ISSN 2330-717X

The Virus Doesn’t Know There’s A New US President – OpEd

By

The promise of widespread vaccination is still out of reach for most Americans. A month after the country’s first vaccinations, there’s no federal data showing who is receiving the vaccine.

By Nikhila Natarajan

The coronavirus doesn’t know that the United States has a new president. One full year after COVID-19 arrived in the US — the first case was reported on 21 January 2020 — the pandemic’s winter surge has dragged the US to another awful milestone: More than 400,000 Americans are dead, more than 24 million have been infected and the virus isn’t finished with the US.

The promise of widespread vaccination is still out of reach for most Americans. A month after the country’s first vaccinations, there’s no federal data showing who is receiving the vaccine.

On Day One, the new US president Joe Biden inherits this “mess” as his Chief of Staff Ron Klain calls it. Biden has promised to “manage the hell out of this operation,” setting an ambitious agenda for the first 100 days that includes a national mask mandate, swift vaccinations and direct payments to people hurting from the economic collapse.

Biden is leaning on what he calls his “crisis tested” team. There’s a lot to “manage the hell out of.”

Here’s what his challenge looks like, in numbers:

24,186,358: Total number of infections in the United States, on 19 January 2021, the last full day of the Trump presidency.

400,292: Total number of US deaths as on 19 January 2021. By the first weekend after Biden takes over, the toll is likely to surge beyond the number of Americans killed in World War II.

566,720: A University of Washington predictive model projects deaths will reach nearly 567,000 by 1 May, coinciding with 100 days of the Biden presidency. US deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 100,000 in late May 2020 and tripled by mid-December.

120,000: Number of patients currently hospitalised with COVID-19.

4,400: Number of deaths the US recorded on a single day the week before 20 January.

965,000: The number of people seeking unemployment benefits in the final week of the Trump presidency. Before the pandemic, the weekly number hovered around the 225,000 mark, spiked to 7 million in the early days of the pandemic and settled around 700,000 per week since Fall 2020.

6 months: At the current pace of vaccine shipments to New York, it could take six months or more to get shots to 7 million residents already eligible under federal guidelines. New York governor Andrew Cuomo now wants to buy direct from vaccine manufacturers.

18 million: Number of unemployment insurance payments being made every week, according to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen. She has called for a “sweeping” response, just like the damage.

66: Average daily virus cases per 100,000 population for the seven days ended 17 January.

31 million: Number of vaccine doses distributed as of 15 January. This includes vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna approved for emergency use in the final weeks of December 2020.

80%: Percentage of deaths among those aged 65 and older.

50,000: Number of lives that Biden team “experts” have said will be saved by April if people obeyed the mask mandate.

34%: Infection rates are up by this much in recent weeks, according to Biden.

100,000: Biden aims to have these many people in his public health force, inspired by Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps.

100: Biden has promised these many federally supported vaccination centers across the nation within the first month in office.

19.5%: Percentage of US deaths in global toll. The US accounts for nearly 1 of every 5 virus deaths reported worldwide. It has led the global toll for the entire time that the coronavirus has raged within its borders.

$1.9 trillion: The magic number for the virus relief package Biden hopes to push through Congress. This includes direct payments to Americans who qualify based on annual earnings and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

14.7 million: Combined total number of vaccines administered in the US including the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Pfizer got emergency approval earlier and accounts for a slightly higher number in total vaccinations.

142: Number of Black Americans per 100,000 cases. Blacks account for 16% of COVID-19 deaths where race is known.

1,384,963: Number of doses administered so far in long term care facilities — which have the highest burden of disease.

200 million: Number of doses that the Trump administration has ordered from Pfizer for its two-shot vaccine. This will be enough for 100 million people and is being purchased at $19.50 per dose.

120 days: The amount of time it took for the US to reach a death toll of 100,000.

~30 days: The amount of time it took for the US to go from 300,000 to 400,000 COVID-19 related fatalities.


Data from transcripts of Joe Biden’s recent speeches, Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboardCovid TrackingCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Labour.

Observer Research Foundation

Observer Research Foundation

ORF was established on 5 September 1990 as a private, not for profit, ’think tank’ to influence public policy formulation. The Foundation brought together, for the first time, leading Indian economists and policymakers to present An Agenda for Economic Reforms in India. The idea was to help develop a consensus in favour of economic reforms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.