Immediately after taking office, President Joe Biden released his strategy to combat the COVID-19 virus and to bring this pandemic to an end. The administration already formed their COVID-19 response team and have begun investing in effective measures, which include increased vaccination efforts and stimulus deals. But combating the virus is a difficult task, as the numbers are still out of control and cases reaching 28.1 million infections and 491,000 deaths. Though Biden’s plan itself is fairly straightforward and on target to provide relief, it falls short in keeping up with the ever-evolving circumstances of the pandemic.
Biden’s strategy includes his American Rescue Plan, which aims to tackle issues that have stemmed from the onset of the pandemic and the Trump administration’s poor response. Within this plan, Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion rescue package to combat the crisis and to ramp up vaccination efforts. In fact, Biden already promised to administer 100 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines within his first 100 days of office. His plan also ensures that everyone in the country can be tested regularly for coronavirus infections by increasing the number of testing sites and by scaling up the production of rapid tests. However, though more testing will help, it will not be enough if tests don’t reach communities hit hardest by the virus. It is paramount that the Biden response has a focus on equity, as COVID-19 has hit impoverished communities the hardest.
COVID-19 has evolved and become even more dangerous with new variants emerging throughout the globe. These variants from Britain, South Africa, Brazil and potentially even California, are more contagious and more resistant against the immune system and vaccines. This requires the Biden administration to adapt and put more effort to control the spread of the virus by increasing vaccination efforts. Biden needs to aim higher, as his goal of 100 million vaccinations is far from enough to keep up with the uncertainty of the pandemic and may hinder the potential of bringing the pandemic to an end.
Because of this uncertainty, the plan’s goal of safely reopening a majority of K-12 schools in the first 100 days is another ambitious, yet risky, target to achieve. Previous efforts to reopen schools across the country have failed due to spikes in COVID-19 cases. Even with the arrival of the vaccine, its effectiveness is dependent on its distribution, and herd immunity must be achieved first before the country can reopen schools effectively. In turn, it would be best to maintain a remote learning environment till more vaccinations have occurred.
The $1.9 trillion plan will also provide a stimulus to deliver immediate relief to working families who have been hit hardest because of this crisis by sending $1,400 per-person checks to households across America. This is in addition to the $600 received in December and the other rounds of stimulus bills in 2020. However, some will argue that this number is still too low to provide effective relief to Americans, with concerns that the $1400 addition to the prior $600 given by the Trump administration was not the $2000 that was initially promised.
Despite these concerns, many still agree that Biden’s plan is the most comprehensive plan to date, especially in stark comparison to his predecessor’s. However, above policy, the Biden plan must emphasize to all Americans that taking simple preventable measures such as hand-washing and mask-wearing is the most effective way to limit exposure. Restoring America’s faith in science-based leadership is a rather daunting task after the damage done by the Trump administration. But prioritizing informing Americans on these simple measures will be the most effective path to return to normalcy, as evidenced by other countries with similar prioritization.
While Biden’s plans and ideas are ambitious and aimed in the right direction, the road ahead is unfortunately tough and uncertain. But to bring the pandemic to an end, the Biden administration must be bolder and more capable to adapt to the circumstances.