Under the leadership of a new administration, our nation’s strategy on dealing with coronavirus will change

Last week, America ushered in a new presidential administration and with it an abundance of new policies. President Biden immediately began signing executive orders to reverse President Trump’s initiatives and to recentralize much of the power in combating the ongoing pandemic. 

While on the campaign trail, former Vice President Mike Pence attacked the Biden plan saying that, “The reality is, when you look at the Biden plan, it reads an awful lot like what President Trump and I and our task force have been doing every step of the way.”

In the months leading up to the election, the way the Trump administration managed the coronavirus outbreak was a major concern for many Americans. Biden’s staunch commitment to take decisive action against the pandemic was a major campaign promise that may have helped him win. So how will the Biden administration’s response differ from its predecessor? 

The steps President Biden has taken in the first week of his administration have already outlined how the current president differs from his predecessor. Their major differences lie in their approaches to the pandemic on a federal level and their role in the vaccine distribution. 

Response of federal government

The fundamental difference is the increased involvement of the federal government in  carrying out initiatives combating the virus and its harmful economic repercussions. Trump’s model delegated the authority to respond to individual states in the early months of the virus, largely due to the disproportionate level of impact around the country. Biden intends to spearhead a much more hands-on approach with his proposed $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.”

Biden believes the high spending outlined in the bill is necessary to avoid further economic damage, stating during his first days in office that a, “failure to do so will cost us dearly.” 

If passed by Congress, his plan will provide $1400 stimulus payments for most Americans, $350 billion for first responders and essential workers, $90 billion to aid devastated small businesses and $400 billion to expand vaccinations and testing. It also puts money toward the safe reopening of schools and includes other small provisions, one of which would increase the national minimum wage to $15 per hour. 

Role in vaccine distribution

Another difference between the administrations is  their role in the success of vaccines. There has been a consensus among medical experts that the widespread availability of an effective vaccine preventing the virus is vitally important for a safe return to normal life.

Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” presided over the expedited development, authorization, manufacturing and distribution of around 31 million Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the time he left office. Biden credited Trump for this accomplishment but criticized him for his lack of a distribution plan. Only 15.7 million vaccines were administered before Biden was sworn in.

As the newly elected president, Biden is responsible for ensuring the efficient distribution of the vaccine. Biden has often said his goal of 100 million vaccines being given in 100 days is lofty, but it’s a goal that was being met by his predecessor. In the Trump administration’s final days, roughly 1 million vaccines were being administered per day.  

His administration intends to establish vaccination locations in community centers nationwide and employ mobile vaccination teams. He also plans to purchase 200 million more doses from Pfizer and Moderna and systematically distribute all available doses at a rate of 10 million per week.

Biden’s key advantage

Though he begins his term as president in the middle of one of the worst national crises our country has faced, Biden’s advantage will be the year he had to witness and assess the shortcomings of the Trump administration’s response to the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus. After his record-setting 45 executive-order first week in office, all eyes are on Joe Biden to lead the nation to the end of the pandemic.