NATIONAL NEWS

Biden Unveiling $1.9T Plan To Stem Virus And Steady Economy

Jan 14, 2021, 3:43 PM
WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - DECEMBER 14: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the Electoral Colle...
WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - DECEMBER 14: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the Electoral College vote certification process at The Queen theater on December 14, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. On Monday, presidential electors of the Electoral College gathered in state capitals across the nation to cast their ballots for president and vice president. Their ballots will be formally counted during a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is unveiling a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan Thursday to turn the tide on the pandemic, speeding up the vaccine rollout and providing financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses struggling with the prolonged economic fallout.

Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. On a parallel track, it would deliver another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic, said aides who described the plan ahead of a speech by Biden on Thursday evening.

It includes $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has called for. The plan would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September. And it shoehorns in the long-term Democratic policy aim of increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and expanding paid leave for workers across the economy.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York has said Biden’s proposal will be his first order of business this year. The emergency legislation would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic.

Aides said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole. Interest rates are low, making debt more manageable. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the plan ahead of his speech Thursday night.

Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably linked with controlling the coronavirus. “Our work begins with getting COVID under control,” he declared in his victory speech. “We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality or relish life’s most precious moments until we get it under control.”

The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, about $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.

About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.

The plan provides $50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration’s first 100 days. About $130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.

The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus.

There’s also a proposal to boost investment in genetic sequencing, to help track new virus strains including the more contagious variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments, aides said.

With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts on the basics.

Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. It’s still the surest way to slow the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported just on Tuesday.

Biden’s biggest challenge will be to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration has delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 10.3 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 29 million doses have been delivered.

Biden believes the key to speeding that up lies not only in delivering more vaccine but also in working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but largely left it up to state and local officials to organize their vaccination campaigns.

“This is going to entail coordination at all levels, as well as resources,” said Dr. Nadine Gracia, executive vice president of the nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health. “There is a commitment the (incoming) administration has articulated to address the needs of communities.”

Biden has set a goal of administering 100 million shots in his first 100 days. The pace of vaccination is approaching 1 million shots a day, but 1.8 million a day would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association. Wen says the pace should be even higher — closer to 3 million a day.

It’s still unclear how the new administration will address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the doubts and suspicions that keep many people from getting a shot. Polls show it’s particularly a problem among Black Americans. “It’s important to acknowledge the reasons why it exists and work to earn trust and build vaccine confidence in communities,” said Gracia.

Next Wednesday, when Biden will be sworn in as president, marks the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

___

Associated Press writer Josh Boak contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Award-winning author Salman Rushdie is awake and "articulate" following the stabbing attack in New ...
Aya Elamroussi and Mark Morales, CNN

Salman Rushdie awake, ‘articulate’ after stabbing attack in New York, official says

Award-winning author Salman Rushdie is awake and "articulate" in his conversations with investigators as he remains hospitalized for severe injuries following a stabbing attack in western New York Friday, a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation told CNN Monday.
1 day ago
Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a weekly news conference at the U.S. Ca...
Geneva Sands, CNN

Secret Service notified Capitol Police on January 6, of threat directed at Pelosi

The US Secret Service, on the evening of January 6, 2021, notified the US Capitol Police that it had discovered an online threat directed toward House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
1 day ago
Rapper A$AP Rocky appeared in a Los Angeles Superior courtroom on Aug. 17, 2022 and pleaded not gui...
Associated Press

A$AP Rocky pleads not guilty to firearm assault charges

Rapper A$AP Rocky has pleaded not guilty to felony assault with a firearm charges stemming from a 2021 confrontation in Hollywood.
1 day ago
Raspberry Rally goes on sale in early 2023. (Girl Scouts of the USA)...
Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

Girl Scouts add a new raspberry cookie to the lineup

The Girl Scouts are adding a new, raspberry-flavored cookie to the lineup.
1 day ago
[File] Pride Flag...
Associated Press

Wisconsin school board votes in favor of pride flag ban

A Wisconsin school board has voted in favor of a policy that prohibits teachers and staff from displaying gay pride flags and other items that district officials consider political in nature.
1 day ago
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America/Getty Images)...
MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

CDC director announces shake-up, citing COVID mistakes

The head of the nation’s top public health agency is shaking up the organization with the goal of making it more nimble.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Biden Unveiling $1.9T Plan To Stem Virus And Steady Economy