Just days after being declared victors in the US election, future President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris have already put forward their plan on how they are going to combat the coronavirus pandemic. And, along with their plan, the campaign unveiled a special board earlier this month made up by a group of health experts and scientists that they would consult with about the virus.
The plan discusses the steps the President-elect would take to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the most important points:
Put the focus back on the experts
The Biden-Harris campaign proposes to “ensure that public health decisions are made by public health professionals and not politicians” to avoid misinformation. The shift to health professionals also provides the freedom and protection from retribution for doing their jobs.
The campaign has created a special coronavirus board full of experts that will advise them on what to stop the spread of the virus. Biden has already said he stands with the experts’ recommendations, and urged everyone last week to wear a mask when out in public.
Finally, they propose the restoration of the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was created during the Obama administration and shut down by Trump in 2018.
Higher and more accessible testing
The first thing on Biden-Harris’ list is to make testing available for all at no cost, regardless of immigration status, as well as “establishing at least ten mobile testing sites and drive-through facilities per state.”
Whereas the Trump administration stripped the Centers for Control and Disease Prevention (CDC) of control of the coronavirus data, the Biden-Harris administration is giving the CDC a bigger role in informing people about the virus and keeping hospitalization and infection count up to date. They are also pushing for daily White House briefings on the number of tests and active cases around the country. They
Taking care of the health workers
The Biden-Harris campaign proposes standing up “multi-hundred-bed temporary hospitals in any city on short notice” and working with Governors to deploy National Guard and military personnel to help with the epidemic. Additionally, they want to expand “tele-emergency rooms, tele-ICU care, and telemedicine” to help keep health workers safe and to avoid overcrowding at hospitals.
They also want the CDC to establish “real-time dashboards tracking” of hospital admissions related to COVID-19 and coordinate information about what essential equipment and personal protective equipment is needed for health workers.
Biden-Harris wants to give all frontline workers “high-quality and appropriate personal protective equipment,” including food workers, first responders and health workers. They also promise to ensure first responders, including local fire departments and Emergency Medical Services have sufficient staff to carry out their duties. They would also provide overtime reimbursements for health workers, first responders, and other essential workers.
Preventing Covid-19 transmission in everyday life
When it comes to school, the campaign will instruct the CDC to provide “clear, stepwise guidance” and information to local school districts about the best way to function while creating a safe environment for their students.
They will also work with the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that health departments and health providers across the country “give every person access to an advice line or interactive online advice so they can make an informed decision about whether to seek care or to stay at home.”
They also propose expanding hiring services with federal government money to caregivers in nursing homes, drivers, childcare workers, substitute teachers, and others.
Make it affordable for everybody
The Biden-Harris campaign promises to ensure that “every person, whether insured or uninsured, will not have to pay a dollar out-of-pocket for visits related to COVID-19 testing, treatment, preventative services, and any eventual vaccine.”
Instead, they pledge to use the funding of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to reimburse health care providers for COVID-19-related treatment costs not directly covered by health insurance. For immigrants, they propose ending the Public Charge Rule so that no person, regardless of their immigration status, so that immigrants don’t fear accessing critical federal or state help.
For those who have to take care of a family member or a loved one, the campaign is proposing guaranteed emergency paid sick leave and care-giving leave. They will also give federal workers access to workers’ compensation and encourage states to do the same for state workers.
As for unemployment, they will make Unemployment Benefits (UI) available to those who lost their jobs in the informal sector who would be denied benefits in a normal situation (as opposed to a pandemic) like chauffeurs, housekeepers, babysitters, nannies and caregivers. They also propose one more round of stimulus checks, expand small and medium business loans, as well as offering further help to those families on welfare.
To be able to achieve this, they propose the following money distribution: 45% to state governments; 45% to local governments; and 10% reserved for special assistance for “hot-spots” of community spread.
Finally, they want the U.S. Department of Justice to combate price gouging for critical supplies so that nobody has to spend more than they need to while fighting the pandemic.