Many of us across the U.S. had cause to celebrate the announcement of Joe Biden as President-elect on Saturday. Unlike his opponent, Biden has vowed to confront, rather than deny, the pressing challenges our country faces, including the coronavirus. The U.S. has now exceeded 10 million cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, and at least 237,742 people across the nation have died of the disease at the time of publication. Biden outlined his plan to get a handle on the pandemic on the Biden-Harris transition website on Sunday, and today, his transition team unveiled the members of his coronavirus advisory board.
Here’s a breakdown of Biden’s post-Trump pandemic plan, which he aims to start executing in January.
Ramp up testing
Scientists warn that we’re still far short of the tens of millions of daily tests needed to keep the U.S. open safely, CNN reports. To expand testing capacity, Biden plans to double the number of drive-through testing facilities, invest in next-generation testing, and “mobilize at least 100,000” people in the U.S. to work as culturally competent contract tracers. He also wants to take a cue from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s War Production Board — which turned existing factories into military equipment plants — to increase the production and distribution of COVID-19 tests.
Mandate masks and ensure a constant supply of personal protective equipment (PPE)
Biden plans to work with mayors and governors to make wearing masks mandatory in public places. He also promises to employ the Defense Production Act to expand PPE production so that the national supply “exceeds demand,” especially in areas with at-risk populations, and to develop U.S.-sourced PPE so that we won’t need to rely on other countries for these crucial supplies.
Invest in vaccines and treatments, and ensure their “effective, equitable distribution”
Biden says he will invest $25 billion in a plan that gets COVID-19 vaccines to everyone in the U.S. for free, and guarantees that treatments will remain affordable. He also vows that science, not politics, will dictate whether a vaccine is safe and effective. Career scientific staff will have the authority to write up a report for the public and speak before Congress uncensored.
“Clear, consistent, evidence-based guidance” for communities
“Social distancing is not a light switch,” the Biden-Harris transition website says. “It is a dial.” Under Biden’s plan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would outline evidence-based guidance for adjusting this dial, specific to a community’s risk level, including when to open schools and businesses. The administration would also set up funds for state and local governments, as well as small businesses.
Protect high-risk groups
Per Vice President-elect Harris’ suggestion, Biden promises to set up a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force, given the pandemic’s disproportionate toll on Black and brown communities. He would also create a Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard that allows people to track transmission in their zip codes in real time.
Take a more proactive approach to pandemic threats
Biden plans to restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, established under the Obama-Biden administration, which the Trump administration disbanded, re-assigning some team members to roles that involved responding to the pandemic, according to Reuters.
Biden will also relaunch the pathogen-tracking program PREDICT and expand the number of the CDC’s “disease detectives” around the world. In a reversal of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization, Biden also pledges to “restore our relationship” with it.