WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – The coronavirus action plan President Joe Biden unveils on Thursday aims to bring new urgency to the country’s vaccination campaign, coupled with another round of economic relief for remote Americans.
The Biden plan comes as a divided nation remains caught in the grip of the most dangerous wave of the pandemic to date. So far, more than 385,000 people have died in the United States. And government figures on Thursday showed a rise in weekly jobless claims to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing companies to downsize and lay off workers.
Biden is hoping his multi-pronged strategy, which will be detailed in a speech Thursday night, will put the country on the road to recovery by the end of its first 100 days. “It’s going to be tough,” Biden said Monday after receiving his second vaccine. “It won’t be easy. But we can do it.
A more disciplined focus on immunization is the widely anticipated new game-changer, but that’s far from all. Biden calls on Americans to move past their sense of pandemic fatigue and renew their commitment to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, especially larger ones. It’s still the surest way to stop the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported on Tuesday alone.
He should also ask Congress for another round of economic relief. Biden has previously tweeted his support for a $ 2,000 stimulus check, saying the previous $ 600 check was “not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table.”
Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has said the Biden COVID-19 package will be the first order of business this year. Democrats expect it to also include more help for the unemployed as well as funds for the state’s efforts to contain the pandemic and maintain basic services.
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But Biden’s biggest challenge is “winning the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his example,” said Dr. Leana Wen, public health specialist and emergency physician.
With the support of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration has delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first vaccines, the country’s immunization campaign is slowly starting with an estimated 10.3 million people receiving the first of the two vaccines, although more than 29 million doses have been administered.
Biden aims to accelerate this by providing more vaccines and working closely with states and local communities to get vaccines in the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and established guidelines for determining who should be given priority for vaccines, but has largely left it to national and local authorities to organize their vaccination campaigns.
“This is going to involve coordination at all levels, as well as resources,” said Dr Nadine Gracia, executive vice president of the Trust for America’s Health. “The (incoming) administration is committed to meeting the needs of the communities.”
Biden has set himself a goal of administering 100 million shots in his first 100 days. The rate of vaccination is approaching one million vaccines per day, but 1.8 million per day would be needed to achieve generalized or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate from the American Hospital Association. Wen says …
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