Joe Biden implements 'war strategy' against COVID-19

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Sophie-Hélène Lebeuf (access the author's page)

On the first full day of his term, US President Joe Biden tackled his new administration's most urgent priority, the coronavirus pandemic, announcing a national strategy and passing a dozen executive orders.

The new president signaled a change of course from his predecessor, which downplayed the risks of COVID-19 and left much of the responsibility for managing the crisis that has claimed more than 400,000 lives to states.

Joe Biden underlined the scale of the challenge and compared the actions to take to a wartime business.

From the Oval Office, he summarized the outline of an ambitious plan, which includes seven big goals detailed over 200 pages.

Among them: carrying out more screening tests, speeding up the vaccination campaign, increasing the production of equipment needed to achieve this and providing financial support to states.

One of the decrees requires the mask to be worn at airports and on certain modes of public transport, including many trains, planes, ships and intercity coaches.

In particular, Biden recalled that the goal is to administer 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in its first 100 days, by the end of April, and lamented the dismal failure of the implementation of vaccination so far.

In front of journalists, he signed several decrees contained in his action plan, ranging from the distribution of vaccines to wearing masks in transport, aid to states and the reopening of schools.

The new federal strategy also includes the decision toinitiate diplomatic representations to the governments of Canada and Mexico regarding public health protocols for land entry points.

It must also go through the $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package, the outline of which was unveiled last week and which will require congressional approval.

Determined to mark a difference from his predecessor from the outset, the 46th American president signed the day before, just hours after his swearing in, a decree to make it compulsory to wear a mask in federal buildings.

Donald Trump had only endorsed the wearing of the mask, far from promoting it.

The new president also signed an executive order on Wednesday confirming the reintegration of the United States into the World Health Organization (WHO). Mr. Trump had slammed the organization's door last year after accusing it of lacking independence from China.

The return of science, the relief of Dr Fauci

Dr Fauci smiles.

Dr Anthony Fauci played a leading role in the second press conference given by White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Photo: Reuters / JONATHAN ERNST

In a not even veiled tip targeting his predecessor, Joe Biden further assured that his administration would refrain from any political interference in the work of scientists responsible for responding to the pandemic.

We will make sure that they work without political interference and that they make decisions strictly based on science and health care – science and health only – and not on political consequences.

Joe Biden, President of the United States

<q data-attributes = '{"lang": {"value": "fr", "label": "Français"}, "value": {"html": "This is what you will hear about more often DrFauci "," text ":" This is why you are going to hear Dr Fauci speak more often "}} 'lang =" en”>That’s why you’ll hear Dr. Fauci talk more often, he added with reference to White House immunologist Anthony Fauci, whose credibility has often been attacked by Donald Trump.

Dr Fauci, whom President Biden has also made his main adviser on COVID-19, also kicked off the press conference made shortly after by the White House spokeswoman, Jen Psaki.

Asked about the importance given to science by the new president, he did not try to hide his relief.

The idea of ​​being able to come here and talk about what you know – the evidence, what science is – and knowing that you can let science do the talking brings a bit of a sense of liberation.

Anthony Fauci, Chief White House Epidemiologist

It is very clear that some of President Trump's claims put scientists in a position really uncomfortable, because they were not not based on scientific facts, he admitted, referring to his statements on hydroxychloroquine.

Donald Trump had repeatedly praised this treatment usually used against malaria, because he believed that it could revolutionize the fight against the coronavirus. His optimistic predictions had prompted warnings from several experts.

I can tell you that I take no pleasure in being in a situation where I contradict the president, explained Dr Fauci, referring to the repercussions that a rectification was likely to result.

In May 2020, the former director of the government agency responsible for the development of treatments against the coronavirus had claimed to have been demoted after expressing concerns about hydroxychloroquine.

A science-based plan

For almost a year, Americans couldn't find any strategy let alone a comprehensive approach to dealing with COVID with the federal government. All this will change, summarized Wednesday in a technical briefing session Jeff Zients, who coordinates the White House response to the pandemic.

The federal government must be a source of truth to the public and provide clear, accessible and scientifically accurate information about COVID-19.

Jeff Zients, COVID-19 Coordinator

Lack of cooperation from the Trump administration has been an obstacle in the fight against COVID-19, also said Mr. Zients, who was confirmed in office Wednesday afternoon by a presidential decree signed by Mr. Biden.

According to two CNN sources, the Trump administration has left no federal plan worthy of the name for the new presidential team. There is nothing to rework. We have to start over, said one. This proves total incompetence of the previous administration, said the other.

A lack of material

Pedestrians in New York.

Pedestrians wear protective masks in Times Square, New York.

Photo: Associated Press / Frank Franklin II

The Biden administration says it has spotted 12 items that are in insufficient quantity to fight the pandemic. These include N95 surgical masks, protective gowns, as well as swabs, reagents and pipettes for testing.

The administration spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the administration is determined to use the Defense Production Act to increase inventories. This law allows the federal government to force companies to produce certain items as a priority in the name of the protection of the country. Mr. Trump had invoked it.

Where we can produce more, we will. And if we have to resort to the Defense Production Act, we will toosaid Biden's supply chain manager, Tim Manning.

The administration's plan also calls for a better offer of screening tests, especially for people who are asymptomatic but still susceptible to transmitting COVID-19.

When it comes to screening for asymptomatic people, we are sorely under capacity, so we need the money to increase the number of tests, which are so important in reopening schools and businesses. (…) We need money from Congress to finance the strategy that the president is going to present.

Jeff Zients, COVID-19 Coordinator

The Biden administration also intends to order the departments of Education and Health and Human Services to establish guidelines for the safe reopening of daycares, elementary and secondary schools and higher education institutions.

Mr Biden wants the majority of schools across the country to reopen within 100 days of taking office.

The federal agency responsible for occupational health and safety will also have to present guidelines for employers.

A working group must also be created to address the disproportionate consequences of COVID-19 on racialized groups. According to its leader, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the group will have to make recommendations to eliminate any inequity between Americans.

With the collaboration of François Messier

Read also :

  • President Biden puts on his boots and gets to work
  • Joe Biden's choices for his future administration
  • Will Joe Biden be able to safely defuse Donald Trump's legacy?
With information from Washington post, New York Daily News, TOP NEWS TODAY, and CNN


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