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Biden's First 100 Days And Central Florida's Fight Against Coronavirus

Joe Biden discusses his plan for vaccinations on January 15th.
Joe Biden discusses his plan for vaccinations on January 15th.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in at a pared down ceremony at the White House yesterday. The new administration inherits some huge challenges, none more urgent than the ongoing pandemic which has killed more than 400,000 Americans. 

When it comes to the pandemic- the response to the virus and the vaccine rollout- what changes can we expect, and how will it affect Central Florida's approach to fighting COVID-19? 

Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security; Justin Senior, Chief Executive of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida and WMFE health reporter Abe Aboraya join Intersection discuss the coronavirus response, including policy and logistics. Can this administration deliver on the goal of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days? 

Adalja says he's concerned about new variants to the virus emerging in Florida.

"So we have to get better at hand washing, wearing face coverings avoiding crowded and congregated places. And this really puts a lot of pressure on getting as many vaccines into people's arms as possible. We're basically in a race between these new variants and our vaccinations."

Adalja says he's optimistic the new administration can set a different tone in the fight against the pandemic- especially when it comes to vaccinations.

"We have data on our side, we have science on our side. And I think when we get out of this kind of immediate atmosphere of misinformation, and outright lying and evasion that was coming from the White House, you're probably going to see more willingness to accept the science based on this vaccine."

Senior says hospitals are able to ramp up vaccinations quickly, but they have been hampered by short supplies of the vaccine and lack of clarity about when they can get more doses.

Our hospitals have the ability with about 48 hours notice maybe maybe 72 hours notice to be able to do 20,000 to 25,000 vaccinations a day. And we're just we're just 14 hospital systems, out of over 200 hospitals in the state of Florida," says Senior.

"The governor knows that there's been good communication in terms of what our capacity is. But ultimately, we need to know what the supply is going to be. And so by the Biden administration saying 'this is our expectation', hopefully that does help the situation so that everybody can can kind of rise to the level to meet that expectation."

Aboraya says one of the biggest changes may be in how information is relayed from the federal government.

"I would expect there to be some more clarity because one of the things that the Biden ministration has put emphasis on, at least in its transition process, has been transparency. They have talked about building some of these public facing dashboards that will give a little bit more information," says Aboraya.