President-elect Joe Biden presented his three-point plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, a battery of measures to learn to live with the virus that continues to clash with the measures proposed by the still President Donald Trump.
The plan, announced when he presented the team he has designed to control the pandemic, would aim to vaccinate at least 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office, his pledge to sign a law mandating the use of the mask and his intention to have a plan to get children back to school safely.
All of this was announced on the same day that Trump signed a largely symbolic executive order to prioritize sending the coronavirus vaccine to Americans over other nations.
“My first 100 days will not end with the Covid-19 virus. I can’t promise that,” Biden said at an event in Wilmington, Delaware. “But we got into this mess progressively, so we’re not going to get out of it quickly, it’s going to take some time. But I am absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better.
On Tuesday, Biden said his administration would give priority to vaccinating health care workers and long-term care residents, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisors. The president-elect also said he would vaccinate educators as soon as possible.
In addition, Biden introduced the key members of his health care team who will lead his administration’s response to the pandemic that has already killed more than 284,000 Americans and described his team’s first three primary goals.
In addition to the goal of at least 100 million injections of vaccine, the President-elect reiterated his commitment to sign a mandate regulating the use of masks on his first day in office. While the president cannot unilaterally require all Americans to wear them, under the law, Biden said he could require them in places such as federal buildings and on airplanes, trains and buses for interstate travel.
Biden said the health team’s third national priority is getting children back to school safely. He said that if Congress provides the necessary funding to protect students, educators and staff, and state cities implement strong public health measures that Americans follow, “my team will work to see that most of our schools can open by the end of my first 100 days.
The President-elect noted that he drafted the goals in consultation with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease physician and his recently announced chief medical advisor on the pandemic.
Biden reiterated his call to Congress to join in passing a $900 billion Covid-19 financial assistance bill to support struggling Americans and safely reopen businesses and schools. He said that while immediate funding was critical, when he takes office in January, his administration will take additional steps to support Americans and fund vaccine distribution efforts.
In addition to announcing Fauci, Biden this week named Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, as his nominee for secretary of health and human services and Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general in the Obama administration, as his nominee for surgeon general. Biden’s transition co-chair and former Obama administration official Jeff Zients will serve as Covid-19 response coordinator and advisor to the president, and Natalie Quillian, another Obama administration veteran, will serve as deputy coordinator of the Covid-19 response.
Since the pandemic began, Trump has undermined his own medical experts and sidelined scientists. The President has refused to take basic steps to control the virus and, in particular, refused to wear a mask in public for several months, holding large gatherings without social distancing.
Biden, by contrast, has long been committed to listening to the advice of scientists and public health experts on the pandemic. He has worn a mask at public events and emphasized the importance of adhering to public health guidelines.