President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday promised that his administration would oversee the injection of 100 million Covid-19 vaccine shots within his first 100 days as president and vowed to reopen a “majority” of schools across the nation in the same time frame.
Biden, who spoke from Wilmington, Delaware, at an event in which he also announced the top members of his health care team, promised that educators, along with health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, would be among the targets for the first round of Covid-19 vaccinations.
In addition, Biden reiterated that he would call on Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration, adding that he would sign an executive order on his first day in office to mandate mask use where he could “under the law,” such as in federal buildings and during interstate travel on planes trains and buses.
"Masking, vaccinations, opening schools,” Biden said. “These are the three key goals of my first 100 days.”
Biden's announcement came at the same time President Donald Trump used a vaccine summit event at the White House to air grievances about the 2020 election. No Biden official was invited to participate in the vaccine summit, a transition official told NBC News.
In his remarks, Biden called on Congress to help fund those efforts, saying that without the necessary federal funding, the efforts would “slow and stall.”
Calling Covid-19 a “mass casualty,” Biden also warned Americans that “things may well get worse before they get better,” cautioning that “It will take longer than we would like to distribute” a vaccine to everyone in the country.
“My first 100 days wont end the Covid virus, I can’t promise that,” Biden said. But, he added, "in 100 days, we can change course of disease and change life in America for the better.”
Biden said it was a “national priority to get our kids back to school,” but repeatedly promised his team would “follow the science.”
Biden used the event to formally introduce his nominees and appointees for his health team, including his choice of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to head the Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a leading expert on virus testing, prevention and treatment, to serve as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden also formally introduced Dr. Vivek Murthy as his pick for surgeon general and said the top federal infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, would take on the additional role of chief medical adviser. Former National Economic Council director Jeff Zients was named coordinator of the Covid-19 response.
Biden lauded his steam as a group of "world class experts" who would "spare not a single effort to get this pandemic under control."