President-elect Joe Biden has promised 100 million coronavirus vaccinations during his first 100 days in office.
As the Republicans continue their efforts to halt Biden's election win in Pennsylvania, the President-elect is looking ahead and calling for urgent action on the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden unveiled his newly-assembled health care team at a conference in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday, where he also laid out the three COVID-19 priorities for his first 100 days in office:
- A call for all Americans to voluntarily wear a mask during those 100 days.
- A commitment to administer 100 million vaccines.
- A pledge to reopen the majority of the nation's schools.
The president-elect also said he would use the power of the federal government to make masks mandatory in federal buildings and when travelling from state to state on public transport.
This would mostly work to strengthen policies already in place. But Biden said he would urge governors and mayors to impose similar requirements.
"I know that out of our collective pain, we will find our collective purpose: to control the pandemic, to save lives, and to heal as a nation," Biden said.
Who are Biden's new health care team?
The government's top infectious diseases specialist, Anthony Fauci, is one of a number of medical doctors in Biden's new team.
Alongside Fauci, the other doctors selected include another infectious diseases specialist, Rochelle Walensky, to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, and Yale epidemiologist Marcella Nunez-Smith to head a working group to ensure fair and equitable distribution of vaccines and treatments.
Latino politician and California's attorney general in Congress, Xavier Becerra has been appointed as health secretary under the Biden administration.
In choosing Becerra to be his health secretary, Biden tapped a prominent defender of the Affordable Care Act. But Becerra, 62, will face questions in his Senate confirmation about whether he possesses sufficient health care and management experience.
Biden was drawn to Becerra's working-class roots, his longtime effort to increase access to health care and his willingness to work with Republicans to solve problems like getting patients access to COVID-19 treatments.
As a congressman, Becerra played an insider role helping to steer Obamacare to passage. As California attorney general, he leads a coalition of Democratic states trying to block the Trump administration's latest attempt to overturn it.
But he has been less involved in the day-to-day work of combating the coronavirus.
Plans for Pfizer vaccine to be rolled out in the U.S.
Scientific advisers to the US government are to meet on Thursday to make a recommendation on the Pfizer vaccine, which is already being administered in the United Kingdom.
On Tuesday, the president-elect warned that his team's preliminary review of Trump administration plans for vaccinations has found shortcomings. This came as President Donald Trump held his own event to take credit for his administration's work to speed up vaccine development.
Biden called on Congress to pass legislation to finance the administration of vaccines as they become more widely available next year in an effort to close the loop from lab to patient.
The rest of Biden's extensive health care agenda, from expanding insurance coverage to negotiating prices for prescription drugs, will likely hinge on how his administration performs in this first test of competence and credibility.
But having an approved vaccine is one thing, getting it into the arms of 330 million Americans is something else altogether. Biden will be judged on how well his administration carries out the enormous task.
Participating by video, Fauci called Biden's 100-day plan "bold but doable, and essential to help the public avoid unnecessary risks and help us save lives."
Ever the straight talker, he admonished: "The road ahead will not be easy. We have got a lot of hard and demanding work ahead."