President Joe Biden’s nominee for the head of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, has admitted that the coronavirus pandemic situation in the U.S. is worsening. In an interview with CNN, Becerra noted that there should be strong leadership at the federal level to tackle the issue.
“The plane is in a nosedive. And we’ve got to pull it up… And you’re not going to do that overnight. But we’re going to pull it up. We have to pull it up. Failure is not an option… First you have to rescue people, you have to rescue the economy… Biden made it clear: it won’t happen overnight… We can’t just tell the states, ‘Here’s some PPE, some masks, here’s some vaccines, now go do it,’” Becerra said in the interview.
He added that if the administration can ensure that people follow Biden’s order to wear masks while on federal property and during interstate travel, “we’re going to get control of this thing.”
Becerra’s statements were made in response to Biden’s earlier remark that he can’t do anything to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the coming few months. This had attracted some criticism. However, Biden’s supporters argued that the president was only being direct and honest about what can be done, thus tempering the public’s expectations.
“The fundamental difference between the Biden approach and the Trump approach is that we’re going to take responsibility at the federal government. We’re going to own this problem. We’re going to work closely with the states. They are our key partners in getting this done. But we’re also going to do the work ourselves,” he said on an NBC program.
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Biden has promised to get 100 million Americans vaccinated in the first 100 days of his term, something that Klain says is “bold and ambitious.” Over 41 million vaccines have already been sent to various states, of which 20 million have been administered to the people.
Klain also said that the administration is going to open federal vaccination centers to help states achieve their vaccination targets while also working together with manufacturers to boost the production of vaccines. Biden has announced that he will set up 100 federal vaccine sites in community centers, school gyms, and stadiums.
Political commentator Betsy McCaughey maintains that the U.S. must vaccinate 1.8 million people per day to attain herd immunity by July. This is far higher than Biden’s goal of getting 1 million people vaccinated daily.
Dangerous coronavirus variants
Meanwhile, Biden will reinstate the ban on non-American citizens traveling to the United States so as to limit the spread of coronavirus variants. The ban will be applicable to travelers from Europe’s Schengen Area, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, and Brazil.
Trump had earlier placed such a ban during his term, but he removed it two days prior to exiting the office. Coronavirus variants from places like the UK, South Africa, and Brazil are highly contagious and can cause a massive surge in infections.
In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that the UK variant could end up becoming the dominant strain in American by March. The number of coronavirus infections in the United States has exceeded 25 million. Over 429,000 people have died due to the pandemic.