What Hispanics need to know about the New Administration's plan to combat COVID-19
President Biden had a clear picture of the ground he would be covering to launch a campaign with the goal of controlling and eventually overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. With only 4% of the world's population, this country nevertheless carries a quarter of the global total number of infections and related deaths. Terrifying data. That is why the President knew that the moment he set foot in the White House he would have to act quickly, clearly, and on a scientific rather than political basis. Every day without a plan, thousands of lives are lost and thousands more left with permanent scars. As soon Biden entered office, he began developing the first measures that shape his ambitious but necessary plan which, although imperfect, still attempts to address the different facets involved in the complex battle against the pandemic.
The contingency plan
The first decrees of the ‘Biden plan’ have to do with the most urgent and sensible measures to curb the contagion, such as verifying the actual number of cases and accelerating the vaccination process. Providing access to medical care is another essential point for our community, which has been at a disadvantage in the face of this aggressive virus, precisely due to the lack of preventive health services. There are seven specific objectives for us to review:
First objective: Regain the trust of the American people.
This is the most difficult part amidst so much erroneous and malicious information circulating the Internet. It is worth mentioning that all the measures being taken are based on the effort of a group working together that comprises public health experts and strategists, as well as the most prominent epidemiologists in the country, including Dr. Anthony Fauci. The federal government also committed to regular, expert-led reports based on science and reliable data that will be openly released to the public.
Second goal: A safe, effective, and equitable vaccination campaign.
This includes resources, information campaigns and organization with the local governments to make the vaccination process effective, fair, and quick. Another long-awaited consideration made by the new administration is focus on the importance of vaccinating undocumented immigrants working in the country. Not only is it morally correct, but in practice it is a smart move that will provide immense relief for millions of people trusting they will not be ignored under this new plan.
Third objective: Reduce the spread of the virus (including the use of masks).
It takes a coordinated effort in many areas to work together. The widespread use of face masks can be of enormous help. Though the issue has not been an easy one to deal with because it has been politicized. However, the fact remains that it will at minimum be required in all federal buildings, as well as on interstate flights and public transportation. This makes a big difference. In an ideal world, if we all wore it when in contact with other people or in common spaces, virus control would be much greater going a long way towards curbing hospitalizations and deaths.
Fourth goal: Increase emergency assistance and exercise the Defense Production Act.
We are in a state of war against an invisible, yet extremely lethal, enemy. If necessary, the country can make use of regulations such as the Defense Production Act that enables various companies to focus their efforts on producing materials the country needs to get ahead in this battle, such as: N95 masks, medical equipment, virus detection tests, vaccines, and distribution methods to the population. Also considered in Biden’s plan is an increase to the number of rapid virus tests, since this is a key piece of information that would allow schools and most on-site jobs to return to normal. Knowing who, where, and how many are infected helps streamline efforts and resources.
Fifth objective: Reopen schools, businesses, and travel safely.
No one wants to shut down the economy again, quite the contrary. However, slightly more stringent measures are needed to ensure everyone's safety. For example, travelers, especially foreigners, now must pass a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country and a mandatory quarantine upon arrival. This is a far less strict measure than those being enforced in other countries. It is a safe middle ground and a step up for us in safeguarding and security, which is all dependent on responsibility, common sense, and empathy.
Sixth goal: Protect the most vulnerable.
After almost a year of this pandemic, experts now know the virus has affected the population differently resulting in an increased geographical, socio-economic, and racial inequality. For this reason, the administration’s idea to apply measures according to the reality of the different communities requires and urgent but accurate gathering of the right information to identify specific needs. At this point, the government wants to guarantee affordable health care coverage, which is why it extended the enrollment period for Obamacare from February 15 to May 15, allowing a greater number of people to access health care, especially the most affected groups. This is a very important measure for our community because it offers us the opportunity to have health insurance at a desperate time. We must not forget that a large part of our community suffers from conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and obesity, all of which are risk factors for the coronavirus. Most minority, at-risk people have stopped seeking medical care for fear of becoming infected or due to losing health benefits. Today, it is more important than ever to seek information about individual qualification for health plans. Do not miss out on this valuable opportunity.
Seventh objective: Regain the country's global leadership status.
We all want America to remain a leader… THE leader! This is not just about fighting COVID-19, but also about being alert to and prepared for new biological threats. Treaties need to be done and it will take a lot of work to reestablish ties, such as the one that has always existed with the World Health Organization and the UN Security Council, that will allow us to once again be an entity of unity, humanitarian aid, research, support, and sanity at a global level.
Undoubtedly, it is an ambitious plan. One that can be executed with the help and social responsibility of all parties involved, including each one of us. This can be our salvation plan to leave behind the nightmare known as COVID-19 once and for all.
Let's be responsible, proactive, and healthier, together!
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