United States President-elect Joe Biden outlined his main goals for tackling the coronavirus pandemic in the first 100 days of his presidency by pitching his candidates for key health positions in his administration.
Speaking from his transitional seat in Wilmington, Delaware, President-elect Biden said his main goals, developed with US infectious disease specialist Dr Anthony Fauci, are to distribute vaccines, reopen schools and to require the wearing of masks “if possible”.
Biden has announced he will choose California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and has appointed former Obama economic adviser Jeff Zients as the White House coronavirus coordinator.
“We did not get into this mess quickly. We are not going to get out of this quickly. That is going to take time. But I am absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease, ”said Biden.
Reiterating a commitment made during his campaign for the presidency, Biden said he would impose a nationwide mandate requiring people to wear masks in federal buildings, on federal lands and during interstate travel. Biden said he would additionally ask the American public to voluntarily wear masks for 100 days.
“As the new president, I will speak directly to the American people. See what I say now: “We need your help. Wear a mask for only 100 days ”.”
Biden wants to see 100 million doses of the vaccine delivered to Americans within the first 100 days of his administration, a crucial period seen as vital to the success of a new presidency.
It will focus on reopening US public schools by providing federal funding for accommodations and equipment to keep students and teachers safe.
Biden said his team’s “initial review” of plans in place under the Trump administration shows that additional funding from Congress will be needed for vaccine distribution.
“Without urgent action from this Congress this month to devote sufficient resources to the distribution and manufacture of vaccines … there is a real chance that after a first round of vaccinations the effort will slow down and stop. Biden said.
Biden said he was “encouraged” by signs of a bipartisan deal in the US Congress on a new $ 908 billion round of COVID-19 funding and urged Republican and Democratic leaders to conclude work on a bill before the end of the year.
New cases of the coronavirus have increased in the United States in recent weeks, with more than 200,000 new cases reported in a single day for the first time last week. Hospitalizations and deaths have also increased. 102,148 people were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 on Monday, according to The data of the Covid Tracking project. More than 285,000 people have died from the disease in the United States, says Johns Hopkins University pointing, by far the highest death toll in the world.
In addition to Becerra and Zients, Biden said he would appoint Dr Vivek Murthy as US surgeon general, Dr Rochelle Walensky as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith as chair of a COVID-19 Equity Task Force. Fauci will become the president’s chief medical adviser.
“This is my primary COVID healthcare team,” Biden said, adding that he would add “more leaders to oversee vaccine distribution, supply chain testing and other key functions”.
Trump claims vaccine victory
Biden’s announcement came on the same day that President Donald Trump won the race to develop vaccines against the virus.
“We are extremely proud that Pfizer and Moderna have announced that their vaccines are around 95% effective, a figure no one expected to be able to achieve,” Trump said, adding that millions of doses would be available this month. . once the Food and Drug Administration gives its approval.
Pfizer’s vaccine is already distributed in the UK and could be recommended for use in the US as early as this week.
“We are going to have it distributed very quickly. We will have it all sorted out and hundreds of millions more will follow quickly. Every American who wants the vaccine will be able to get it, ”Trump said.
If necessary to ensure distribution, Trump has said he will use the Defense Production Act to order the manufacture of necessary vaccines and supplies. The 1950 war law allows the president to control the production of materials.
Trump spoke at a White House event that did not include those responsible for Biden’s transition. Biden defeated Trump in the November 3 election.
Biden has announced his health team and COVID-19 goals.