Biden’s COVID-19 Strategy
February 17, 2021
On January 21, 2021, one day after Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn as President and Vice President of the United States, President Biden announced in a 200-page national strategy his proposed actions against the COVID-19 pandemic. He proposed a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which aims to protect Americans’ health and reverse pandemic-induced economic damage.
Biden wants $1 trillion to be dedicated to delivering “immediate, direct relief” to Americans with the aim of “building a bridge to economic recovery for working families.” This includes $1,400 per-person checks for eligible Americans; currently, Congress is debating who should qualify for such payments.
The American Rescue Plan also allots $400 billion to help small businesses and various communities, with a focus on “small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color, and protecting the jobs of… first responders, transit workers, and other essential workers.”
Finally, Biden also proposed an additional $400 billion to strengthen testing and vaccination efforts, to ensure adequate distribution of personal protective equipment, and to support the safe reopening of schools. While Biden originally pledged that he would reopen most K-12 schools within his first 100 days in office, many believe that this is not a feasible goal, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s Chief Medical Advisor, who says this plan “may not happen.” Nevertheless, Biden hopes to dedicate $130 billion to support, among other things, the adaptation of educational spaces to socially-distanced learning, the installation of ventilation systems in school buildings to prevent virus transmission, and the development of support services for students as they transition back to the in-person environment. The Centers for Disease Control has also warned against the mental health, educational, and socio-emotional challenges that impact students in the virtual learning setting, echoing the sentiment that schools can safely reopen by following procedures such as mask-wearing and small student cohorts.
Additionally, of the 17 executive orders that President Biden signed on his first day in office, one requires masks to be worn in Federal buildings and on Federal lands. Biden also revered former President Trump’s decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Another Biden goal is to distribute 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines within his first 100 days in office. While many Americans are skeptical of this plan, the necessary average rollout of 1 million vaccines per day may be in reach. Over 43.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. since the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines with emergency use authorization last December. Prior to the start of Biden’s presidency, some days saw the distribution of around one million vaccine doses; since Biden’s inauguration, vaccination rates have risen as high as 2.1 million doses per day.
As President Biden has yet to reach a month in office, no one can predict the outcome of his American Rescue Plan, but the administration continues to emphasize its aim to mitigate the pandemic and address its resounding negative impacts.