U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Sunday have revealed their plans to tackle the coronavirus pandemic that is seeing a resurgence across the nation.
The COVID-19 response is expected to move in a different direction under the Biden administration in comparison to President Donald Trump’s plans, according to his transition website.
President-elect Biden appointed a new coronavirus response team on Monday, which is led by public health officials, doctors, and former government personalities. Former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is expected to lead the advisory board, along with former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler and Yale University epidemiologist Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.
The coronavirus response team will include Obamacare architect Dr. Zeke Emanuel, American author and surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande, and well-known Trump administration whistleblower Rick Bright.
Other members announced include In-Q-Tel Vice President Dr. Luciano Borio, epidemiologist and journalist Dr. Celine Gounder, pediatrician Dr. Julie Morita, infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, Global Health Council President Loyce Pace, emergency medicine professor Dr. Robert Rodriguez, and appointed-United Nations Special Envoy on Tuberculosis Dr. Eric Goosby, The Washington Post reported.
President-elect Biden also revealed the blueprints for his coronavirus task force in a TV address on Monday, where he urged Americans to wear a mask. Here are some of the plans outlined in Biden’s transition website.
Expanding access to coronavirus health services
The Biden administration’s top priority is to increase COVID-19 testing and contact tracing to help give scientists a clear picture of where the virus may see a resurgence. According to his “Build Back Better” program, the government will double the number of drive-through testing sites to provide Americans with regular, reliable, and free testing.
The policy also aims to invest in technology, including at-home test kits and instant tests, increase testing capacity. They will also establish a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps that would “mobilize” 100,000 contact tracers.
Additionally, Biden says he would also create a Pandemic Testing Board that would help produce and distribute coronavirus test kits across the country.
Providing governments critical supplies
President-elect Biden vowed to give state, city, and tribal governments critical supplies they would need to fight the coronavirus pandemic. He would also activate the Defense Production Act to increase the production of personal protective equipment, including masks and face shields, to meet the demand and have enough stored in stockpiles.
Investing in coronavirus vaccines and treatments
Biden promises to invest at least $25 billion to scale up COVID-19 vaccines and treatments and distribute those to everyone in the United States for free.
The new administration also vowed that politics will not play any role in the approval of vaccines and that they will release clinical data for any approved vaccine that is made available to the general public.
Imposing universal mask mandates
Biden has said that he would work with local government officials to require masks in public. A coronavirus projection by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found that a universal mask mandate could save the lives of more than 100,000 people.
If 95% of Americans wear masks, the number of daily deaths by February 1, 2021, could be reduced to 1,325. With the current rules in place, the United States is expected to see at least 2,227 daily deaths by the same date.
A universal mask mandate could also reduce the number of daily COVID-19 infections to 171,437, compared to the projected 259,138 if all current guidelines continue.
Addressing the shortage of PPEs
The Biden team also plans to address the shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers. According to an analysis by the American Hospital Association, the country has seen a severe shortage of PPEs since the beginning of the pandemic, and it is expected to get worse.