U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is walking into the White House with the task of steering the United States away from a pandemic that’s killed nearly 290,000 Americans in nine months. As he awaits inauguration, COVID-19 is surging nationally; hospitalisations are inching past their previous highs; unemployment is also at a historic high, and the outgoing president is still repeatedly suggesting the election was rigged.
Biden understands the gigantic task before him, or at least suggested as much at a recent event in Delaware, when he outlined his three-step plan to get the pandemic under control within his first 100 days in office. The plan itself sounds relatively straightforward, hinging on some of epidemiology’s standard protocol, such as mask wearing and vaccine distribution. There’ll also be a strong emphasis on opening schools safely during the President-elect’s first three months.
As the clock ticks closer to January 20, 2021, you should familiarise yourself with these policies. Here’s what you can expect as the forthcoming president tries to curb the pandemic.
Though the president can’t issue an enforceable mask mandate spanning the nation, the federal government will enforce masking in certain areas it can control under Joe Biden. The President-elect promised to sign a mask-mandate on his first day in office, making facial coverings mandatory in federal buildings, planes, trains, and buses that cross state lines. The rule will only stand for 100 days, according to Biden, who’s noted consistently that he intends to adhere to mainstream medical consensus and experts while in office.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who Trump routinely sidelined during his administration, will remain at the White House as Biden’s chief medical adviser.
With vaccine inoculations underway in the United Kingdom and distribution to some hospitals already happening in the U.S., Biden has pledged to deliver and administer 100 million doses within his first 100 days. The first on the list to receive vaccines are healthcare workers and residents at long-term care facilities, though educators are a high priority, according to CNN.
These rules are in accordance with the CDC, or more specifically the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — the body within the CDC that advises on vaccine distribution and general best practices. Judging by the ACIP’s ethical framework, it’s likely that essential workers would follow nursing home residents on the vaccination priority list.
The U.S. is already getting a head start on Biden’s goal. Dr. Fauci said on Tuesday that “mass vaccinations” could be underway by the end of December, following the FDA’s conclusion that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine meets a “successful criteria.”
At his Delaware speech, Biden called upon Congress to make this a more feasible reality.
According to Yahoo Finance, the President-elect said:
In one hundred days, it should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school, if Congress provides the funding we need to protect students, educators, and staff. If states and cities put strong public health measures in place that we all follow, then my team will work to see that a majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days.
Biden’s appeal for Congressional support is contingent upon the passage of a COVID relief bill. Currently, though, Congress is deadlocked over the provisions outlined in the bill, which is in the ballpark of $US900 ($1,206) billion. The plan to opening schools seems the most thorny, however, as it’s beholden to the particulars of different state governments, their allocation of financial resources, and respective health policies.
As we wait for mass vaccination to take effect over the long haul, it’s good to know the incoming administration’s plans for dealing with this mess.