Joe Biden's plan aims to break Covid-19 pandemic cycle

Vaccines and masks: Joe Biden's plan aims to break Covid-19 pandemic cycle

Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks

President-elect Joe Biden. Credit: Reuters Photo

A coronavirus action plan being unveiled by President-elect Joe Biden centres on a mass vaccination campaign and closer coordination among all levels of government.

The Biden plan comes as a divided nation remains caught in the grip of the pandemic's most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 3,80,000 Americans have died.

Biden hopes his multidimensional strategy, expected to be detailed in a Thursday evening speech, will put the country on the path to recovery by the end of his first 100 days. “It's going to be hard,” Biden said Monday after he got his second vaccine shot.

“It's not going to be easy. But we can get it done.” A more disciplined focus on vaccination is the new and widely anticipated game-changing element, but that's far from the whole story.

Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practising social distancing, and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. That's still the surest way to brake the Covid-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported just on Tuesday.

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Biden has also talked about asking Congress to pump more money to states, to help their efforts to contain the pandemic and replenish depleted coffers that pay for basic services. And Democratic lawmakers are eager to push for $2,000 economic stimulus payments to Americans.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the Biden Covid-19 package will be the first order of business this year.

But Biden's biggest challenge is to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration has delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way.

Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation's vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 10.3 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 29 million doses have been delivered.

Biden aims to speed that up by delivering more vaccine and working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but largely left it up to state and local officials to organize their vaccination campaigns.