How Biden plans to change the response to the U.S. Covid-19 pandemic

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“The pandemic is becoming increasingly worrisome across the country,” Biden said on Friday. “I want everyone to know from day one we are going to put our plan to fight this virus into action.

There were an extremely high number of new cases last week, and by the time Biden takes office on January 20, the influential University of Washington Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation predicts he will there will be more than 372,000 deaths linked to Covid-19, or 135,000 more than the current total.

“By the time the Biden-Harris administration takes over, this virus will already be endemic in communities across the United States,” Brown University emergency physician Dr. Megan Ranney told CNN on Sunday.

On Monday, Biden is expected to announce the names of the dozen leaders who will be part of his coronavirus task force. CNN announced on Saturday that it will be headed by former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy, former commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, Dr. David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith of the Yale University.

That doesn’t mean Trump’s White House coronavirus task force will turn off the lights.

Dr Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told CNN on Sunday that it was critically important that Trump’s and Biden’s respective coronavirus task forces work together.

“First and foremost, I think we should demand that there is cooperation,” Jha said.

Here are five ways Biden says the US response to the coronavirus will change when he is president.

Increase in testing and contact tracing

Number one on Biden’s list of promises is more testing and contact tracing.

Testing has intensified dramatically since the early days of the pandemic, but scientists say the nation needs tens of millions of tests a day to keep the country safe and open, and even 10 months after the pandemic started, there still isn’t enough.

Without testing, scientists cannot have a clear idea of ​​where the virus takes off. With up to 40% of Covid-19 cases estimated to be asymptomatic, a rapid test result is essential to stop the spread of the disease. And research has found that around 75% of infected contacts need to be quarantined to stop the spread.

Biden promises that all Americans will have access to “regular, reliable and free testing.”

They say they will double down on drive-thru test sites, invest in new technology and create a US Public Health Jobs Corps that mobilizes “at least 100,000” culturally competent contact tracers.

Biden says he would also borrow a page from the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and create something akin to the War Production Board, which helped oversee the conversion of peacetime factories to equipment manufacturing factories. and military weapons. According to Biden, a pandemic testing board would help produce and distribute tens of millions of tests.

Additional investment in vaccines and treatments

Since March, the Trump administration has spent billions to develop and scale up Covid-19 vaccines and treatments through Operation Warp Speed. Its goal is to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines by January 2021. Several potential vaccines are undergoing large-scale trials.

States filed their vaccine distribution plans with the CDC a few weeks ago. But they have received no funding from Congress to begin building the infrastructure they will need to distribute these vaccines to tens of millions of people.

Biden is pledging to invest an additional $ 25 billion to make and distribute vaccines free to everyone in the United States.

They say politics will play no role in the approval of a vaccine and that the new administration will make the clinical data of any approved vaccine public.

The Biden campaign also promised that therapies and medications would be affordable.

Mandatory masks and more PPE

Biden said he would work with local governors and mayors to mandate the masks in public. An October modeling study showed that if 95% of Americans wore masks, more than 100,000 lives could be saved from Covid-19.

Biden’s team also says it will tackle issues of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

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Several studies have shown that there has been a severe shortage of personal protective equipment since early 2020, and some shortages have worsened, according to a September analysis by the American Hospital Association.

Often, medical and nursing personnel have had to reuse gloves, masks and other protective equipment at their own risk. The National Nurses United union estimates that more than 1,700 healthcare workers have died in the pandemic. Between March and May, 6% of all patients hospitalized with Covid-19 were healthcare workers, according to an October CDC report.

While the Trump administration has claimed to use the Defense Production Act to step up production of PPE, a non-partisan analysis in September found it rarely did.

Biden said he would use this power to ensure that national supply stocks are fully replenished. He also pledged to help create products of American origin so that the United States is not dependent on other countries.

In addition to encouraging Congress to pass an emergency package to help schools pay for pandemic supplies, the Biden administration would create a “restart package” to help small businesses pay for protective gear and plexiglass.

An effort for “clear, coherent and evidence-based guidance”

Biden plans executive actions that would reverse Trump's policies

The Biden administration also said it would encourage the CDC to take a more active role in providing specific advice to communities on when they should close. Trump’s critics say the agency has been sidelined in favor of reopening the economy.

Biden’s team said they would create a national pandemic dashboard so people can assess for themselves, in real time, the amount of disease in their zip code. This level of data has been difficult to find.

Biden would also create a Covid-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force that would become a standing post-pandemic Racial Disease Infectious Disease Task Force, which would tackle issues of disparities in the public health system. Black, Hispanic, and Native American communities had significantly higher rates of infection and hospitalization.

Join the WHO and research future threats

The Trump administration officially began the process of withdrawing from the World Health Organization in July. Biden says he would restore America’s relationship with the WHO.

The Biden administration also said it plans to expand the ranks of the CDC, so its disease detectives can spot future threats. The Trump administration had cut some of those jobs, including in the Chinese office.

Under the Trump administration, PREDICT, the pathogen tracking program that searches for future disease threats such as the coronavirus, has ended. Biden said he would revive him.

Biden also said he would re-establish leadership of the White House National Security Council for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which the Trump administration incorporated into another organization in 2018. It was created by the administration Obama in 2016 to help manage threats like Ebola.

CNN’s Maggie Fox, Lauren Mascarenhas, Leanna Faulk, Dan Merica and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.

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