2020 becomes deadliest year in U.S. history, CDC finds
According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. continues to lead the world in overall cases — 24.4 million — and deaths, with more than 406,000.
Early in his Oval Office tenure, President Joe Biden is putting forth a national COVID-19 strategy to ramp up vaccinations and testing, reopen schools and businesses and increase the use of masks, including a requirement that they be worn for travel.
The administration is also depending on Congress to provide $1.9 trillion for economic relief and COVID-19 response.
Biden’s top medical adviser on COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, also announced renewed U.S. support for the World Health Organization after it faced blistering criticism from the Trump administration, laying out new commitments to tackle the coronavirus and other global health issues.
Fauci said early Thursday the U.S. will join the U.N. health agency’s efforts to bring vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to people in need, whether in rich or poor countries and will resume full funding and staffing support for WHO.
Biden also is seeking to expand testing and vaccine availability, with the goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office.
Biden announces members of COVID-19 task force
The Democratic president has directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin setting up vaccination centers, aiming to have 100 up and running in a month. He’s ordering the CDC to begin a program to make vaccines available through local pharmacies starting next month. And he’s mobilizing the Public Health Service to deploy to assist localities in vaccinations.
Biden has set a goal of having most K-8 schools reopen in his first 100 days, and he’s ordering the departments of Education and Health and Human Services to provide clear guidance for reopening schools safely.
On Wednesday, the CDC also said about half of the 31 million doses distributed to the states by the federal government have been administered so far. Only about 2 million people have received the two doses needed for maximum protection against the virus.