More masks, more tests, more scientists: Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election will flip the United States’ coronavirus pandemic response to what doctors and scientists hope will be a long-overdue, full-throated, nationally coordinated effort that will save lives.
But the president-elect is being handed an unprecedented health crisis with no easy fixes. On his predecessor’s watch, the coronavirus infected upwards of 9 million Americans and killed more than 237,000. Access to a vaccine is likely months away. Public confidence in federal health agencies has eroded.
Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are surging across the country, more than two months before Biden will take office.And despite winning the election, Biden will need to persuade the 70 million-plus people who voted for Trump to accept his more aggressive strategy to combat the pandemic.
Any COVID relief funding he’ll want to pass to boost the economy will depend on a deeply divided Congress, with control of the Senate resting in the hands of Georgia voters in a double runoff in January.But with Biden in charge, the country at least has a chance of containing the outbreak, according to medical experts. They expect to see a night-and-day difference between him and President Donald Trump, who told the world not to fear the virus even when he was infected with it.
The Trump administration’s strategy consisted mostly of banking on a vaccine while giving up on preventing or slowing infections, flouting the guidance of his own top federal health officials.In contrast, Biden “respects scientists, he respects doctors,” Eric Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Translational Science Institute, told BuzzFeed News. “That’s something that will be refreshing, for sure.”