NEWS

President-Elect Biden Outlines Expanded COVID-19 Relief Plans

Joe Biden at podium putting on mask

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Key Takeaways

  • COVID-19 relief proposals from President-Elect Biden include expanded delivery and administration of vaccines, investment in testing and treatment, and more critical supplies. 
  • Biden will share more specifics on his plan for expanded access to COVID-19 vaccines in a subsequent briefing.  

Calling the current COVID-19 vaccination rollout a “dismal failure,” President-elect Joe Biden outlined his plans toward getting the virus under control in remarks on Thursday, January 14. His proposal calls on Congress to fund $400 billion on COVID-related projects.

Under what he is calling the American Rescue Plan, Biden’s federal COVID-19 efforts will include: 

  • A national vaccination program
  • Community vaccination sites nationwide
  • Scaling up testing and tracing
  • Eliminating supply shortage problems
  • Investing in high-quality treatments
  • Providing paid sick leave to contain spread of the virus

Vaccines

“Americans are waiting to get their vaccines even while doses are sitting on shelves,” Biden said, proposing $20 billion be devoted to a national vaccination program.

The program will involve developing community vaccination centers around the country and deploying mobile vaccination units. Vaccinations will be available regardless of immigration status and provided without shared costs. 

Biden said his administration will “lay out our vaccination plan to correct course and meet our goal of 100 million shots by the end of our first 100 days” on Friday, January 15. 

“We will move Heaven and Earth to get more people vaccinated, to create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams to get shots in peoples’ arms, and to increase vaccine supply and get it out the door as fast as possible,” Biden said. 

Testing

The President-elect’s plan allocates $50 billion to help schools and local governments implement testing protocols, which will rely on more rapid tests.

“Expanded testing will ensure that schools can implement regular testing to support safe reopening, that vulnerable settings like prisons and long-term care facilities can regularly test their populations, and that any American can get a test for free when they need one,” Biden said.

The proposal also includes funding for 100,000 new public health workers to do vaccine outreach and contact tracing.

Treatment

The proposal expands investment in development, manufacturing, and purchase of therapies to ensure wide availability and affordability of effective COVID-19 treatments. It would also fund studies of the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 and potential treatments for long-haulers.

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Research on New Viral Strains

Funding will also be used to identify and address emerging strains of COVID-19. “We simply do not have the kind of robust surveillance capabilities that we need to track outbreaks and mutations,” Biden said. “Tracking the way the virus is changing and moving through the population is essential to understanding outbreaks, generating treatments and vaccines, and controlling the pandemic.” 

Biden plans to increase genetic sequencing, surveillance, and outbreak analytics capacity.

PPE

Biden’s proposal adds $30 billion to the Disaster Relief Fund to ensure sufficient supplies and protective gear. It outlines a plan to provide federal reimbursement for emergency response resources to states, local governments, and Tribes, as well as $10 billion to expand U.S. manufacturing for pandemic supplies. 

School Safety

The President-elect is also asking for funding to help schools reopen safely by:

  • Reducing class sizes
  • Modifying spaces so students and teachers can socially distance
  • Improving ventilation
  • Hiring more custodians and nurses
  • Providing personal protective equipment
  • Increasing transportation capacity to facilitate social distancing on school buses
  • Hiring counselors to support students as they transition back to their classrooms

What Happens Next?

The proposals require Congressional approval. Congress reconvenes on January 19 and is expected to deliberate on the legislation shortly after.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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  1. C-Span. President-elect Biden on $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Proposal. January 14, 2021.