- President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his ambitious $US1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” Thursday.
- As well as stimulus payments, the proposals include measures to fight COVID-19.
- This includes new plans for testing, vaccination, research, and international relief. Here are the 10 key parts of the plan.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his $US1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” Thursday.
As well as pledging $US2,000 in direct stimulus payments to financially support Americans during the pandemic, Biden also detailed how he plans to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the US.
He announced a wide range of measures to tackle the virus totaling more than $US400 billion, including policies that focus specifically on underserved communities like people of colour, nursing homes, and prisons.
From vaccines and testing to reopening schools, here’s what Biden’s team has planned.
Launch a $US20 billion national vaccination program
Biden plans to invest $US20 billion in a national vaccination program that will work closely with local authorities. This would include launching community vaccination centres and deploying mobile vaccination units for use in hard-to-reach areas.
Current vaccination efforts are “not sufficient to quickly and equitably vaccinate the vast majority of the US population,” the document outlining the measures said.
Biden had previously pledged to deliver 100 million vaccines within his first 100 days in the White House, but in December said this would take years if vaccines were not delivered faster. To reach his target, the US would need to “[ramp] up five to six times the current pace to 1 million shots a day,” he said.
Spend $US50 billion on expanded testing
Biden wants to expand COVID-19 testing with a $US50 billion investment, and the document repeated his commitment to ensuring tests are available to all Americans for free.
The investment includes purchasing rapid tests that provide quicker results, expanding lab capacity so more tests can be processed, and implementing regular testing protocols at schools, prisons, long-term care facilities, and local governments.
This will allow the country to reopen schools and other facilities to emerge from lockdown safely, the document said.
It noted that â€‹”tests are still not widely availableâ€‹” despite this being a “critical strategy for controlling the spread of COVID-19.”
The plan didn’t reference drive-through testing sites, but Biden had previously said he intends to establish at least 10 per state.
Create more public health jobs
Biden intends to recruit 100,000 public health workers for his plan. Their tasks would involve vaccine outreach and contact tracing in the immediate term, but in the long-run the roles would transition into community health roles â€” nearly tripling the number of these workers.
Support the communities hardest hit by COVID-19
“While COVID-19 has devastated the entire country, it has hit some groups and communities of colour much harder than others,” the document said.
To address these concerns, Biden’s team plans to ensure vaccines and supplies are distributed equitably, and expand healthcare services for underserved communities. This includes opening more community health centres and investing in health services on Native American land.
Prevent outbreaks in jails and long-term care facilities
Biden also plans to better support residents and workers in both prisons and long-term care facilities, he said.
Addressing these problems would also make the US’s COVID-19 response more equitable, the document said. Black and Latino populations are overrepresented both as long-term care workers and among incarcerated individuals, the document noted.
Identify new strains of the virus
In light of the spread of mutant COVID-19 strains, Biden proposed to “dramatically increase” the US’s virus sequencing work, surveillance, and outbreak analytics capacity. This would allow it to better monitor and respond to new strains of the virus, per the plan.
The two more infectious strains of the virus identified in the UK and South Africa “highlight a key vulnerability in our nation’s COVID response,” the document said. Increased surveillance to track the way the virus is changing was essential to understanding outbreaks and developing treatments and vaccines, it added.
Provide more emergency relief and purchase critical supplies
The US’s pandemic response so far has been hampered by “persistent supply shortages,” ranging from gloves and masks to glass vials and test reagents, the plan said.
About half of US states worry they will run out of COVID-19 tests, and even more fear they won’t have the supplies to distribute a vaccine, a November report by the Government Accountability Office found.
Biden wants to spend more money producing COVID-19 supplies and find better ways to provide emergency relief to communities in need.
This includes investing $US30 billion into the Disaster Relief Fund, which provides supplies and protective gear, and calling for an additional $US10 billion investment to expand domestic manufacturing of pandemic supplies. Biden has already committed to using the Defence Production Act to produce more supplies.
Biden also wants to provide full federal reimbursement for critical emergency response resources to states, local governments, and Native American tribes, including deployment of the National Guard.
Work with the rest of the world
Biden also aims to “restore US leadership globally,” noting that the US can’t be protected from COVID-19 without a global response.
His team plans to provide $US11 billion in international funding, which will support measures that protect against the pandemic’s impact on food security and gender-based violence, as well as fighting mutant strains of COVID-19 and distributing medical aid globally.
Though the document didn’t mention the World Health Organisation (WHO), Biden has previously said he will rejoin it on his first day in office. President Donald Trump cut all funding to the WHO in May, and the US formally withdrew in July.
Help schools reopen safely
Reopening schools as quickly and as safely as possible is a “critical” part of Biden’s COVID-19 plan, the document said, and he plans to open the majority of K-8 schools within the first 100 days in office.
Biden is calling on Congress to provide $US170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions, which will be supplemented by additional state and local relief resources.
This includes $US130 billion to help schools reopen safely, by supporting social distancing in school buildings and facilitating remote learning. This includes reducing class sizes, improving building ventilation, hiring more janitors, ensuring every school has access to a nurse, and increasing school bus provision so that pupils can social distance while onboard.
A $US35 billion Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund will be directed at public institutions, including community colleges, alongside public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.
Provide more emergency paid leave so Americans don’t spread the virus at work
Biden plans to provide emergency paid leave to up to 106 million more Americans, which the plan said will reduce the spread of the virus. These workers will be given access to paid leave by reducing loopholes in the current Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which has exemptions for employers with more than 500 and less than 50 employees.
“No American should have to choose between putting food on the table and quarantining to prevent further spread of COVID-19,” the plan said, noting that nearly one in four workers lacks access to paid sick leave.