Biden unveils COVID-19 plan, warns it will take months to 'turn things around'

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden unveiled a comprehensive strategy to address the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday while warning that it would take months for his administration’s actions to significantly alter the trajectory of the pandemic.

Biden said that the COVID-19 death toll would likely top 500,000 in February and that it would take months to get Americans vaccinated against the virus.

“We didn’t get into this mess overnight and it’s going to take months for us to turn things around. But let me be equally clear — we will get through this,” Biden said in remarks from the State Dining Room.

“We will defeat this pandemic, and to a nation waiting for action, let me be the clearest on this point: Help is on the way,” he continued.

Biden on his first full day in office unveiled a 100-plus page national strategy to defeat COVID-19, which focuses on accelerating vaccinations while slowing the spread of the virus with increased mask wearing, more testing and other public health measures. He also signed 10 executive orders aimed at blunting the public health crisis.

To that end, Biden announced his administration directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to begin standing up community vaccination centers, with the goal of opening 100 across the country within the month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also launch a program to expand access to vaccines through local pharmacies. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will work to recruit more health workers to serve as vaccinators.

Biden’s remarks came the day after he was sworn in as president and demonstrated the central focus he is putting on the coronavirus response as he takes office as the country grapples with the continuing high cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.

He expressed cautious optimism about the path forward while promising that his administration would level with the American public on the true threat posed by the virus.

“We will level with you when we make a mistake. We will straight up say what happened,” Biden said, adding a warning: “We are still in the dark winter of this pandemic.” — Agencies

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