KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed more than a dozen executive actions, including implementing a mask mandate on federal property and installing a COVID-19 response coordinator to oversee the White House’s efforts to distribute vaccines and medical supplies.
These executive orders are part of his plan to tackle the pandemic, which includes challenging all Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his administration.
Biden said his goal is to distribute 100 million COVID-19 vaccines within his first 100 days.
“Having an actual plan will always help, instead of basically throwing it to the states and telling them to do their own thing,” said Dr. Rex Archer, director of health for the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department.
To distribute more vaccines, the president is proposing a $1.9 trillion economic package that would include $20 billion for a national vaccination program and allow for the creation of community vaccination centers and mobile units.
The plan also calls for hiring 100,000 public health workers in roles such as vaccine outreach and contact tracing.
“That would be 2,000 more people to Missouri, which would mean 140 or so just to Kansas City, Missouri, and that’s what it’s really going to take," Archer said, "because once we have the vaccine onboard and we’re getting more people vaccinated, it will slow it the outbreak down and our contact tracing disease investigation can actually put it out."
Even though there’s a need, Park University Professor Matt Harris warned the plan could be hard to pass in its entirety. Congress will have to approve.
Democrats currently hold a razor-thin majority in the Senate and the House.
“It’s going to be a challenge if they have to work around a potential filibuster, have to get to 60 votes for some of the pieces of that," Harris said. "It’s a really big piece of legislation."
A top health official in Kansas told lawmakers Wednesday the state likely will see only a small uptick in the immediate supply of the COVID-19 vaccine with the change in presidential administrations, according to the Associated Press.
In a press conference Wednesday, Dr. Randall Williams with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said the state has been in touch with the new administration.
“They’ve asked for some information, they are putting out plans and we’re very much interacting with them,” Williams said.