In the past 24 hours, President-elect Joe Biden has made two speeches on the nation’s covid response.
Thursday night he put forward a $ 1.9 trillion plan to tackle what he calls “Twin crises” of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy.
Biden suggested, among other things, that Congress allocate funds to implement a national vaccination program, reopen schools, send $ 1,400 checks to Americans in need, support small businesses, and expand unemployment insurance. He also suggested increasing subsidies for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act and providing more support for housing, nutrition and childcare.
The plan is ambitious and is likely to be pushed back in Congress. (Read PolitiFact’s analysis here.)
Friday afternoon he offered a more detailed account of his vaccine distribution schedule.
On his first day in office, he would instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up mass vaccination centers across the country. Biden pledged to have 100 of these locations up and running by the end of his first month in office.
He also said his government will work with pharmacies across the country to distribute the vaccine more effectively and apply the Defense Production Act to ensure adequate vaccine supplies. His government will also launch a public awareness campaign to address vaccine hesitation and ensure that marginalized communities are reached.
Biden claimed during the speech that he intended to meet the goal of “100 million shots in the first 100 days in office”. He also said he would stick with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent recommendation to distribute covid vaccines to those 65 years of age and older, as well as key workers, in order to urge states to allocate supplies quickly.
During his speech on Thursday setting out what he calls the “American Rescue Plan,” Biden made several claims about the current response to the pandemic and its impact on Americans. We have checked some of the statements made by the President-elect and put them into context.
“The introduction of vaccines in the US has so far been a dismal failure.”
The introduction of the vaccine does not live up to the officials’ promises. About 30 million doses have been shipped since mid-December when the first vaccines were distributed, according to a tracker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But only about 11 million were actually put into the arms of the Americans. The Department of Health and Human Services originally set a target of 20 million doses by the end of December.
A main reason for the slow pace, experts say, is that many state and local health departments lack the funds and resources to conduct such a mass vaccination campaign. Communication with the federal government was also difficult. Many states have complained that they are not informed about how much vaccine to receive and when – which makes logistical planning difficult. Additionally, the outgoing Trump administration recently changed its recommendations for qualifications, adding an additional layer of confusion.
However, public health experts say part of the reason the slow adoption was because it happened over the December vacation when many sites were understaffed. And since Congress passed a second covid incentive bill, states will receive roughly $ 3 billion in funding, which will aid the effort.
“One in seven households in America – more than one in five black and Latin American households in America – says they do not have enough to eat.”
That’s right. Estimates vary based on the exact number of Americans living in households where food is unsafe. However, Biden’s numbers are in line with the latest US Census Bureau figures. The numbers correspond to about 14% of all households and 20% of black and Latin American households.
The Census Bureau estimates food insecurity during the pandemic in a weekly report. According to December figures, 14% of adults in the country said their households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past seven days. The December data also shows that 24% of black households and 21% of Latin American households did not have enough to eat.
A Northwestern University study estimates that at one point during the pandemic, nearly 23% of households were food insecure.
“These crises strain the budgets of states, cities and tribal communities that are forced to accommodate layoffs and restrictions on services for the most needed workers.”
That’s right. State and local governments are generally required by law to balance their operating budgets, which leads to layoffs and cuts in services – even though state aid through covidal aid has helped. Late last year, the Brookings Institution projected state and local revenue declines by $ 155 billion in 2020 and $ 167 billion in 2021. According to a report from the Center for Budget and Political Priorities, states and municipalities had 1 , 2 million workers on leave or laid off October 2020. Brookings also noted that state and local governments “are at the forefront of the pandemic response” and “likely need to increase their typical spending to provide critical public health services and the Help communities adapt to social distancing guidelines. ”
In addition, news starting early last summer reports high numbers of healthcare workers being laid off or losing their jobs during the pandemic. Public health workers were also on leave or worked fewer hours, despite having to set up covid test sites, initiate contact tracing programs, and now run mass vaccination campaigns.
“Last year alone, over 600,000 educators lost their jobs in our cities.”
This is a softened version of an earlier claim about dismissed “teachers” that we evaluated Mostly wrong. That figure likely relates to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that local government educational jobs fell by 666,000 from March to October.
However, this number doesn’t just refer to layoffs. Rather, a net loss of jobs is determined. Reports show that some educators quit, retired, or took leave during the pandemic.
It’s also not clear what type of educators Biden was referring to, and although the BLS tracks layoffs data by industry, it aggregates state and local education data, meaning it includes the number of public college employees. The BLS data shows that 39,000 state and local educators were fired or fired from March through October.
Associated Press, “Leavers Leaving Schools Looking for Reps,” Sep 13, 2020
Becker’s Hospital Report, “Record Number of Lay Off Healthcare Workers On Leave During the Pandemic,” June 5, 2020
The Brookings Institution: “How Badly Is COVID-19 Harming State and Local Revenues?” September 24, 2020
Office for labor statistics, employment, working hours and income from the current survey on employment statistics (national), accessed on January 15, 2021
Office for Labor Statistics, Vacancies and Employment Sales Survey, accessed January 15, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID Data Tracker – Vaccinations, accessed January 15, 2021
Center for Budgetary and Policy Priorities, “Tracking the Impact of the COVID-19 Recession on Food, Housing and Employment Difficulties,” January 8, 2021 (updated January 15)
Center for Budgetary and Policy Priorities, “Pandemic Impact on Government Revenue Less Than Previously Expected but Still Serious,” October 30, 2020
US Census Bureau, Household Impulse Survey Data Tables, accessed January 15, 2021
Kaiser Health News and Associated Press, “The Undermined Public Health System Faces More Virus Cuts,” July 1, 2020
Northwestern University: How Much Has Food Insecurity Risen? Evidence from Census Survey on Household Impulse, ”June 10, 2020
NPR, “As Hospitals Lose Revenue, More than One Million Healthcare Workers Lose Jobs,” May 8, 2020
PolitiFact, “Biden Characterizes Pandemic Teacher Dismissals,” Nov. 20, 2020
Rev.com, “Joe Biden Speech Transcript on COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan,” accessed January 15, 2021