Joe Biden's Pandemic Plan: Obamacare Restoration, Obligatory Masks, Paid Sick Depart, and Free COVID-19 Testing

Joe Biden has an important task ahead of him: Containing COVID-19.

While the US makes up about 4% of the world's population, it has about 20% of all COVID-19 cases. As of Friday, the US had reported 10.7 million COVID-19 infections and 242,435 deaths, just ahead of India (8.7 million cases so far) and behind Colombia (11.8 million). To put that into context, there are 328 million people in the US versus 1.35 billion in India.

The daily US number of coronavirus infections was over 160,000 on Thursday, a new daily record and the tenth day in a row with more than 100,000 new cases. Hospitals in the Midwest and southern states, including Texas and Florida, continued to feel strained. According to the Covid Tracking Project, hospital stays are at their highest level since the beginning of the pandemic and have increased by 30% since November 1st.

Analysts say there were two topics on the ballot: the economy and the coronavirus. The two are now inevitably critically intertwined, of course. According to reports, Biden has already started working with his team on power transfers, including coordinating his strategy for COVID-19. Biden's transition team announced a new coronavirus task force on Monday.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, IDSA has called for a comprehensive and well-coordinated response based on the best available scientific data."

– Amanda Jezek, Infectious Disease Society of America

"Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our government will face and I am kept informed by science and experts," Biden said in a statement. “The Advisory Board will help shape my approach to managing the rise in reported infections. Ensure vaccines are distributed safely, effectively and efficiently, fairly and free of charge; and protecting vulnerable populations. "

Transition's COVID-19 Advisory Board is headed by Dr. David Kessler, Professor of Pediatrics, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who served as the 19th surgeon general in the United States from 2014 to 2017 and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Public Health, and Management at Yale University.

On Monday morning, Pfizer told BioNTech that the COVID-19 vaccine candidate BNT162b2 was 90% effective in the first interim analysis of the Phase 3 study in study participants with no prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Pfizer's CEO, Dr. Albert Bourla, expressed optimism: "Today is a great day for science and humanity."

The companies plan to submit an Emergency Approval (EUA) to the Food and Drug Administration shortly after the safety milestones currently expected in the third week of November have been met. Provided the vaccine is effective and released, there will be many logistical and sales problems to solve in the months ahead.

Biden welcomed the news but urged people to continue to take precautions. "It's also important to understand that the end of the fight against COVID-19 is still months away," he said in a statement, adding: "Even if this is achieved and some Americans are vaccinated later this year, it will." be so." many months before vaccination becomes widespread in this country. "

"We're going to see all these little epidemics across the country, crossed and mixed, and it's going to be a lot like pouring gasoline on a fire."

– Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency doctor at Brown University

The Infectious Diseases Society of America told MarketWatch that Biden's plans to fight the pandemic reflect their own core principles. "Since the beginning of the pandemic, IDSA has called for a comprehensive and well-coordinated response based on the best scientific data available," said Amanda Jezek, senior vice president of public policy and government relations at IDSA.

Jezek also said that IDSA supported Biden's promise to update the public regularly. “Clear communication with the public is an essential part of efforts to combat the pandemic. Collecting and sharing data transparently is important in building public trust and helping people make informed decisions to reduce the risk of transmission, ”she added.

While the scientific community has traditionally stayed out of politics, the medical journal Nature endorsed Biden's bid for the presidency and his pandemic plan. “He has shown that he respects the values ​​of research and has vowed to work to restore the United States' broken global relationship. For these reasons, nature supports Biden, ”read an editorial on October 3rd.

"Biden's campaign has worked closely with researchers to develop comprehensive plans for COVID-19 and climate change," she added. “He pledged that decisions about how to respond to the pandemic will be made by health professionals, not politicians. and he rightly undertakes to restore these professionals' ability to communicate directly with the public. "

Using that sentiment, Larry Levitt, executive vice president of health policy at Kaiser Family Foundation, a not-for-profit private foundation in Menlo Park, Calif., Quoted Biden's promise to "put public health scientists and leaders at the center of communications" in America Public and to ensure that the federal government has primary responsibility for the coronavirus.

Connected: What a Joe Biden Presidency means for taxes, health care, housing, student debt – and another COVID-19 stimulus package

Here is a summary of Biden's pandemic plan:

1. Press on a national mask mandate

Speaking at the campaign in his hometown of Wilmington, Del., Biden vowed to urge more Americans to wear masks. "First, I go to each governor and ask them to order masks to be worn in their states. If they refuse, I go to the county mayors and executives and get local mask requirements nationwide," he said. President Trump has described the wearing of masks as "politically correct".

Jezek said IDSA supports this policy. "In August, IDSA called for a national mask mandate as strong scientific evidence suggests masks significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission," she said. In addition, the modeling suggests that near universal masking could prevent 180,000 COVID-19 deaths. We continue to support a national mask mandate. "

2. Paid sick leave and care leave

In addition to his pledge to raise the federal minimum wage from $ 7.25 an hour to $ 15 an hour, Biden said the pandemic had highlighted the lack of occupational health and safety for millions of workers, such as paid sick and nursing leave, and he was in favor of paying Threats to important workers who endanger their health and who usually receive low wages.

President-elect Biden's goal of strengthening the workforce necessary to respond to COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics is laudable, and that workforce must include health professionals, clinicians and scientists. “Said Isek. "Approximately 208 million Americans live in areas where there is little or no access to an infectious disease doctor."

3. CDC tracker for coronavirus patients

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health temporarily changed the way hospitals reported critical information about the coronavirus pandemic to the government and took responsibility for data collection from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, following a backlash from public health officials, the department overturned that decision in August.

Biden wants more transparency. He said he would instruct the CDC to create real-time dashboards showing hospital admissions related to COVID-19, especially for intensive care units and emergency rooms, in collaboration with the American Hospital Association and major hospital chains, as well as supply chain information on personal protective equipment and others important supplies.

Former U.S. Commissioner for Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, told CNBC on Friday, "We're going to see these case numbers really skyrocket," he said, adding that hospitalizations are also a top concern. Almost 57,000 people have now been hospitalized with the virus. "This is really the number that has to be seen," he said. That's a lot and it's growing very quickly. "

With no epicenter, health professionals have warned that ventilators and other devices are more difficult to share and transfer from state to state.

Health professionals have warned that hospitals could be overwhelmed and that given the disease in the country, it is more difficult to share and transfer ventilators and other life-saving devices from state to state. During the first surge in coronavirus in April, there were hotspots in places like New York, while many parts of the South and Midwest were worst spared.

But not this time. Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency doctor at Brown University, was optimistic about Biden's pandemic plan to CNN on Sunday, but said she was concerned about the strain on the health system: "We're going to see all these little epidemics across the country, criss-crossed and mixed, and it's going to be a lot like pouring gasoline on a fire, ”she said.

For the Biden administration, "all hands will be on deck," said Dr. Jehan "Gigi" el-Bayoumi, Professor of Medicine at George Washington University. She said she was "relieved" that Biden won the election. "We are in a four-alarm fire and we have to not only get everyone to stop the fire, stop it from spreading, we also have to find out what caused the fire in the first place."

4. Obamacare Protection and Recovery

Protecting Obamacare will be a top priority for President-elect Biden. Previously, he had voiced fears that a 6-3 Conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court, made possible by recently-confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett, could finally dismantle former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act and deprive millions of people from health insurance could.

Around 7.7 million Americans laid off during the pandemic lost their employer-sponsored health insurance as of June. These plans affected around 6.9 million of their loved ones, of whom up to 14.6 million people were affected. This comes from a report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that deals with health care issues.

5. Free COVID-19 tests for everyone

Biden has promised free tests to all Americans, whether they have health insurance or not: no co-payments, no deductibles, and no surprising medical billing. "We should be spending a lot more money on testing and investigating," he told CBS News this month. "It's not enough to know in seven or five or three days whether you have COVID or not."

“IDSA agrees to improve access to testing and testing capabilities. Not only do we need to ensure that anyone who needs a test can get one, but we also need to improve test turnaround time to ensure the results are fast enough to effectively inform the contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, ”said Jezek . "We also need a strategy to ensure an adequate inventory of tests and test supplies."

See also: Italy is tightening COVID-19 restrictions and putting Venice back into "victorious solitude".

Joe Biden is expected to announce the formation of a pandemic task force as early as Monday.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Trump has defended his response to the coronavirus pandemic. On January 31st, he issued a partial travel ban in China. Initial reports were released in late 2019 about the outbreak in Wuhan, China. Trump followed suit in February and March with further travel bans affecting Europe and other trouble spots where the virus showed signs of spiking.

The president said his "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine development was on track. "Under my leadership, we are delivering a safe vaccine and a speedy recovery that no one can believe," Trump said ahead of the election, a week after he recovered from COVID-19. "If you look at our upward path, no country in the world has recovered as we have."

However, billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft
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Co-founder Bill Gates recently reported in a recent interview with Fox News Sunday that the president's partial travel ban to China and later other countries may indeed have created a situation where people rushed to the US and made the pandemic worse. "The ban probably hastened that," he said.

President Trump has defended his response to the pandemic. On January 31st, he issued a partial travel ban in China. Initial reports were released in late 2019 about the outbreak in Wuhan, China.

"We caused this onslaught and we weren't able to test or quarantine these people, so it started the disease here," Gates said. He pointed to the two coasts and said trips from Asia and Europe would throw the dye. "There was this incredible explosion in March – the west coast came from China and then the east coast came from Europe," he added.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, immunologist and director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases and an infectious disease expert for four decades, has raised concerns about "twemooth" from COVID-19 and seasonal influenza as the US enters flu season and urged Americans to get their flu vaccinations to get.

Fauci said he hoped a coronavirus vaccine could be developed by early 2021, but said repeatedly that a vaccine is unlikely to offer 100% immunity. He said the best realistic result, based on other vaccines, would be 70% to 75% effectiveness. The measles vaccine, he said, is among the most effective with 97% immunity.

Last week the doctor said he did not support Trump or any candidate. "In my nearly five decades in the civil service, I have never publicly endorsed a political candidate," Fauci told CNN. "The comments attributed to me in the campaign ad without my permission have been taken out of the context of a comprehensive statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal health officials."

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist, advisor to Joe Biden and Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, told MarketWatch that the return to life beyond COVID-19 won't happen until "late" 2021. "But it will probably be enough to open colleges and universities (and) schools." That too depends on each vaccine, its distribution and effectiveness.

Until the end of AstraZeneca
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in combination with the University of Oxford, BioNTech SE
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and partner Pfizer
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;; Johnson & Johnson
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Merck & Co.
+ 1.79%
;; Sanofi
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and GlaxoSmithKline
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are among the companies currently working on vaccines.

Emanuel has so far criticized the government's response to the pandemic. "We never had an efficient testing regime to quickly identify people, isolate them and prevent them from spreading," he added. "We did not have a nationwide uniform effective implementation of public health measures: physical distancing, wearing face masks and restricting the crowd are crucial."

Advisors to Biden's transition team for COVID-19 are Dr. Beth Cameron, former senior director of global health security and bio-defense on the White House National Security Council, and Dr. Rebecca Katz, professor and director of the Center for Global Health Science and Safety at Georgetown University Medical Center. You will work closely with the Advisory Board.

The Biden transition team said the new task force will consult with state and local officials: "President-elect Biden has pledged to lead the COVID pandemic, which continues to kill thousands every week, by containing the spread of the disease bring. Providing free treatment to those in need and raising the voices of scientists and public health experts. "

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