Biden aims for 100 million vaccinations in first hundred days

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President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday laid out three goals for the first hundred days of his administration’s COVID-19 response: getting 100 million people vaccinated against the virus, requiring masks where he has authority to and getting kids back in school.

Biden laid out his plan while introducing nominees and appointees who will play a key role in his administration’s response to the pandemic.

“I’m absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of this disease and change life in America for the better,” Biden said from Wilmington, Del., where he was joined by some of his appointees.

Biden discussed the path ahead in terms of distributing a COVID-19 vaccine, urging Congress to provide more resources to help vaccinate 100 million people by late April.

State and local governments have warned they do not have enough funding needed to run mass vaccination campaigns once a vaccine is widely available.

“Developing a vaccine is only one herculean task. Distributing a vaccine is another herculean task,” he said. “We need Congress to finish the bipartisan work underway now or else millions of Americans will wait months longer for the vaccine.”

The Trump administration has said the U.S. is on track to vaccinate the country’s entire population of about 330 million by the middle of next year. It has not provided monthly estimates.

The president-elect also used the event to urge people to wear a mask, reiterating his request that Americans wear a facial covering for at least 100 days to slow the spread of the disease.

“This goes beyond government action and so, as a new president, I’m going to speak directly to the American people and say what I’m saying now: We need your help. Wear masks for just 100 days,” he said.

Biden said he will require masks in federal buildings and on planes, trains and buses for interstate travel.

He also discussed the importance of resuming in-person classes for children, calling it a “national priority” to “get our kids back into school and keep them in school.”

School districts across the country have been moving to online education as COVID-19 cases soar, but experts warn schools are not large sources of virus spread and students are falling behind in their learning.

Biden said he consulted Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on his administration’s response plan.

“My first 100 days won’t end the COVID-19 virus. I can’t promise that,” Biden said. “But we did not get in this mess quickly. We’re not going to get out of it quickly.”

Biden described his team of nominees and appointees as “world-class experts, “defined by a deep sense of honor, duty and patriotism” who will help the U.S. get a handle on COVID-19 as quickly as possible.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will serve as the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) if confirmed by the Senate. Becerra has been an ardent defender of the Affordable Care Act over the past four years, defending the 2010 health care law in court against efforts by Republicans and President Trump to overturn it.

He has also led a slew of other lawsuits targeting the Trump administration’s health policy actions. Becerra served as a Democratic congressman representing California starting in 1993 before leaving at the start of Trump’s term to become the state’s attorney general.

Senate Republicans have already indicated their opposition to Becerra to lead one of the government’s largest agencies, noting his lack of experience in the health care sector. The current HHS secretary, nominated by Trump, was a former pharmaceutical executive and previously served in the George W. Bush administration.

Still, Becerra worked on health care issues as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee when he was in Congress.

Biden also introduced Rochelle Walensky as his director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.

Walensky is the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and renowned for her work on HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.

Biden nominated former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to return to the role he held during the Obama administration, pending Senate confirmation, and named several other health experts as advisers on his COVID-19 response.

Biden’s picks for other top health positions have yet to be announced, including the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that will decide whether to authorize certain COVID-19 vaccines.

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccine Donald Trump FDA Joe Biden Masks Pandemic Rochelle Walensky Vivek Murthy Xavier Becerra

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