The number of COVID-19 cases is hitting a record high all across the U.S., suggesting the second coronavirus wave is underway. President-elect Joe Biden said fighting the pandemic will be his top order of business, but with his inauguration more than two months away, there is concern the fight against the virus could be insurmountable by then.
Among those vying for immediate action to be taken is Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif. 7th District), who worked as a doctor before he was elected to Congress.
"We all know the outcome of this presidential election. I would hope the career scientists and others at the FDA, at the CDC, would start working with the Biden administration. And you're seeing some of that messaging change a little bit, but Donald Trump's unpredictable," Bera told Cheddar.
It's not just Americans' health at stake; it is also the health of the U.S. economy Bera is concerned about. Last week 709,000 Americans applied for first-time unemployment benefits. While that number better than expected, jobless claims are still exceedingly high across the U.S., a sign that relief for Americans should remain a priority, Bera said.
"I don't think we can wait until January 20th. I think we've got to get something done in this Congress, in the lame-duck session," he continued.
Getting the Vaccine Out
The California congressman suggested that the Biden administration will provide a "180-degrees difference" when it comes to strategizing the country's way out of the pandemic and will be led by science. Still, he believes there will be difficulty in distributing a vaccine once it becomes widely available.
"This is going to be a major logistical lift here in terms of how you get that out there, particularly if it is the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine because of the cold storage issues. They have to be kept at very cold temperatures," he explained.
When it comes to distributing the vaccine, Bera said workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, those at high risk of infection, and people in the hardest-hit communities should be tended to first.
With the holidays just weeks away, the pandemic is only expected to worsen and until a vaccine is ready, Bera said Americans must do their part and move responsibly.
"Everyone really should take the caution, wear a mask, avoid big gatherings, particularly big indoor gatherings," he said.
The government should also prepare the public for a vaccine, if and when it becomes available. "Between now and when that vaccine's available, let's have positive messaging and reassure the public that the science is going to drive when that vaccine is ready," he said