 4 years that Medicare has sent all Medicare beneficiaries a notice of this kind. CMS will also send emails, add messages to the 1-800-MEDICARE call center and incorporate messaging into advertising campaigns highly targeted to high-risk audiences with lower booster uptake.
Calling on employers to follow the federal government’s lead and provide paid time off to their employees to get boosted: All federal employees currently receive paid time off to get booster shots. The President will call on employers throughout the country to remove a barrier to vaccination access by providing the same paid time off for their employees if they are not doing so already, including paid time off for family members getting their first, second, or booster shots. No one should have to choose between their pay check and getting the additional protection of a booster shot or a child vaccination. Currently, about one-third of workers report not receiving paid time off for vaccinations, and thirty-five percent of parents report being concerned about having to take time off work to get their child vaccinated or care for them if they experience side effects. Over the course of our pandemic response, these concerns have been even more pressing in our underserved communities; earlier this year, 64 percent of unvaccinated Hispanic/Latino adults and 55 percent of unvaccinated Black adults reported concern about missing work to get vaccinated.
Vaccinations to Protect Our Kids and Keep Our Schools Open: The President will announce new actions to get more kids ages 5 and older vaccinated and to keep our schools open. When the President came into office, more than half the schools in our country were closed. Today, 99 percent of schools across the country are fully open and in person. The steps the President is announcing today will ensure that remains the case. As we face the Omicron variant, we now have an important new tool: vaccines for kids ages 5-11. The U.S. leads the world in vaccinating children in this age group. To date, we have already vaccinated over 4 million 5- to 11-year-olds and 15 million adolescents. Vaccinating our kids protects them, keeps schools open, and protects everyone around them. The Biden Administration has made it easy for parents to get their kids vaccinated with over 35,000 sites that parents know and trust, including pharmacies, pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals and school-based clinics. The President will announce new actions to get kids vaccinated and ensure that schools stay open.
Launching hundreds of family vaccination clinics to get the whole family vaccinated or boosted in one trusted and convenient location: The President will announce a new effort to launch hundreds of family vaccination clinics across the country. Together, these clinics will offer vaccinations for the whole family – with first shots for parents, teens, and kids, and boosters for those eligible. This model builds on the Administration’s ongoing efforts – in coordination with states, localities, providers and community leaders – to meet people where they are and make vaccinations accessible and convenient in communities across the country. HRSA will launch Family Vaccination Days – with hundreds of community health centers across the country hosting family vaccination clinics throughout December. Over two in three shots at community health centers are administered to people of color. FEMA will launch Family Mobile Vaccination Clinics, deploying sites, staff, and support to states across the country that need help – beginning with its first deployments to Washington and New Mexico. States and localities will pioneer this model nationwide – with full federal funding and support, and receive a new playbook to provide all partners with the information they need to stand up these sites and increase equitable access to vaccination. And, at thousands of pharmacies nationwide, federal pharmacy partners – including CVS and Rite Aid – will make available family-based scheduling over the coming months so that parents have a one-stop-shop to get their family their vaccination appointments all at once.
Requiring Medicaid to pay health care providers to talk to families about getting their kids vaccinated: Increasing COVID-19 vaccinations and centering equity in COVID-19 vaccinations requires meeting our hardest-hit and highest-risk communities where they are with information from trusted sources. To help parents get their questions answered and make informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination for their children, all Medicaid programs will pay health care providers to talk to parents about the importance of kids’ vaccination. Medicaid will cover COVID-19 vaccine counseling visits for most children and youth up to age 21 with 100% federal funding throughout the public health emergency and the following year. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program provide health insurance coverage to over 40 percent of all children in the United States and are a significant source of coverage for Black and brown children. Today’s action will help expand access to individualized medical advice in all of our communities and give families the support they need to engage with trusted community providers.
Reviewing school COVID-19 prevention policies to avoid closures of entire classrooms or schools when there is a positive case: Thanks to efforts from the Biden Administration, 99 percent of schools are now open for full-time in-person learning – up from 46 percent at the beginning of the Administration. This progress has been crucial to making sure all students can safely be back where they belong – learning alongside their peers – and to help them accelerate through any learning loss they may have experienced in the last year and a half. Schools can stay open safely by implementing layered prevention strategies, and with the tools, guidance, and resources the Administration has provided, schools should not have to close due to COVID-19. To make sure schools can remain safely open:
CDC will release findings on quarantine and testing policies in schools: Today, close contacts who are not fully vaccinated should be referred for COVID-19 testing and quarantine at home for up to 14 days after exposure. While it is crucial to take proper measures to contain spread of the virus following COVID-19 exposure, this period of quarantine can significantly interrupt student’s learning, and make it challenging for parents to work. States and districts around the country have been pioneering alternative approaches to quarantine, including “test to stay” policies – where exposed students remain in school, wear masks, and test repeatedly in the days following exposure to identify and contain infection. CDC has been studying approaches to quarantine and testing, including looking at the science and data of how they may keep school communities safe. CDC will release their findings on these approaches in the coming weeks.
The Administration will issue a new “Safe School Checklist” to give schools a clear game plan for how to get as many of their staff and students vaccinated as possible: The best way to avoid outbreaks in schools is to stop transmission before it happens – and the best tool we have to stop transmission and keep schools open is vaccinating everyone who is eligible. Now, all students ages 5 and up are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Today, the Administration will issue a new “Safe Schools Checklist” to all K-12 schools, detailing a set of actions that every school can take to get their staff and students vaccinated – including hosting school-located vaccination clinics, hosting community-based and family vaccination clinics and events, implementing vaccination requirements for school staff, and getting eligible vaccinated school staff booster shots. The Checklist will also link to resources schools can use to set up these initiatives and talk to families about the importance of vaccination.
Providing every resource to the FDA to support timely review of applications for vaccines for individuals under the age of 5: The President will announce that, as he did for a vaccine for kids ages 5-11, he supports the independent scientific review of a vaccine for those individuals under the age of 5 and will provide the FDA with any needed resources to do this safely and as quickly as possible once data is submitted to the agency.
Expanding Free At-Home Testing for Americans: Today, the President will announce new steps to ensure that Americans has access to free at-home testing. First, the more than 150 million Americans with private insurance – who now are able to get tests covered in physician offices, pharmacies, and clinics with no cost sharing – will also be able to get at-home tests reimbursed by their insurance. Second, for those not covered by private insurance, in addition to more than 20,000 federally-supported free testing sites across the U.S., at-home tests will be distributed through key community sites, such as health centers and rural clinics. The Biden Administration has taken significant steps to increase testing in the country since January. We are on track to quadruple the supply of rapid at-home tests that we had in late-Summer. Today’s actions will help Americans access the tests they need to help them stop the spread of COVID-19 to others.
Providing health plan coverage of no-cost rapid, over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests: To expand access and affordability of at-home COVID-19 tests, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury will issue guidance by January 15th to clarify that individuals who purchase OTC COVID-19 diagnostic tests will be able to seek reimbursement from their group health plan or health insurance issuer and have insurance cover the cost during the public health emergency. Workplace screening would remain consistent with current guidance. Today’s announcement follows the President’s September action directing more than $2 billion to accelerate the production of rapid tests and an additional $1 billion investment in procuring at-home tests. Over the same time period, FDA authorized five additional over-the-counter tests. A total of 8 tests are on the market today; no test was on the market when the President took office.
Expanding community distribution of free at-home tests through neighborhood sites such as health centers and rural clinics: To ensure equitable access to free at-home tests for our uninsured and underserved communities, the President will double the commitment from September to distribute 25 million free tests to community sites to 50 million tests and will add rural clinics to the program. Partnerships with trusted community providers will aid in getting these important testing supplies into the homes of our hardest-hit communities.
Stronger Public Health Protocols for Safe International Travel: Last month, the Administration implemented stronger international travel protocols, including requirements for foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated. The very day the WHO identified the new Omicron variant, the Biden Administration took immediate steps to restrict travel from the countries in the region where it was confirmed to be spreading quickly. The President will announce additional steps to strengthen the safety of international travel as we face this new threat – just as we have faced those that have come before it.
Strengthening global pre-departure testing protocols: Early next week, the United States will tighten pre-departure testing protocols by requiring all inbound international travelers to test within one day of departure globally, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. This tighter testing timeline provides an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant.
Extending the requirement to wear a mask on airplanes, rail travel, and public transportation: The Administration will continue to require masking during international or other public travel – as well as in transportation hubs such as airports or indoor bus terminals – through March 18 as we continue to battle COVID-19 this winter. The Transportation Security Administration will extend its implementing orders to maintain these requirements through March 18. Fines will continue to be doubled from their initial levels for noncompliance with the masking requirements – with a minimum fine of $500 and fines of up to $3,000 for repeat offenders.
Protecting Workplaces to Keep Businesses Open: Today, the President will announce additional progress we’re making in protecting workers and keeping our economy growing and businesses open. Since President Biden took office, the economy has added 5.6 million jobs, new unemployment claims have fallen by 70 percent, and applications for new businesses have risen 30 percent above the pre-pandemic average. To protect this progress and to ensure workers stay safe and on the job, we have to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our workplaces and places of businesses. Vaccination requirements do just that. The President is calling on businesses to continue to take steps to ensure workers are protected as we head into the winter.
Calling on businesses to move forward with vaccination or testing programs: The President will call on businesses to move forward expeditiously with requiring their workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly. This is especially important given the Omicron variant. No business should shut down this winter because of COVID-19. The Department of Labor has provided a clear roadmap to help businesses keep workers safe and their doors open. Already, 60 percent of businesses report they are moving forward with implementing a program to ensure their workers are either vaccinated or tested on a weekly basis, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than 100 leading public health experts have encouraged businesses to not delay in implementing these protective measures. The President will urge businesses to take steps now to protect workers, customers, and the economy.
Rapid Response Teams to Help Battle Rising Cases: Today, the President will announce new actions to help states battle any potential COVID-19 outbreaks this winter, including of the Omicron variant. As we worked to bring down the Delta surge throughout this summer and fall, we successfully deployed thousands of federal personnel to help 27 states and two territories. These COVID-19 Surge Response Teams mobilized to address critical needs on the ground, including personnel, therapeutics, and technical expertise. To date, we have deployed over 2,000 personnel, including 1,300 clinical providers; surged over 3,200 ventilators, ambulances and other critical supplies; and shipped over 2.3 million courses of lifesaving monoclonal antibody treatments. As we face the potential of a new variant and rising cases during the winter months, today, the President will make clear that federal government will once again be prepared to help.
Making 60+ Winter COVID emergency response team deployments available to states: To ensure states have the help they need as they battle rising cases, the President will announce new emergency response teams that will be available to help supplement state efforts. These teams include:
20+ Department of Defense Medical Response Team deployments to support clinical staffing at strained hospitals.
10 National Disaster Medical System team deployments to provide clinical support at strained hospitals.
20+ monoclonal antibody strike team deployments to support the administration of these lifesaving treatments.
15+ CDC expert deployments to conduct outbreak investigations and provide epidemiological or technical support whenever needed.
Strengthening our national volunteer emergency medical response corps to support communities in need: To help local municipalities strengthen their health preparedness and response, today the President will announce $20 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan to strengthen the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a network of medical and public health volunteers organized locally to improve the health of their communities. This funding will provide additional resources needed to support the roughly 300,000 MRC medical and public health professionals who have already volunteered more than 2 million hours toward local COVID-19 response. HHS will also lead a national effort to mobilize volunteers, including retired doctors and nurses, in areas with rising COVID cases.
Supplying Treatment Pills to Help Prevent Hospitalizations and Death: As we head into winter, new COVID-19 treatments may be on the horizon that could help prevent hospitalization and death. As these treatments continue to be developed and reviewed, today, the President will announce that we are ensuring that if and when any new COVID-19 treatment pills have been found to meet FDA’s scientific standards, they are equitably accessible to all Americans, regardless of their income or their zip code.
Securing enough supply and ensuring pills are widely available in the hardest-hit, highest-risk communities: The Administration is taking steps to secure 13 million doses of antiviral courses to ensure we have ample supply for Americans who need treatment. That number is six times the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations reported throughout this entire year. As more and more treatments may become available in the coming months, the Administration will ensure our underserved communities, often at highest risk from the virus, will be able to conveniently access these potentially lifesaving treatments.
Continued Commitment to Global Vaccination Efforts: Today, the President will reaffirm his commitment to help vaccinate the globe, and call on other countries to do the same to combat this pandemic globally and help prevent the development of new variants.
Donating 1.2 billion doses to the world: To date, the U.S. has committed to donate 1.2 billion doses to the world. For every one shot the Biden Administration has administered in the U.S., we are donating about three doses to people around the world. The U.S. is also the first country to give up its place in line for vaccines, allowing the African Union to immediately start receiving up to 110 million doses of Moderna at a reduced rate negotiated by the United States. And, we are working with partners to expand supply of critical ancillary needs like syringes.
Accelerating the delivery of more vaccines to countries in need by pledging to deliver 200 million more doses in the next 100 days. To build on our donations of over 275 million doses that have been shared with 110 countries, including 94 million doses to Africa, we are pledging to deliver 200 million more doses in the next 100 days – accelerating the delivery of vaccines to countries in need. These doses are being delivered for free with no strings attached. The U.S. is also the first country to negotiate a deal with J&J and the COVAX facility to send vaccines directly to humanitarian settings and conflict zones to vaccinate displaced people.
Taking steps to ramp up manufacturing here and abroad, building out a sustainable supply chain and increasing capacity globally to make vaccines: We are ramping up vaccine manufacturing, building a sustainable supply chain and increasing global capacity to make additional vaccines. We will continue our work to invest in companies that have experience manufacturing mRNA vaccines to help them expand capacity by an additional 1 billion doses per year, with production starting by the second half of 2022.
Turning vaccines into vaccinations: We are working with country partners to get doses into arms with plans tailored to specific country needs. With lines of effort ranging from communications campaigns to build vaccine confidence, to funding for vaccinators on the front line – the U.S. government is committed to getting people vaccinated around the world.
Steps to Ensure We Are Prepared for All Scenarios: Health and medical experts believe that the current vaccines authorized in the U.S. provide at least some protection against the Omicron variant and that boosters strengthen that protection significantly. However, to ensure that we are prepared for all scenarios, the Administration is taking steps now to be able to quickly act if updated vaccinations or boosters are needed to respond to the Omicron variant.
Accelerating the development and deployment of new vaccines and boosters if needed for the Omicron variant: The President is committed to using every resource and tool available to the U.S. government to ensure that we can quickly get updated vaccines and boosters to the American people in the unlikely event they are needed to battle the Omicron variant. The Administration is working closely with executives at Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for other vaccinations or boosters if needed. The President will also use every resource available to help support the FDA and CDC to quickly review new vaccines, if needed, while ensuring that the rigorous safety review process is upheld. The President is also committed to doing the same for any COVID-19 treatment that may be needed for this variant.
Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, and Badoo to create badges displaying vaccination status and offer vaccinated Americans free premium benefits
In support of President Biden’s goal of getting 70 percent of adults at least one shot by July 4, the largest dating apps in America will launch new features to encourage Americans to get vaccinated. These companies join organizations across the country that have answered the President’s call by stepping up and offering incentives and information to help Americans get vaccinated.
Today, dating apps are announcing that they will offer a variety of features such as:
Badges showing vaccination status
Access to free premium content like boosts, super likes, and super swipes for vaccinated people
In-app promotions and links to vaccines.gov or the text code for users
Filters so individuals can see individuals who have been vaccinated
Tinder: Members will be able to add stickers to their profile including “I’m Vaccinated” or “Vaccines Save Lives.” And vaccinated users will have access to free premium content like a “Super Like” to help them stand out among potential matches. Tinder will also launch a “Vaccine Center” with a suite of resources to education and connect users with their nearest vaccination site. Tinder is the world’s biggest non-gaming app.
OkCupid: Daters will be able toadd an “I’m Vaccinated” profile badge and be featured within OkCupid’s “Vaccinated Stacks,” a new matching system that lets users search by vaccination status. Vaccinated people will also receive a free “Boost” to move their profile to the front of a daters’ stack. The campaign will begin on May 24 and will continue to help daters “Match on What Matters.”
Bumble and Badoo will enable all U.S. customers to add a “vaccinated” badge to their profiles. In addition, Bumble and Badoo will give vaccinated users complimentary credits for premium features such as Spotlight and Superswipes across both apps. The apps will also leverage their network of influencers to amplify the need to get vaccinated as part of a push this summer.
BLK will add a new “Vaxified” profile badge for singles to show their support in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. When vaccinated individuals add the badge to their profile, they will receive a free “Boost” on the app to be one of the first profiles seen by potential matches. The features will launch on June 1. BLK is the largest dating app made for Black singles.
Chispa will add a new “Vacunado” profile badge for Latinx singles to show their support for ending the pandemic. Vaccinated individuals who add the badge will get a free “Boost,” making them one of the first profiles to be seen by their matches. The feature will be available starting June 1. Chispa is the largest dating app for Latino singles in English and Spanish.
Hinge: Hinge will encourage users to share their vaccination status on their profile and give vaccinated users a free “Rose,” which is premium content that indicates to other users that they’re especially excited to get to know them. As the dating app “designed to be deleted,” Hinge is focused on helping its community get back out on dates and in safe relationships.
Match: Members will have the option to add a new “Vaccinated” badge to their profile to display their vaccine status, with vaccinated Americans getting access to a free “Boost” to help them stand out on the app.
Plenty of Fish: Members will be able to add an “I Got My Shot” badge to their profiles in early June. Those who participate will receive 20 Live! credits to use on the Plenty of Fish Live! streaming feature. In the spirit of Plenty of Fish’s mission to create low pressure dating experiences, this campaign will provide members with one less question to ask so they can start building meaningful connections.
More than 60% of U.S. adults have gotten at least one vaccine shot. It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated, with more than 80,000 locations with vaccines and 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a vaccine. Find out more about where to get vaccinated by visiting Vaccines.gov or texting their zip code 438829.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to Lift Most Industry Capacity Restrictions Beginning May 19 Given Vaccination Progress and COVID-19 Case Decline
Business Capacity Limits to Be Replaced with Space Available to Maintain Six Feet of Social Distancing on May 19 in New York and New Jersey
Outdoor Social Gathering Limit Increases to 500 on May 10 in New York; Indoor Social Gathering Limit Increases to 250 on May 19 in New York
Outdoor Residential Gathering Limit is Removed and Indoor Residential Gathering Limit Increases to 50 on May 19 in New York
Large-Scale Indoor Venue Capacity Increases to 30% and Large-Scale Outdoor Venue Capacity Increases to 33% on May 19, Proof of Vaccination or Recent Negative Test Still Required in New York
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont today announced a significant easing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on the region’s businesses, venues and gatherings given significant progress in vaccinations and sustained reduction in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“The tide is turning against COVID-19 in New York, and thanks to our increasing vaccination rates, as well as our successful, data-based regional approach, we’re able to take more steps to reopen our economy, help businesses and workers, and keep moving towards returning to normal,” Governor Cuomo said. “Thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers and our partners in government, we are now able to increase capacity limits for businesses, event venues and residences to reflect what we’re seeing in the COVID data. Maintaining this progress is critical and in order to keep moving in a positive direction, New Yorkers must continue to take all the proper precautions. If we let up now, we could slide backwards and that is something nobody wants. So, let’s be safe and for anyone who has yet to be vaccinated, please do so as soon as you can. With the addition of walk-in appointments, we’ve made it as easy as every to get your shot, so there are truly no excuses.”
Governor Phil Murphy said,”With our COVID-19 numbers, particularly hospitalizations, trending decisively in the right direction and our vaccination goals within reach, now is the time to take major steps to reopen our economy and loosen both indoor and outdoor gathering and capacity restrictions. We’ve done this the right way, in partnership with our neighboring states of New York and Connecticut, and by allowing data, science, and public health to guide our decision-making. Over these next few weeks, I encourage all remaining eligible New Jerseyans to get vaccinated so we can continue fighting back against this virus and move toward a ‘new normal’ for ourselves, our neighbors, and our loved ones.”
Governor Ned Lamont said, “Our region has led by example since the beginning of the pandemic, taking the virus seriously and working collaboratively across state lines to the benefit of all of our residents. We were able announce the elimination of business restrictions due to a nation-leading vaccine distribution program which benefits all Connecticut residents, and our neighbors in New York and New Jersey.”
New York and New Jersey Announce Today:
Social Distance-based Business Capacities
Effective May 19, most business capacities—which are currently based upon percentage of maximum occupancy—will be removed in New York and New Jersey. Businesses will only be limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the required social distance of 6 feet. This new distance-based maximum capacity will apply across commercial settings, including retail, food services, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services, among other settings. It will also apply in houses of worship.
Increase in Social and Residential Gathering Limits
In New York beginning May 10, the outdoor social gathering limit will increase from 200 to 500 people. Beginning May 19, the indoor social gathering limit will increase from 100 to 250 people. Also, the outdoor residential gathering limit of 25 people will be removed, reverting to the social gathering limit of 500 people with space for appropriate social distancing, and the indoor residential gathering limit will increase from 10 to 50 people. In New York, any event gatherings in excess of the social gathering limits may only occur if all individuals present proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result.
Congregate commercial and social events in New York—such as those at venues that host sports competitions, performing arts and live entertainment, and catered receptions—can exceed the social gathering limits of 500 people outdoors or 250 people indoors if all attendees over the age of four present either proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result and the required social distancing can be accommodated.
Starting May 19, large-scale indoor event venues will operate at 30 percent capacity, which is an increase from the current 10 percent capacity limit. Large-scale outdoor event venues will operate at 33 percent. Social distancing, masks, and other applicable health protocols will still apply, including the requirement of attendee proof of full vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test result.
Industry Reopening Requirements
While most industry capacity restrictions will be lifted, industry-specific requirements will remain in effect for a longer period of time, including state or local health authority event notification, health screening, contact information for tracing, enhanced air handling and building system standards, hand hygiene, and environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols. The State will continue to provide additional guidance on these provisions as they apply to each industry.
Today’s announcement builds on Governor Cuomo’s recent measures to further reopen the economy amid a steady decline in New York’s COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization rates. On April 30, Governor Cuomo announced that New York City indoor dining will expand to 75 percent capacity beginning May 7, bringing New York City in line with the rest of New York. The Governor also announced that hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services will expand to 75 percent capacity beginning May 7. New York City gyms and fitness centers will expand to 50 percent capacity beginning May 15. On April 28, Governor Cuomo announced that the food and beverage service, and catered event, curfews would end this month.
Connecticut Previously Announced:
Starting May 1: The elimination of outdoor restrictions including limits on table sizes, and the requirement that food be served with alcohol
Starting May 19: The elimination of all remaining business restrictions including those on capacity limits at large event venues in the state
In addition, Governor Cuomo announced that the New York City Subway will resume 24 hour a day service beginning May 17. In April, MTA New York City Transit officials announced 2,009,025 trips were recorded on the subway on April 8, the first time that more than two million trips were taken on the subway since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. The MTA will continue its unprecedented disinfection and cleaning effort. More than 75 percent of MTA customers agree the subway has never been cleaner. The resumption of 24-hour service will coincide with the Governor’s announcement lifting the 12 a.m. food and beverage service curfew for outdoor dining areas.
It’s ridiculous, almost humorous – if not so tragic – to hear Trump complaining that Biden hasn’t been able to issue a nationwide mandate to wear masks, when he is ostensibly the president (he says so, “I’m president. Can you believe it?” and “I can do anything I want. I’m president.”) but has failed to serve in the function while abusing the power. Trump could have used his power to require Domestic Production of protective equipment like masks, gowns, gloves, and the all-important ventilators, rather than give out massive no-bid contracts to companies like Kodak that had no experience, or have his son-in-law Jared Kushner use political operatives to take calls from grifters who claimed to be able to procure PPE, while dismissing the need to set up testing or send out equipment to Blue States, because, well, they vote Democratic and have Democratic leadership. Trump (an anti-vaxxer) has contradicted his own medical advisers, politicized the once vaunted CDC, FDA, NIH, thrown out nearly $1 trillion in Operation War Speed, all the while sowing such doubt in the efficacy or safety of any vaccine that would be rushed through testing. And yet, Trump, who disbanded the Obama-era pandemic office, pulled out of the World Health Organization and international efforts to produce a vaccine, has actually blamed Biden for failing to have stockpiled testing and vaccines against a virus that didn’t exist until more than three years into his reign. The Trump Campaign is now chiding and misrepresenting and frankly lying about Biden’s proposals and position on coronavirus and vaccines.
Trump, who is now listening only to those health “experts” like radiologist Scott Atlas who confirm his own conveniences, now is embracing the “herd immunity” (he called it “herd mentality in the ABC Town Hall) approach – essentially doing nothing, telling people not to wear masks or socially distance, so that as many as possible will become infected until so many are infected or dead, the virus has no place to go. Problem with that is you would need 225 million out of the 330 million population to get the infection, out of which as many as 6 million would die. But there is actually no proof that there is immunity from COVID-19, or that immunity after infection does not last more than a few months, or whether the virus mutates (like flu viruses) so that it becomes a new disease all over again.
Actual medical experts, including CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield: “We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” he said. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” Dr. Redfield said as recently as this week, after Trump chided the use of masks, “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.” Trump’s reaction? He rebuked Redfield, saying he had “made a mistake,” “misunderstood the question,” and had taken back his statement.
Estimates put the number of lives that could be saved between now and December- now forecast to be as high as 215,000 MORE deaths- at 100,000 and it is likely that had a nationwide mask order been imposed, 100,000 of the 200,000 who have already died could have been saved.About 1,000 Americans are dying each day.
And let’s be clear, New York State and the surrounding states became a hotspot because Trump’s intelligence network did not want to mention that the coronavirus was coming in from Europe. While everyone watched for the spread to come from the West Coast from China, 3 million people who came from infected areas of Europe had already come through New York’s airports. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo was left to figure out on his own how to contain the virus before it completely overwhelmed the health care system. Now, Trump wants to dismiss the numbers of COVID-19 dead in Blue States – apparently, dead people in Blue States don’t matter – to make the absurd argument that the rates of death in the United States are somehow on par with the rest of the world (not).
Here are Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, after a vaccine briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, in which he outlined his own plan to get control of the coronavirus, save lives and restore the economy: testing and tracing, national protocols for mask-wearing and social distancing, an actual plan to distribute the vaccine free.
“So let me be clear, I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump — and the American people can’t either,” Biden said.
“If I am elected president, I will begin implementing an effective distribution plan from the minute I take office. That is what I discussed with the experts in the briefing today. “It will include: a detailed timeline for when people will get the vaccine, a clear delineation of priority populations, the specific means and mechanisms of shipping and storage at appropriate temperatures, the division of responsibility at every level of government.
“And I will provide the leadership necessary to carry this plan out. I will level with the American people. I will take responsibility. I will support rather than tear down the experts responsible for day-to-day execution. I will follow the science.”
– Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.
I just concluded an hour and a half long briefing with seven of our nation’s top public health experts on the state of the pandemic, the steps needed to curb the spread of the virus, and the challenge of distributing a safe and effective vaccine once we have identified one.
Before I turn to those issues, let me say a few words about the president’s comments last night.
Even after acknowledging to Bob Woodward on tape that he was fully informed on the gravity of the danger related to COVID-19. He refused to warn the American people. And again, last night, in a televised town hall, the President revealed in no uncertain terms the lack of seriousness with which he continues to take this pandemic.
Nearly eight months after this crisis on the doorstep of 200,000 American deaths, President Trump refused once again to take responsibility or to take action.
By his own admission he continued to lie about COVID-19. He doubled down on his catastrophic mistakes.
And, perhaps worst of all — he made clear that he still doesn’t have a plan to bring us out of this crisis.
He even said that quote — “a lot of people think that masks are not good” — undercutting the easiest and most effective means we have for reducing the spread of this disease. [Asked “who thought that?” Trump said “waiters.”]
This virus is still taking nearly a thousand lives each day.
And forecasts show that the numbers are likely to climb this winter.
But, incredibly, President Trump insists that he wouldn’t have done anything differently.
Not one thing.
Last Friday, we learned that another one thousand Americans died due to this virus.
On the very same day, Canada reported that not one person died of COVID-19.
And Trump wouldn’t have done anything differently?
If you’re a parent in America, preparing for another day that you can’t send your child to school, if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, if your small business can’t open or you can’t go back to work because the virus is still spreading in your community, how does it make you feel to hear the President say he wouldn’t have done anything differently?
And if he gets four more years, why should we expect anything to change?
All President Trump had to offer last night was the same weak and feckless inaction — the same lies and empty promises — that we’ve seen from the very beginning.
He still won’t accept responsibility. He still won’t offer a plan.
Last night, he repeated what he has said so many times before: That even if he continues to offer only failing indifference some day, the virus will go away like a miracle.
It won’t go away like a miracle. The fact is, even if we get a vaccine, it will not be available to most of the population until well into next year.
And we are heading into a dangerous autumn.
In fact, the University of Washington model — which the White House has previously touted — projects that cases and deaths are going to spike in November – and an additional 215,000 Americans will die by the end of the year.
That’s more than have already died.
We need leadership right now to prevent that from happening. That same University of Washington model shows that if there is universal masking, we could cut those deaths by more than half. We could save more than 100,000 lives.
Even Donald Trump’s own director of the CDC told us that wearing a mask is the single most important step we can take to curb this virus. He said “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”
I spoke with the experts today about additional steps we can take to prevent needless deaths and suffering.
Uniform national guidance – and standards on social distancing – that can be applied to the particular circumstances of states and communities.
More effective approaches on testing and tracing.
If we do these things between now and January – we could save even more lives.
Last night, Donald Trump indicated he has no interest in doing these things.
A president’s first responsibility is to protect the American people.
And he won’t.
That is utterly disqualifying.
I also spoke with the experts about the paramount importance of preparing now for the swift, organized, and free distribution of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
I am profoundly grateful to the scientists and researchers working tirelessly to ensure that a safe and effective vaccine becomes a reality as soon as possible.
They carry the hopes of our entire nation and the entire world.
And when their work comes to fruition – and it will — they will no doubt save countless lives.
But scientific breakthroughs don’t care about calendars any more than the virus does.
They certainly don’t adhere to election cycles.
And their timing, their approval, and their distribution should never, ever be distorted by political considerations. They should be determined by science and safety alone.
A vaccine would offer a way back to normalcy and a path forward to better days for all of us.
It won’t happen overnight. It will take months to distribute it to the entire population.
But I’m more hopeful than ever in the power of science to get us there.
One thing is certain, we cannot allow politics to interfere with a vaccine in any way.
Americans have had to endure President Trump’s incompetence and dishonesty when it came to testing and personal protective equipment.
We cannot afford a repeat of those fiascos when it comes to a vaccine. The stakes are too high American families have already suffered and sacrificed far too much.
So let me be clear, I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump — and the American people can’t either.
Last week, Senator Harris and I laid out three questions this Administration must answer — to assure the American people that politics will play no role whatsoever in the vaccine process.
If Donald Trump can give honest answers to these questions — the American people should have the confidence and transparency they need to trust a vaccine and adopt it in numbers that make a difference.
First, what criteria will be used to ensure that a vaccine meets the scientific standard of safety and effectiveness?
Second, if the Administration greenlights a vaccine — who will validate that the decision was driven by science rather than politics?
Third, how can we be sure that the distribution of the vaccine will take place — safely, cost-free, and without a hint of favoritism?
The fact of the matter is developing a vaccine is only part of the battle.
Distributing a vaccine to the entire population is as complex and challenging as the most sensitive military operation.
I’ve been calling for an effective distribution plan for months.
If I am elected president, I will begin implementing an effective distribution plan from the minute I take office. That is what I discussed with the experts in the briefing today.
It will include: a detailed timeline for when people will get the vaccine, a clear delineation of priority populations, the specific means and mechanisms of shipping and storage at appropriate temperatures, the division of responsibility at every level of government.
And I will provide the leadership necessary to carry this plan out. I will level with the American people. I will take responsibility. I will support rather than tear down the experts responsible for day-to-day execution. I will follow the science.
With satisfactory answers to the three questions I laid out — every American— including me and my family — can have confidence in a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
This isn’t about politics. It’s about saving lives.
It’s about getting back to our loved ones and our friends.
It’s about getting our economy back on its feet.
Getting back to the movie theater, to the restaurant, to the ballpark.
It’s about getting back to our lives — and getting America up off the mat.
We can, and we must, be united in that pursuit.
No matter when that breakthrough emerges — no matter when that hope bears fruit.
That’s America at our best.
God bless our scientists and researchers — and frontline workers.
Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, offered his own plan to “Build back better” and revitalize jobs and the economy to benefit working families after the devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. This is from the Biden campaign:
Joe Biden believes to his core that there’s no greater economic engine in the world than the hard work and ingenuity of the American people. Nobody has more respect for the working women and men who get up every day to build and sustain this country, or more confidence that they can meet the challenges we face.
Make no mistake: America has been knocked down. The unemployment rate is higher than it was in the Great Recession. Millions have lost jobs, hours, pay, health care, or the small business they started, through no fault of their own.
The pandemic has also laid bare some unacceptable truths. Even before COVID-19, the Trump Administration was pursuing economic policies that rewarded wealth over work and corporations over working families. Too many families were struggling to make ends meet and too many parents were worried about the economic future for their children. And, Black and Latino Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, and women have never been welcomed as full participants in the economy.
Biden believes this is no time to just build back to the way things were before, with the old economy’s structural weaknesses and inequalities still in place. This is the moment to imagine and build a new American economy for our families and the next generation.
An economy where every American enjoys a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead. An economy more vibrant and more powerful precisely because everybody will be cut in on the deal.
In this time of crisis, Joe Biden has a plan to create millions of good-paying jobs and to give America’s working families the tools, choices, and freedom they need to build back better.
That starts with a real strategy to deal with the pandemic. We can’t solve the jobs crisis until we solve the public health crisis. Trump may have forgotten about COVID, but COVID hasn’t forgotten about us. On March 12, April 27, and June 11, Biden laid out a comprehensive strategy to get the pandemic under control and effectively reopen the economy — an approach that will both protect the health and safety of our people and boost economic activity. He will start implementing that plan on Day One.
Biden will also provide further immediate relief to working families, small businesses, and communities. Biden will:
Provide state, local, and tribal governments with the aid they need so educators, firefighters and other essential workers aren’t being laid off.
Extend COVID crisis unemployment insurance to help those who are out of work.
Provide a comeback package for Main Street businesses and entrepreneurs.
And, Biden will immediately put people to work by enlisting them to help fight the pandemic, including through a Public Health Jobs Corps.
But that’s just the start. The Biden economic recovery plan for working families will build our economy back better. Whenever America has had its back against the wall, we have acted together to lay the foundation — through public investment and a strong social contract — for the American people to pull together and push forward.
The Biden plan will mobilize the American people in service of four bold, national efforts to address four great national challenges. As President, Biden will:
1. Mobilize American manufacturing and innovation to ensure that the future is made in America, and in all of America. We’ve seen the importance of bringing home critical supply chains so that we aren’t dependent on other countries in future crises. But Biden believes we can’t stop there — he is releasing a plan today to build a strong industrial base and small-business-led supply chains to retain and create millions of good-paying union jobs in manufacturing and technology across the country.
2. Mobilize American ingenuity to build a modern infrastructure and an equitable, clean energy future. We’ve seen the need for a more resilient economy for the long-term, and that means investing in a modern, sustainable infrastructure and sustainable engines of growth — from roads and bridges, to energy grids and schools, to universal broadband. Biden will soon release updated proposals to meet the climate crisis, build a clean energy economy, address environmental injustice, and create millions of good-paying union jobs.
3. Mobilize American talent and heart to build a 21st century caregiving and education workforce which will help ease the burden of care for working parents, especially women. We’ve seen in this pandemic the immense burdens working parents, and especially women, carry in juggling their jobs and their caregiving responsibilities. We’ve learned anew how hard this work is, and how underappreciated those who do it are. Joe Biden will soon announce a plan to make it far easier to afford child care and to ensure aging relatives and people with disabilities have better access to home and community-based care; to elevate the pay, benefits, and professional opportunities for caregivers and educators; to create millions of good-paying new jobs in these areas with a choice to join a union; and to free up millions of people to join the labor force and grow a stronger economy in return.
4. Mobilize across the board to advance racial equity in America. We’ve seen again this year the tragic costs of systemic racism. Biden believes that addressing those costs has to be core to every part of the economic agenda, and also a distinct priority in its own right. As President, he will pursue a dedicated agenda to close the racial wealth gap, to expand affordable housing, to invest in Black, Latino, and Native American entrepreneurs and communities, to advance policing and criminal justice reform, and to make real the promise of educational opportunity regardless of race or zip code.
Building back better means an updated social contract that treats American workers and working families as essential at all times, not just times of crisis –– with higher wages, stronger benefits, and fair and safe workplaces. We’ve seen millions of American workers put their lives and health on the line to keep our country going. As Biden has said, let’s not just praise them, let’s pay them — a decent wage, at least $15 per hour, and ending the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities, and strong benefits so they can live a middle class life and provide opportunity for their kids. This starts with passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, providing public service and federal government workers with bargaining rights, and taking other steps to make it easier for workers to organize unions and collectively bargain. Biden will also address discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act as the next step in efforts to ensure women are paid equally for equal work. He will pass universal paid sick days and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. And he has a plan to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care, by providing a public option and lowering costs for care and for prescription drugs.
Building back better means helping small businesses and entrepreneurs come out the other side of this crisis strong, while demanding more from corporate America. We’ve seen the second bailout in 12 years for big corporations and Wall Street. And we’ve seen the Trump Administration provide all the tools necessary to help big businesses and well-connected cronies, while small businesses had to jump through hoops and many couldn’t access the relief they needed. Biden will ensure that corporate America finally pays their fair share in taxes, puts their workers and communities first rather than their shareholders, and respects their workers’ power and voice in the workplace. And Biden will help small businesses manage through the pandemic and recover, so that millions of entrepreneurs can get back on their feet and carry this economy forward.
To see this agenda through, Joe Biden will make new, bold investments and speed up the timetable for many of the 10-year investments he has already announced. He will pay for the ongoing costs of the plan by reversing some of Trump’s tax cuts for corporations and imposing common-sense tax reforms that finally make sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.
Today’s elevated unemployment will mean lower demand, which will mean lower growth for our economy (which relies on consumption). A robust jobs agenda will increase demand. That is why many economists agree that if we fail to make far-reaching, productive investments, it will undermine not only our long-term growth potential, but also our long-term fiscal situation. Additionally, for communities of color that are experiencing disproportionate rates of unemployment, and for young people entering the workforce, getting to full employment as fast as possible is critical to their futures and all of America’s future. Those who argue we can’t afford these investments are the same people who doled out trillions in giveaways to the wealthy and corporations the past three years. Now they’re saying there’s no money left for working families? Joe Biden fundamentally rejects that notion.
Biden is releasing details on the first part of his agenda, with a separate factsheet on his strategy for manufacturing and innovation to ensure the future is made in America, in all of America, by American workers.
Governor Offers Full Partnership with Federal Government as Part of State’s Continued Efforts to Bring Mass Testing to Scale; New York Will Partner with Connecticut and New Jersey to Create a Regional Testing Partnership
Announces $200 Million in Emergency Food Assistance for More Than 700,000 Low-Income Households Enrolled in SNAP
Governor is Working with Congressional Delegation to Create a COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund
Announces New Partnerships with Private Sector to Provide Free Housing for Frontline Medical Workers
Releases ‘New York Tough’ Video Showing How New Yorkers are Spending Their Time at Home, Building on Ongoing State Efforts to Reach All Communities in New York with the Life-Saving Stay Home Message – Video is Available Here
Confirms 10,575 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 170,512; New Cases in 54 Counties
The reason that the national coronavirus numbers are plateauing is because New York State, with more coronavirus cases than any other country, has brought down the rates of new infections, even as the daily death toll remains high. But it is not clear whether COVID-19 has yet to strike places where the numbers seem relatively low, because there is not sufficient testing. Trump is pushing to reopen the economy – desperate to be able to go into the election with a strong economy, low unemployment rates, high Dow – without care that lifting stay-at-home mitigation will trigger new spikes in infections and new waves, as are already being experienced in some Asian countries.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has received high marks for his command-and-control that clearly has resulted in significantly lower rates of infection than a slew of statisticians predicted could happen if steps to contain the virus were not implemented, said as much. Looking ahead to how and when the state could get back to work, he warned against doing it too early or too suddenly. Testing – both to diagnose and to determine if someone has the antibodies to effectively be immune to the coronavirus – is critical and he called for the federal government to exercise the Defense Production Act to get private labs and manufacturers to bring tests up to scale, that is, by the tens of millions.—Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State is ramping up antibody testing, a key component of any plan to reopen the economy. The state is currently conducting 300 of these antibody tests, and is on track to conduct 1,000 per day by next Friday and 2,000 per day by the following week. As part of the state’s continued efforts to bring mass testing to scale, the Governor offered a full partnership with the federal government to conduct this important work. In the interim, the Governor announced that New York, Connecticut and New Jersey will create a regional testing partnership to bring mass testing to scale for residents in these states.
Governor Cuomo also announced an additional $200 million in emergency food assistance will be available for more than 700,000 low-income households enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Those enrolled in SNAP and not yet receiving the maximum benefit will receive an additional payment to bring them up to this amount in March and April. The supplemental benefits will be issued in April and delivered directly to recipients’ existing Electronic Benefit Transfer accounts. Households eligible for the supplement that live in counties outside of New York City will begin receiving the supplemental emergency benefit starting on April 13, and all eligible households will have received it by April 24. In New York City, the emergency benefits will be issued starting on April 14, and the issuance completed on April 25.
Governor Cuomo is also working with New York’s Congressional delegation to create a COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund to support health care and other frontline workers and their families who contracted COVID-19.
The Governor also announced new partnerships with the private sector to provide housing for frontline medical workers. Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky will contribute $2 million to help provide rooms in union hotels at no cost to frontline workers. As part of this effort, 1199SEIU is partnering with Airbnb to offer housing to its members — comprised of hospital and other healthcare workers — as they fight the COVID-19 crisis statewide. Additionally, the InterContinental Times Square, Yotel and the Hudson Hotel are providing an additional 800 free rooms for health care workers coming to New York City from out of state, collaborating with the Hotel Association of New York City, MetLife and the Related Companies.
As part of Governor Cuomo’s social media awareness campaign, the state today released a video that features New Yorkers showing us their reality as they stay home under the state-wide Pause restrictions. Working in partnership with Resonant Pictures, the state put out a call for photographs of life in the city over the past three weeks. The video, set to the iconic song by The Fray, truly illustrates “How to Save a Life,” during the pandemic.
“The data has shown that what we do today will determine the infection rate two or three days from now, so we must continue to do what we are doing even though it is difficult –because it is working,” Governor Cuomo said. “The key to reopening is going to be testing. New York State has been very aggressive on testing, and our state lab is now developing an antibody test which is fast and non-invasive. The State Department of Health can currently do 300 tests a day and by next Friday, they will be able to do 1,000 tests and 2,000 tests the following week. That’s great, sounds like a lot, but 2,000 tests are still a drop in the bucket, and I’m proud of how New York has advanced on testing.”
Here is more of what Governor Cuomo said in his daily briefing:
“New York State has been very aggressive on testing and our state lab has been very aggressive on testing. Our state lab is now developing an antibody test which is a fast and not invasive test. The State Department of Health can do 300 tests a day. By next Friday, they will be able to do 1,000 tests and 2,000 tests the following week. That’s great, sounds like a lot but 2,000 tests are still a drop in the bucket, and I’m proud of how New Yorkers advanced on testing. You look at how quickly New York State has moved on testing and how many tests we have done – we’ve done a higher percentage of tests in New York State than other countries have done and New York State far exceeds what this nation as a whole is doing on testing. Even with our high capacity and high performance on testing it’s still not enough. It’s not enough if you want to reopen on a meaningful scale and reopen quickly so the testing front is going to be a challenge for us.
“Why can’t New York just develop more tests and do more testing? How do we get New York State Department of Health to scale? That’s an issue that we’ve been working on it’s harder than it sounds. You need certain reagents so you can do the testing. You need certain materials so you can do the testing. It’s very hard to get these reagents right. You’re in a situation where countries all across the globe are trying to do the same thing.
“Federal government has something called the Defense Production Act, DPA they call it, which I’ve been saying from day one is a very powerful tool for the federal government to use when they need to secure a product in the defense of this nation. This is in the defense of this nation. The federal government has used it effectively. They’ve used that in this situation more as a point of leverage than anything else, basically saying to a company, you know, we need you to do this, we do have the Defense Production Act that we could use. But we need an unprecedented mobilization where government can produce these tests in the millions.
“New York State Department of Health is doing is doing several thousand. We have 9 million people we want to get back to work. You need more than several thousand tests per week if this is going to happen any time soon. Private sector companies on their own, I don’t believe will be able to come to scale. We’re working with the private sector companies. They have the tests but they don’t have the capacity to come to scale. You’re going to need government intervention to make that happen and the federal government is in the best position to do that.
“New York State offers to be a full partner with the federal government. We do have the largest number of cases in New York. New York is an economic engine. I can’t do it as a state. If I had a Defense Production Act in the state, I would use it. I would use it. I don’t have that tool, the federal government does. Any way we can partner with the federal government to get these tests up to scale as quickly as possible, we are all in. I like to operate as a coalition with New Jersey and Connecticut because we are the tri-state area. I have spoken to Governor Murphy and Governor Lamont of Connecticut. They will join in a testing coalition. So, I ask the federal government if you are willing to step in and use the federal powers, New York State and New Jersey and Connecticut would partner with the federal government. And let’s get the testing up to scale quickly so we can start to build that bridge to reopening the economy.
“Second on reopening, you need a federal stimulus bill. You need a federal stimulus bill – they passed a couple already. But you need a fair federal stimulus bill that is not a political pork barrel bill. You know where the cases are. You know where the need is. I understand the political dynamics of the U.S. Senate but this is not a time to be passing bills that really are to make sure your home state gets enough funding. That’s not what this is about. This is about helping the country coming back and focusing on the need. When I says the bills were unfair to New York, the past bills, it is not just that I am advocating to New York. Look at the need. Look at where the cases are. Look at where the damage has been done. The federal government is trying to address that damage. You know where it has been done. Look at the chart on where the cases exist. Look at the number of deaths, the number of cases, the number of hospitalizations and help those places come back and come back quickly. That’s what the stimulus bill is supposed to be doing.
“Also, let’s make sure we are learning from what we just went through and are going through. Because there are lessons I think we should all be aware of over the past few months. And before you take a step forward, let’s make sure we know what we are stepping into. A question I had from day one, when you look back at this, where were the horns that should have been triggered back in December and January. Where were the warning signs? Who was supposed to blow the whistle? The President has asked this question and if think he’s right. The President’s answer is the World Health Organization should have been blowing the whistle. I don’t know enough to know if that’s right or wrong, but I know the question is right and sometimes the question is more important than the answer.
“How did this happen? I still want to know how this happened. Because the warning signs were there. And if you don’t know the answer, then how do you know it is not going to happen again, right? Fool me once – January, you go back and look at the headlines in January and you see questions and you see warnings. Now, they were all over the map, but we saw what was happening in Asia. We saw what was happening in Europe. Where were the international experts saying, ‘Well, if this is happening there, this is what we should expect to happen in the United States? Or prepare to happen in the United States?’ January, February, you still had sources in this country saying basically there’s nothing to worry about. You know, how did that happen? Did we really need to be in this situation where the United States winds up with a higher number of cases than the places that went before? We sat here and we watched China. China winds up have 84,000 cases, we wind up having 474,000 cases. I mean, how does that happen? We saw South Korea. They wind up with 10,000 cases. Italy, where we saw a collapse of the whole health system, winds up with 143,000 cases.
“I raise the question because the answer, again, is less important than the question, but before we move forward let’s make sure we’re not repeating the same mistake that we made, right? George Santayana. ‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ I don’t want to repeat what we just repeated, what we just went through over this past month.
“So, what are the relevant questions? Is there going to be a second wave? Let’s look at the countries that have gone through this reopening process and what can we learn from them? Right? Well, we have to start to reopen. Let’s look at what the other countries who have gone before us, what they did, what worked and what didn’t work. When you take just a cursory review you see caution signs. Hong Kong appeared to have the virus under control, they let its guard down, the virus came back. Hong Kong recorded the biggest rise in cases and a new wave of infections. Is that true? Could it happen here? Article yesterday, Italy has seen a bump in the number of cases. You know, before we take a step make sure we are more informed and more aware than we were in the past. They’re talking about a second wave in Singapore.
“You got back and you look at the 1918 flu epidemic. That was over 10 months. There was a first wave, there was a second wave. The second wave was worse than the first wave because the virus mutated. Third peak and the whole experience was 10 months. Is there any extrapolation to where we are today? I don’t know the answers. This is not what I do. It’s not what a state does.
“But, we know the questions and we should have the questions answered before we take a step forward. Yes, no one has been here before. These are totally uncharted waters. But we do know that none of this is predetermined and it is all a function of our actions. We are in total control of our destiny here. What we do will effect literally live and death for hundreds of people.
“So, where do we go from here? First, keep doing what we’re doing. Stay home because that works. We are flattening the curve, we must continue to flatten the curve. We have to get testing to scale. That is an entirely new exercise. It’s something we still haven’t done well in this country. We need both diagnostic testing and antibody testing. We need millions and millions of them. We need them in a matter of weeks, not months.
“We have to be more prepared as a nation. We should never go through this scramble that we went through with states competing against other states to buy masks from China. I mean, we should just never have been here in the first place, but certainly we should never be here again. And then let’s make sure we study the waters ahead and proceed with caution before we set off on the next journey. When we talk about reopening, let’s study the data and let’s look at what has happened around the world. Let’s make sure the best health minds in the country are giving us their best advice.
“How do we go forward? We stay New York tough. New York tough means more than just tough, it means discipline. It means unified. It means loving. And it means smart. Now is a time to be smart. Now more than ever. That’s what it means to be New York tough and we are.”
“The actual curve, today 18,569, is much, much better. How do you create a curve so different from the projections? In fairness to experts, nobody has been here before, and a big variable was what policies would put in place, and a bigger variable is whether people listen to the policies you put in place. Just because you announce a policy– to close businesses and everybody stay home – if people don’t take seriously or feel is political, they wouldn’t follow it.”
Finally, the Governor confirmed 10,575 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 170,512 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 170,512 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows: