By Laura Barros
Washington/New York/Miami, Jan 23 (efe-epa).- Less than a week into the White House, President Joe Biden has focused energies of the administration mostly on fighting the coronavirus pandemic that has brought the superpower to its knees as the United States continues to struggle amid a vaccine shortage.
Biden was on Wednesday sworn into office in a ceremony marked by high security and a reduced public presence to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
He dedicated his first day in the Oval Office to roll out policies to fight the disease that has infected more than 25 million and claimed over 427,000 lives in the US since January 2020, when the first case was detected in America.
Biden departed from the policies of his predecessor Donald Trump, who downplayed the virus threat and prioritized economic activities.
The new US president, hours after he arrived in the White House, signed a string of executive orders and presidential directives and pledged a “full-scale wartime effort” to defeat the virus that has killed more Americans than the country’s troop fatalities in World War II.
Biden promised that the US would administer 100 million doses of the vaccine in his first 100 days in office.
But, on the ground, a dire scarcity of vaccine doses may have already bumped off the plan.
For example, New York, which last year became the virus epicenter, closed 15 vaccination centers after doses ran out.
Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that the state administration would have used all vaccine dosages by the end of Friday delivered to New York.
He said 97 percent of New York State’s vaccine inventory, delivered during the past five weeks, had been administered.
“By the time vaccines arrive, our goal is to get them into (people’s) arms as soon as possible,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo admitted that “250,400 doses per week is not enough” for the state, where so far more than a million people have received their first doses.
According to a New York Times report on Saturday, health centers across the country have had to cancel thousands of vaccine appointments as hospitals run out of doses.
The situation is especially dire in Texas, which averages about 20,000 new cases a day.
It has triggered concerns over whether officials can curb the spread when they cannot get vaccines that they desperately need to do so, the newspaper noted.
According to the newspaper version, in South Carolina, one hospital in the city of Beaufort had to cancel 6,000 vaccine appointments after it received only 450 of the doses it had expected.
In Hawaii, a Maui hospital canceled 5,000 first-dose appointments and placed 15,000 additional appointment requests on hold for the same reason.
In California, the San Francisco city, which has recorded the highest number of infections in the country with more than 3 million cases, authorities slowed down the vaccine appointment allocations because there are not enough doses.
As people in South Florida struggle to secure shots amid cancellations, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine-Cavasigned an emergency order for accountability and equal distribution of the vaccine across all communities.