By Amy Goldstein,
President-elect Joe Biden Tuesday laid out a three-point plan to begin defeating the coronavirus pandemic during his first 100 days in office, saying he will sign an executive order the day he is sworn in to require Americans to wear masks on buses and trains crossing state lines, as well as in federal buildings.
Biden also pledged to distribute at least 100 million vaccines during that time, singling out educators, who he said should get shots “as soon as possible” after they are given first, under current plans, to health workers and people who live and work in long-term care facilities. He did not specify whether he meant 100 million doses or vaccinating that many people. The two vaccines nearing approval both require two doses.
The other goal of his 100-day plan, Biden said, is to enable “the majority of our schools” to reopen within that time horizon and to remain open. He called on Congress to devote the funding needed to make it safe to students and teachers to return to classrooms.
The president-elect set out these initial priorities for the pandemic he regards as his top priority in remarks in Wilmington, Del., during which he introduced seven members of the team he has chosen to lead the government’s response and to weigh other changes to the nation’s health-care system.
They include California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), his nominee as secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services — a former 12-term House member who is the first Latino and the first top state legal official ever chosen for that role.
Biden has said often and urgently that Americans should wear masks, and he reiterated Tuesday that he would work with mayors and governors, encouraging them to impose mandates regarding face-coverings in their jurisdictions. But his remarks were the first time he committed to signing an executive order to require masks “wherever possible” in venues under federal authority.
His vaccine goal came a day after The Post reported that federal officials may be unable buy more than their first 100 million vaccine doses from Pfizer and BioNTech, the drug companies whose vaccine is first in line for federal clearance, until late June or July, because other countries have been buying it. Like Pfizer, Moderna has already contracted to deliver its first 100 million doses to the U.S. government. As with Pfizer’s vaccine, those doses will become available as soon as its vaccine is cleared by federal regulators.
Biden did not specifically address the possibility that fewer doses may be available for the first months of next year than has been anticipated.
He acknowledged that those actions will not end the pandemic, saying “we will still have much to do in the year ahead, and sadly, much difficulty, too. We will be far, far from done.
“Yet,” he said, “it is possible that after 100 days, we will be much farther along in the fight against the pandemic.”
Matt Viser contributed to this story.
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