Jan 22, 2021
For Joe Biden, Inauguration Day marks both a grim milestone in the Covid-19 pandemic and a new chapter in the United States’ response to it. On January 19th, the US surpassed 400,000 deaths related to the coronavirus. On January 20th, Biden was officially inaugurated as the president of the United States. However, the president and his team had little cause for merriment. The new administration was handed over a country struggling on three fronts: politically, financially, and in the midst of a global health pandemic.
President Biden refused to downplay the uphill battle that not only his administration but all citizens of the United States face, saying on Thursday: “Let me be very clear, things are going to continue to get worse before they get better,” “The memorial we held last night [to mark 400,000 American deaths] will not be our last one. The death toll will likely top 500,000 next month.”.
It seems that the newly sworn-in president is right. His comments come at the heels of worrying statistics: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 18 million Americans have received a dose of the new vaccine; this contrasts starkly to the roughly 200,000 new cases of the virus that the United States is recording daily. Not to mention the nearly 25 million people that have been infected so far.
Biden addressed these statistics in a press conference on Thursday. He called the national vaccine roll-out a “dismal failure thus far, even as the S&P 500 stock market index rallied – at least partly due to hopes that the virus is being brought under control.
How will the new administration tackle the problem?
As part of his promise to “manage the hell” out of the pandemic, Biden is quick to begin. On his first day in the office, president Biden had already signed a string of executive orders and presidential directives aiming at curbing the spread of the virus and minimizing rates of infection. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki outlined public health precautions for White House staff with mandatory masks, daily testing, and social distancing all in place as de jure defaults. Other plans that the president has outlined include:
– Using the Defense Production Act to increase the availability of vaccine doses
– Regular Covid-19 briefings led by scientists
– The setting up of federally-run vaccination centers.
– Nationwide masking as well as mandatory masks on interstate travel by plane, train, and bus.
President Biden is signing a flurry of executive orders, actions and memorandums aimed at rapidly addressing the coronavirus pandemic and dismantling many of President Trump's policies. https://t.co/XHgzk8hBTx
— CNN (@CNN) January 22, 2021
The president also intends to ask Congress to spend $400 billion to kick-start his national COVID-19 response. The plan includes:
- $20 billion for a national vaccine program
- $50 billion to expand testing
- Funding 100,000 public health workers in contact tracing and vaccine distribution
- Expanding paid leave programs.
President Biden and his team are well aware of the daunting tasks that await them, but they are approaching the matter relentlessly. After all, Biden’s presidency rests entirely on his ability to eradicate COVID – 19. Knowing this, Biden commented, “History is going to measure whether we are up to the task.”