Washington, Jan 15 (efe-epa).- President-elect Joe Biden said Friday that “things will get worse before they get better” in the battle against Covid-19, which has claimed more than 391,000 lives in the United States.
“Truthfully, we remain in a very dark winter,” the Democrat said during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “Infection rates are up 34 percent, more people are hospitalized because of Covid than ever before. Almost a year later we’re still far from back to normal.”
“We’re up to 3,000-4,000 deaths per day as we approach the grim milestone of 400,000 deaths in America. That’s staggering,” Biden said on the same day the global death toll from coronavirus reached 2 million.
The US, with 23.4 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, leads the world in both infections and fatalities.
“I know the pain so many of you are experiencing, staring at the empty chair around the kitchen table where a loved one used to sit, laugh, and love. I know the frustration we are all feeling. Almost a year later, we’re still far from back to normal,” Biden said as he outlined steps to accelerate vaccinations when he takes office next Wednesday.
“Our plan is as clear as it is bold: Get more people vaccinated for free. Create more places for them to get vaccinated. Mobilize more medical teams to get the shots in people’s arms. Increase supply and get it out the door as soon as possible,” he said.
Under outgoing President Donald Trump, the vaccine rollout has been a “dismal failure thus far,” Biden said.
Acknowledging the difficulty of meeting the goal of vaccinating 100 million people in his first 100 days as president, he said that he was “convinced” it could be done.
“You have my word: We will manage the hell out of this operation,” Biden said, pledging to simplify eligibility rules, open more vaccination sites and find ways to increase the supply and distribution of vaccines.
The president-elect envisions using the National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to build vaccination clinics across the US.
“If you were to ask most people today, they couldn’t tell you who exactly is getting vaccinated. What they do know is there are tens of millions of doses of vaccine sitting unused in freezers around the country, while people who want and need the vaccine can’t get it,” Biden said.
Repeating his call for people to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration as a “patriotic act,” he said he would make mask-wearing mandatory on federal property and for passengers using interstate transportation such as trains and commercial aircraft.
On the subject of masks, Biden upbraided Republican members of Congress who declined to mask up when lawmakers were forced to shelter in crowded spaces during the violent occupation of the Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan. 6.
“What the hell’s the matter with them?,” he asked rhetorically. “It’s time to grow up.”
Five Congress members have disclosed that they tested positive for Covid-19 in the days following the Capitol siege. EFE