This week, Health and Humanitarian Services Secretary Alex Hazard warned President Donald Trump that despite what he described as HHS achievements under his supervision, “Trump’s post-election actions and rhetoric … threaten to tarnish these and other historical legacies.” this administration. ”
“The attacks on the Capitol were an attack on our democracy,” Hazard said in a letter published this week before he left the government on January 20th. “Please continue to condemn unequivocally any form of violence … and continue to unreservedly support a peaceful and orderly transition of power. “
Unlike @CNN chyron, I̵7;m still here serving the American people at HHS. I believe it is my duty to help ensure a smooth transition to the newly elected president’s team during the pandemic, and he will remain secretary until 20 January. Pic.twitter.com/zXe1y2om1k
– Secretary Alex Azar (@SecAzar) January 16, 2021
However, despite his reproach to Trump, Azar’s resignation letter, which took effect at noon on the day he took office, is more of a formality than anything else. Two secretaries of Trump’s cabinet resigned in protest earlier in January after the deadly attack on the US Capitol, but Hazard was not among them.
In December, President-elect Joe Biden nominated California Attorney General Xavier Betsera to replace Hazard as secretary of the HHS in the Biden administration.
Political appointees usually resign before the new administration takes office, but until recently, according to the New York Times, Trump was reluctant to ask for them as he continued to wage a doomed crusade against American democracy in a futile attempt to stay in office.
Last week, however, the Trump administration gave way to reality and demanded these letters from about 4,000 political appointees currently serving in the government, including Hazard.
In addition to using his letter as a warning to Trump – who was implicated for the second time this week to incite an uprising – Azar also wrote a list of achievements in his approximately three-year term in the HHS (Azar is the HHS’s second secretary in the HHS administration). Trump).
A diverse collection of initiatives – drug pricing, the opioid crisis and inequalities in rural health care to name a few – are mentioned, but the Trump administration’s failed response to the coronavirus received the highest fees in the letter.
“As long as we mourn every life lost,” Hazard wrote of the coronavirus pandemic, which currently kills more than 392,000 people in the United States, “our early, aggressive, and comprehensive efforts saved hundreds of thousands or even millions of Americans.”
In fact, much of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus – from its earliest days to the present day, when the country reports an average of 231,675 cases a day – is rampant and incompetent, and even the spread of vaccines in the United States has become something as a disaster, as the number of early vaccinations is very lagging behind for administration purposes and even some doses of the vaccine are thrown away unnecessarily.
Nevertheless, Hazard praised Operation Warp Speed - a boost to the Trump administration’s vaccine – in his letter, which he claims “achieved in nine months what many doubted would be possible in a year and half or more. “
This is not completely False: As Vox’s Umair Irfan explained in December, developing a vaccine as fast as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines was actually an “incomparable scientific feat.”
But again, part of the vaccine effort designed to be handled directly by the Trump administration – namely, the distribution of the vaccine, created by scientists in the private sector – is fraught with costly mistakes.
Even this week, as the United States approaches the one-year anniversary of the country’s first known Covid-19 case, there were problems. Although Hazard told states earlier this week that the administration would begin releasing doses of vaccines that had previously been reserved for a second shot, it appears there are none to be released.
According to a Washington Post lie on Friday, the Trump administration had already begun delivering those doses late last year, leaving vaccine supplies largely depleted.
Improper communication is likely to have consequences at the state level. According to Oregon Health Director Patrick Allen in a letter to Hazard, the lack of additional doses “puts our plans to expand eligibility at serious risk. These plans are based on the reliance on your “full supply release” statement that you have in reserve. If this information [about the depleted vaccine reserve] is correct, we will not be able to start vaccinating our vulnerable elderly people on January 23, as planned. “
Biden has an ambitious plan to correct the US response to Covid-19
However, the new Biden administration is committed to correcting the coronavirus response in the United States and speeding up the pace of vaccinations, with the goal of administering 100 million doses of vaccine in the first 100 days of work.
“This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts we have ever made as a nation,” Biden said Thursday of the vaccination effort in the United States. “We will have to move heaven and earth to vaccinate more people, create more vaccination sites, mobilize more medical teams to make shots in people’s hands.”
Instead of succeeding Operation Warp Speed, according to Biden’s incoming spokeswoman Jen Psaki, the new administration will create its own vaccine program, with former Chicago Health Commissioner Beshara Chukair leading the effort as vaccine coordinator.
OWS is the name of Trump’s team for their program. We are gradually introducing a new structure that will bear a different name from OWS. Many government officials will be essential to our response, but the urgent need to address the failures of Trump’s team’s approach to vaccine distribution
– Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) January 15, 2021
According to Lopez of Germany, Vox, the federal government will also play a more important role in administering vaccines under Biden’s administration, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard helping to set up new vaccine clinics.
In addition, Biden’s plan, the most detailed form of which was still released on Friday, calls for expanding vaccine eligibility, stricter use of the Defense Manufacturing Act to speed up vaccine production, more public health workers and education. vaccination promotion campaign.
These initiatives are also likely to be backed by a large influx of funding: Biden announced a $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package this week, including – if Congress approves – $ 400 billion to respond to the US coronavirus.
As Lopez writes, this is a promising start:
Biden’s plan hits a lot of the assessments I’ve heard from experts over the past few weeks as I ask them what goes wrong with the spread of vaccines in America.
First, the plan has clear objectives to address what supply chain experts call the “last mile” – the way vaccines go from storage to injection in patients – by making sure there is enough staff, infrastructure and plans to actually drop weapons. Second, it is taking steps to ensure that supply chain problems are addressed proactively, with careful monitoring and use of federal forces when necessary to address bottlenecks. Last but not least, there is a public education campaign to ensure that Americans really want to get vaccinated when it’s their turn.
However, implementation will not be easy and needs to be rushed: the United States reported more than 4,000 deaths in one day for the first time earlier this month and continues to report an average of more than 200,000 new cases per day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warned this week that a recently discovered more transmissible strain of Covid-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States and could lead to an even more catastrophic number of deaths in the near future. Rapid vaccination is seen as the best way to reduce the threat of this new strain and to reduce the number of new cases in general.
“We have the worst ahead of us,” CDC Director Robert Redfield warned in an interview with NPR on Friday. “And I think if you had listened to my comments in August and September, I told people that I really think December, January and February will be the roughest time there has ever been from a public health standpoint. “