WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The White House is hopeful when it comes to the direction the United States is moving in to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, thanks in part to the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” recently signed into law.
The bill President Joe Biden signed last week is helping with funding for COVID vaccine distribution, testing and support for schools. Members of the White House COVID-19 Task Force who testified before Congress Wednesday expressed optimism about reaching the president’s goal for vaccinating adults and getting more kids back to learning in person.
“We are getting better and better, and getting more and more people who now are willing to take a vaccine,” White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Dr. Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, told Congress the White House is doing everything it can to get the word out about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. He also encouraged members of Congress to join the effort.
“Maybe even publicly, that will really be helpful,” he said.
President Biden promised 100 million shots in arms in his first 100 days in office. The White House COVID-19 Task Force said Wednesday they’re on track to meet that goal, thanks to the “American Rescue Plan.”
“The speed of moving checks to the American public, the speed of vaccinations, the speed of testing dollars moving out into the field with over 10 billion getting out the door quickly,” Andy Slavitt of the White House Coronavirus Response Team said.
Of the money in the newly-signed legislation, $10 billion is going to support COVID-19 testing in schools. That comes as calls grow for kids to fully return to the classroom.
“So college students can go on spring break, and bars and restaurants can open in full capacity, but children can’t go back to school?” Rep. David McKinley, R-W.V., said.
Republicans in Congress want schools open now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking to update its guidance, potentially allowing more kids to fit in the classroom.
“Now we have emerging science that looks at the 3 feet vs. 6 feet rule,” CDC Director Rochelle Walenky said.
The Biden administration wants to open schools as soon as possible, according to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
“There’s no substitute for in-person learning,” he said.
The updated guidance from the CDC could be a game-changer in getting schools open. It would mean more students can be in one classroom, but they would still have to wear masks.