On Monday, Nov. 9, President-Elect Joe Biden announced his plan for handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden has appointed an advisory board of top public health experts to guide his COVID-19 planning procedures. The team is made up of 15 medical professionals, including Dr. Celine Gounder, who is an infectious disease specialist.
As of Nov. 20, the CDC calculated 251,715 total deaths due to COVID-19 and 11,650,817 total cases.
“Around the country, hospitals report that doctors and nurses are being stretched to cope with rising numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients requiring special care,” according to the Associated Press.
Concerns are heightening as the number of cases increases.
“My biggest worry as it has been all along is that people ignore the advice of science and continue to spread the disease before we have the vaccines in wide distribution. We have already lost far too many people,” said Joseph Alicastro, a professor in the Communication and Media Studies Department.
There are several vaccines in various stages of development.
According to the Associated Press, “The government has launched a program called Operation Warp Speed, backed by the White House, to quickly manufacture and distribute tens of millions of doses of vaccines.”
Operation Warp Speed helps produce results in record time for a pandemic of this magnitude.
“We now have two vaccines that look like they will become available by the end of the year to essential hospital workers, and by spring to most of the population as production and distribution are ramped up,” said Alicastro.
Started by the Trump administration, Operation Warp Speed is expected to continue when the Biden administration takes over. However, the Trump administration continues to prevent Biden’s officials from having briefings on the pandemic and other matters of security.
“As the worst pandemic in a century bears down on the U.S. with renewed ferocity, the current administration is blocking Biden from collaborating with its response team,” said the Associated Press. “Biden’s representatives instead plan to meet directly with pharmaceutical companies this week to determine how best to distribute at least two promising vaccines to hundreds of millions of Americans.”
“We’re not able to be on the inside of these very important discussions in terms of how these different vaccines are going to be distributed,” said Celine Gounder, infectious disease physician on Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board .
One potential way to slow the spread of the virus is to have a national lockdown. However, Biden has said he will not put a lockdown in place.
“I am not going to shut down the economy, period,” said Biden.
Many students expressed their fears if there were to be a lockdown.
“If another lockdown were to happen, this lockdown would be different from the first. In fact, it would be a lockdown that would implement stricter rules and enforce them. Our country does not need another lockdown, small businesses do not need to be closed down again,” said junior Richard Doren. “Locking down the country would only do one thing to the economy, and that’s hurt it.”
“We’re already on track for the fastest economic recovery in history and to just shut that all down so the economy can tank just doesn’t make sense,” said junior Bridget Mosher.
Biden and his team continue to prepare for the COVID-19 challenges he will face when he takes office in January.
While waiting for the vaccine to be available, the CDC said it is critical to follow its procedures during this time and beyond.
“Dr. Fauci stressed the arrival of vaccines won’t be like flipping a switch to return to normal life. The first doses will become available for people in high-risk groups later this year. He said Americans will have to keep up preventive measures such as wearing masks, observing social distancing, and frequently washing their hands well into next year,” reported the Associated Press.