Citizens of the US can expect a national mask policy, increase in Covid-19 testing sites, and the possibility of a nationwide lockdown once President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. The Biden-Harris campaign laid out a step-by-step plan for addressing the pandemic which includes a detailed list of new policies, protections, and processes that will help frontline workers and the American people curb the spread and hopefully minimize the amount of new cases/hospitalizations.
The campaign also announced its own specific Covid-19 advisory board co-chaired by former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine. The timing of this transition of power couldn’t have come at a better time, as the US has surpassed 100,000 new Covid-19 cases a day all last week, projecting a very difficult winter for the nation.
While potential vaccines around the world are showing great promise in their ability to combat and protect against Covid-19, the process and time it will take to widely distribute those vaccines is too uncertain not to start making changes now. Biden has also said he would be listening to scientists like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who current President Trump has demonized throughout the pandemic.
“I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives. In order to keep the country running and moving and the economy growing, and people employed, you have to fix the virus. I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists.”
Up until now the Trump administration has allowed state governments to decide whether or not they wanted to shut down, reopen, impose mask requirements, and purchase their own testing materials and personal protective gear. This has led to America being one of the most infected countries in the world that has seen little to no improvement in terms of case numbers and deaths dropping. As of today there have been over 10 million cases and 238,000 deaths in the US.
Biden’s plan will call for a coordinated national strategy that would use the Defense Protection Act to actually ensure the US has all the proper healthcare equipment it needs to handle the rest of this pandemic. Testing sites will also likely double throughout the county, and at-home testing will be made more widely available. Biden also claims that he would establish a US public health job corps to “mobilize at least 100,000 Americans across the country to support contact tracing efforts, which has largely been left for the states to arrange, and assist populations at higher risk.”
It’s unclear how it will be executed, but Biden will likely also call for a national mask requirement in all public settings/spaces. It will likely start with masks being required in all federal buildings and interstate transportation systems. The CDC will also be directed to provide communities with all the evidence-based guidance they have for combatting the virus. The CDC will also have more of a say in terms of school and business reopenings, as well as stay-at-home orders nationwide. Dr. Howard Koh is a professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the former assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration who recently spoke with the press about how hopeful he was for the future of this pandemic under the Biden administration.
“I would expect that under President Biden, he would reinstitute regular briefings with Fauci, galvanized by the White House, but empowering the top scientists to convey their knowledge and guidance on behalf of the American people.”
Biden will also repair the damaged relationship that’s been created between the US and the World Health Organization. His administration hopes that the American people will see this pandemic is not political, and every move and decision that will be made will be based on science and with the greater interest of the American people’s health and safety at heart.
Experts also expect that by the time Biden takes office there will likely be initial doses of a coronavirus vaccine made available to priority populations like health-care workers. The initial plan there would involve how to distribute and manage the administering of the vaccine when it first appears, so for now America will have to continue to wait as these policies and treatments come to life.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.