Enlarge /. US President Joe Biden will release his COVID-19 strategic plan at the White House on Thursday, January 21, 2021.
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Just one day after taking office, President Joe Biden and his administration unveiled a comprehensive, 200-page strategic plan and over a dozen ordinances and measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic that is currently raging across the country.
With the launch underway, the government is hoping to finally take control of the virus that has already killed more than 408,000 Americans. The death toll is expected to exceed 500,000 in the next month, Biden said in an appearance on Thursday to reveal his strategic plan.
"Things will keep getting worse before they get better," he said, describing his approach to the pandemic as a "full-scale war effort."
The delay between infection of humans, development of COVID-19, and death of the disease will keep the numbers grim for the coming weeks regardless of the new efforts made today. However, the administration also faces challenges in inheriting the work from the previous administration.
In a comment on Thursday, Biden criticized the federal response so far: "Over the past year, we could not rely on the federal government to act with the urgency, focus and coordination that we needed, and we have seen the tragic cost of that failure. "
When she took office, administration sources told CNN that they were shocked by – or the lack of – federal work on the pandemic. "We don't have to revise anything," a source told the outlet. "We have to build everything from scratch."
Another source reiterated that the Trump administration had no plan and that Biden's administration should start from "number one". Upon realizing the situation, the Administrator reportedly replied, "Wow, just another confirmation of total incompetence."
To gain control of the pandemic, Biden took a number of measures, signed executive orders Wednesday requiring masking and physical distancing on federal properties, and organized a White House COVID-19 response team. On Thursday, he announced 10 additional Executive Orders aimed at: promoting vaccine and equipment manufacturing; Reimbursement from states for emergency supplies and National Guard operations; Increase test capacity; Support in the development of new therapies; Promoting the collection of health data; Instructions for Schools to Reopen Safely; Support companies in ensuring the safety of their employees; Require masking on transit and negative tests from international travelers; Ensuring and equitable response to pandemics; and restore America's public health leadership on the global scene.
Plans in motion
The 200-page strategic plan, entitled "National Strategy for Responding to Covid-19 and Preparing for Pandemics," contains all of the steps Biden has planned to combat the pandemic. One of the top priorities is to speed up vaccination, which has been plagued by disorganization since it was launched in December. To date, the federal government has distributed nearly 38 million doses, but only 17.5 million doses have gotten into people's arms, and only about 2.4 million people have received their second dose. Biden is committed to delivering 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days in office.
To achieve this goal, Biden plans to accelerate vaccine development, make the vaccine available to more people, increase the number of places people can be vaccinated, and expand the medical workforce that can deliver vaccines. He has already authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin setting up the first of many federal vaccination sites.
One of the biggest vaccination hurdles seems to have been the coordination between the federal states and the federal government. In his final days at the helm, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar blamed states for the botched rollouts. Meanwhile, states were pointing fingers at the federal response.
To address the problem, Biden noted in his remarks on Thursday that he had instructed FEMA to assign a "COVID response link" to each state so that each state has its federal person who coordinates federal and state efforts to deliver vaccines distribute and receive shots into people's arms.
Meanwhile, Biden also took steps to rejoin the World Health Organization and withdrew the resignation notice sent by the Trump administration. In a speech on Thursday, leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci told the WHO executive committee: "The United States stands ready to work in partnership and in solidarity to support the international response to COVID-19, its impact on the world mitigate, strengthen our institutions and advance the epidemic readiness for the future and improving the health and wellbeing of all people around the world. "