WASHINGTON, Dec 9: US President-elect Joe Biden has said that in the first 100 days of his administration, he would mandate everyone to wear a mask, ensure 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations and reopen the majority of schools as he assured Americans that his "crisis-tested" team of experts will deliver better healthcare and revive the economy.
The US is in the midst of a deadly pandemic that has infected almost 15 million Americans and killed 286,000. Globally, there are 68.2 million COVID-19 cases and the pandemic has claimed more than 1.5 million lives.
Announcing his national health team, Biden asked the Trump administration to act now to purchase the doses it has negotiated with Pfizer and Moderna and to work swiftly to scale manufacturing for the US population and the world.
"This can be fixed. If it does, my team will be able to get at least 100 million vaccinations done in my first 100 days. Third, it should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school," he said on Tuesday.
"If Congress provides the funding we need to protect students, educators, and staff, and if states and cities put strong public health measures in place that we all follow, then my team will work to see that the majority of our schools can be opened by the end of my first 100 days. That's right, we will look to have most of the schools open in 100 days if Congress provides the funding we need," he added.
He said masking, vaccinations and reopening school were three key goals for his first 100 days.
"But we will still have much to do in the year ahead. And sadly, much difficulty, too. We will be far, far from done. Yet, it is possible that after 100 days, we will be much further along in the fight against the pandemic," Biden said.
Biden named Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Indian-American Dr Vivek Murthy as his Surgeon General. He named Dr Anthony Fauci as Chief Medical Adviser to the President on COVID-19, while Dr Rochelle Walensky has been named as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith as COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair.
"It's a team of world-class experts at the top of their fields. Crisis-tested. Defined by a deep sense of duty, honour, and patriotism. They are ready on Day One to spare no effort and get the pandemic under control, so we can get back to work, back to our lives, and back to our loved ones," he said.
"They will lead the COVID-19 response across our government to accelerate testing, fix our supply chain, and distribute the vaccine. They will work with my economic team because controlling the pandemic, delivering better health care, and reviving the economy go hand in hand. They will work with my foreign policy and national security team because we can only beat this virus if we beat it everywhere," Biden said.
Biden announced that in consultation with Dr Fauci, his team has developed the first three objectives and new initiatives that he is asking them to complete during his first 100 days in office.
"My first 100 days won't end COVID-19. I cannot promise that. We did not get into this mess quickly, and it's going to take time to fix. But I am convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better," he said.
"First, my-100 day masking plan. It starts with my signing an order on Day One to require masks where I can like federal buildings and interstate travel on planes, trains, and buses," he said.
"Second, this team will help get at least 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into the arms of Americans in 100 days. We will follow the guidance of scientists and get vaccines to those most at-risk. That includes health care personnel and people in long-term care; and, as soon as possible, that will include educators," he said.
Biden said it will be the most efficient mass vaccination plan in US history.
"I credit everyone who has gotten us to this point, but developing the vaccine is one herculean task. Distributing it is another. And vaccines in a vial only work if they are injected into the arms of people, especially those most at risk," said the president-elect.
"We are going to require masks wherever possible, but this goes beyond government action. And so, as a new President, I'm going to speak directly to the American people. We need your help. Wear a mask for 100 days," Biden said. - PTI