On September 10, 2021, President Biden announced his COVID-19 Action Plan. He will be implementing a six-pronged, comprehensive national strategy that uses the same science-based approach that has been successful in the past. The President’s plan to combat COVID-19 this fall has six main components: vaccinating the unvaccinated, furthering protection for the vaccinated, keeping schools safely open, increasing testing and requiring masking, protecting economic recovery, and improving care for those with COVID-19.
The first component, vaccinating the unvaccinated, will reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by: requiring all employers with 100+ employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly; requiring vaccination for all federal workers and for millions of contractors that do business with the federal government, including Indian Health Service (IHS) employees; requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers at Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals and other healthcare settings, including those in Indian Country; calling on large entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing for entry, such as sports arenas, large concert halls, or other venues where large groups of people gather; requiring employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off to get vaccinated.
The second component, furthering protection for the vaccinated, will depend on the authorization of boosters by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As soon as boosters are authorized, the Biden administration will be prepared to start offering booster shots as early as September 20. The goals of the second component of this plan are to: provide easy access to booster shots for all eligible Americans, which will also be free and widely available, and to ensure Americans know where to get a booster when they become available. To reduce the stress of finding available vaccinations we saw in the initial vaccine roll-out, individuals will be able to find a vaccination site by asking their Tribal, IHS or Urban Indian Health Center provider, by visiting Vaccines.gov, or by calling 1-800-232-0233.
One of the top priorities of the Biden administration has been the third component – keeping schools safely open. Vaccines are our best defense against COVID-19, and many of the steps to reach this goal involve staff vaccine requirements in schools, including Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools, and calling upon all states to adopt staff vaccine requirements in all schools. Additionally, the administration plans to provide additional funding to school districts for safe reopening, using the Department of Education’s full legal authority to protect students’ access to in-person instruction, getting students and school staff tested regularly, and providing every resource to the FDA to support timely review of vaccines for individuals under the age of 12.
The fourth component of President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan is to increase testing and require masking. To do this, the administration plans to: mobilize industry to expand easy-to-use testing production to provide tests for several populations in need such as long-term care facilities, community testing sites, critical infrastructure, shelters, prisons and jails, and others; make at-home tests more affordable by offering at-home rapid COVID-19 tests from retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger at a reduced price; send free rapid at-home tests to food banks and community health centers to ensure that every American has access to COVID-19 testing; expand the number of retail pharmacy sites around the country where people can get tested for free through the Health and Human Services (HHS) free testing program; continue to require masking for interstate travel and double fines for those who are not in compliance; continue to require masking on federal property, including federal lands, military bases, and federal buildings, including all IHS buildings and offices.
To achieve the fifth component, protecting economic recovery, the Biden administration plans to: strengthen the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which will provide new support for small businesses impacted by COVID-19; streamline the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness for small loans if they use the funds to keep employees on payroll; launch the Community Navigator program to connect small businesses in underserved communities to federal, state, and local resources they might need.
The final component, improving care for those with COVID-19, will focus on treating people infected with COVID-19 and helping hard-hit healthcare systems in the most impacted areas. To do this, the Biden administration plans to: increase support for COVID-burdened hospitals by doubling the number of Department of Defense (DOD) teams of clinicians deployed to support hospitals battling a surge in COVID-19 cases; get life-saving monoclonal antibody treatment to those who need it by increasing the pace of shipments of free monoclonal antibody treatment to states; expand the pool of healthcare professionals providing treatment by deploying federal monoclonal antibody strike teams to ensure that more patients can have access to lifesaving COVID-19 therapeutics.
In the weeks ahead, the President will announce additional steps to build on the progress the administration has made to combat this pandemic globally.
Read the White House COVID-19 Plan.