President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 response plan includes push for masks nationwide

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WILMINGTON, Delaware (WATE) – President-Elect Joe Biden warned the U.S is “still facing a dark winter ahead’ as he pleaded with Americans to wear a mask.

“Maybe we’ll save the life of the person who stocks the shelf at your local grocery store. Maybe it saves the life of a member of your place of worship. Maybe it saves the life of your child’s teacher. Maybe it saves your life,” Biden said. “So please, I implore you, wear a mask.”

Biden spoke on his plans for combatting the virus following a briefing with the new members of a COVID-19 task force, noting that infection rates, deaths and hospitalizations are increasing across the nation.

“A mask is not a political statement, but it is a good way to start pulling the country together,” the president-elect said.

Biden’s plan to combat COVID-19 was unveiled with a new transition website Sunday. Here is a breakdown of the plan:

  • Implement mask mandates nationwide by working with governors and mayors and by asking the American people to do what they do best: step up in a time of crisis.

Biden plans to continue his plea for every American to wear a mask when they are around people outside their household. The response plan calls for asking every governor to make masks mandatory in their state, and for local authorities to make mask wearing mandatory in order to reinforce the state orders.

  • Ensure all Americans have access to regular, reliable, and free testing.

Doubling the number of drive-thru testing sites, investing in at-home testing and instant tests as a means to increase testing capacity, creating a Pandemic Testing Board to produce and distribute tests, and establishing a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corp to mobilize 100,000 Americans to assist in testing and contact tracing.

  • Fix personal protective equipment (PPE) problems for good.

Biden plans to expand the use of the Defense Production Act that was reactivated by the Trump administration so that the “national supply of personal protective gear exceeds demand…”

  • Provide clear, consistent, evidence-based guidance for how communities should navigate the pandemic – and the resources for schools, small businesses, and families to make it through.

Biden plans to ask the Centers for Disease Control for specific, evidence-based guidance for social distancing. The plan refers to making decisions about closings, gatherings, stay-at-home orders and spacing on a “dial” rather than a “light switch.” Also planned is a renewable fund for state and local governments to help with budget shortfalls, and a couple emergency packages to ensure schools have the resources they need to prevent the spread of the virus and small businesses have funding for supplies such as plexiglass and PPE.

  • Plan for the effective, equitable distribution of treatments and vaccines — because development isn’t enough if they aren’t effectively distributed.

Americans of all socioeconomic status will receive a cost-free vaccine under the Biden plan. Scientists will be in charge of “all decisions on safety and efficacy” of any vaccine under the Biden plan, and the administration vows to release publicly clinical data.

  • Protect older Americans and others at high risk

Americans would be able to check active cases of the virus using zip codes, in real-time that the Biden team hopes will help “older Americans and others at high risk, understand what level of precaution to take.” The plan also calls for a task force to provide recommendations and oversight on “disparities in the public health and economic response” that will become a permanent task force once the pandemic has passed.

  • Rebuild and expand defenses to predict, prevent, and mitigate pandemic threats, including those coming from China

Plans call for the immediate restoration of the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, restore the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization. In the works is also the re-launch of a pathogen-tracking program called PREDICT, and expanding the deployment of the CDC’s disease detectives while rebuilding that office in Beijing.

Finally, the Biden plan calls for protecting those who suffer long-term effects of COVID-19 from higher premiums or denial of health insurance due to preexisting conditions.

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