President Joe Biden will sign a series of executive orders and take other actions Thursday intended to dramatically expand vaccine production and distribution – to push forward his goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office.
The actions and orders are the beginning of an effort to revamp the administration’s policy to push out the vaccine, with 400,000 Americans already having succumbed to COVID-19, and new mutations already spreading in the country.
Fauci: US to repeal anti-abortion rule on aid and join Covax vaccine scheme https://t.co/8qNKfJGP3W— The Guardian (@guardian) January 21, 2021
With supply falling well short of demand and many Americans ignoring guidance to avoid travel and social contacts, the Biden team wants to establish new vaccination centers in sports stadiums, gyms, and conference centers.
‘First we’re going to create as many places as possible for people to be vaccinated,’ said Bechara Choucair, the new vaccine coordinator, on a call with reporters Wednesday.
The immediate goal is to stand up 100 new vaccination centers in a month, following reports of difficulties of getting vaccines out the door in many states, and the U.S. vaccination rate lagging other countries despite the two major vaccines already in distribution here.
Additional efforts will push vaccines into pharmacies, and expand deployments from the Public Health Service.
The push for 100 million would still fall short of what many experts say is needed to achieve ‘herd immunity,’ but the administration believes it will greatly slow the spread and start to bring infections down.
‘It’s an ambitious but achievable goal … but just the start,’ said Jeffrey Zients, Biden’s new COVID czar on a press call Wednesday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says President Joe Biden will order the United States to support projects to deploy COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to people in need around the world. https://t.co/gkXDmHJ3CU— The Associated Press (@AP) January 21, 2021
One order would direct agencies to ‘exercise all appropriate authorities’ – including the Defense Production Act – ‘to accelerate manufacturing, delivery, and administration to meet shortfalls in equipment and supplies needed for the COVID-19 response.’
Another would boost FEMA reimbursement rates for assisting states with their response. Another order aims to expanding testing supply and boost access to testing – with an aim toward getting people back to work and reopening schools.
Still another would seek to ensure drug studies ‘address the needs of diverse populations.’ Larger studies already seek to examine the effects on different minority groups. Some localities have already experienced disparities in communities that are getting the vaccine.
An executive order to the Education and Health and Services Departments will direct them to provide guidance on reopening schools ‘so state and local officials have metrics to inform decision-making.’ The administration wants a majority of schools open in 100 days.
A new testing board will be tasked with developing a ‘clear, unified approach’ to testing.
The administration is also planning to provide more information to the public, with regular briefings from public health officials, after the Trump Administration first rolled out and then pulled back coronavirus task force briefings. Zients said the team he is overseeing will seek to restore trust with the American people.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.