After Vaccine Roll Out, Biden’s Next Task - Get Millions Back To Work

The President-elect Joe Biden ran on a platform to address climate change, remedy inequality, resurrect the economy, and implement a more focused COVID-19 strategy but he faces some tough challenges delivering.

It appears that Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna should be rolling out vaccines soon, but it will take months to inoculate most Americans. Deploying vaccines beyond high-income countries and China could take even greater effort.

Pfizer’s vaccine will likely come first but must be stored at minus 94 Fahrenheit, and many places lack adequate freezer capacity. About half of all Americans are reluctant to take a vaccine.

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Image Source: Pixabay

COVID strategies

Biden needs to explain to the nation that Asian countries and Norway and Finland have enjoyed more success containing the virus by submitting to frequent tests, rigorous contact tracing, and strict quarantining for those testing positive or who have been exposed. And implement similar strategies with state governors.

Once we have vaccines, Biden, Kamala Harris and their cabinet should spread across the nation to take their shots in public view.

Biden is correct to warn this winter will be long and dark. Infection rates will come down only slowly, and restaurants and stores will continue at limited capacity. Many who have lost jobs will have few decent opportunities for re-employment at their former occupations.

Most moratoriums on mortgage and student loan payments and evictions will end Dec. 31, and many of the unemployed will have run through their state benefits.

State and local governments will lose $434 billion in revenue over two years and have shed well over a million employees.

Disruptive changes in economy

A stimulus bill to extend unemployment benefits and aid to the states is lacking thanks to gridlock. Even if Biden can broker a deal between Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, some 4 million to 5 million will be added to the rolls of permanently unemployed. Nearly 100,000 small businesses have closed permanently, and COVID-19 has accelerated disruptive changes in business practices, work locations and consumer habits—many of those will only partially reverse.

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Peter Morici is an economist and professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and widely published columnist. He is the five time winner of the MarketWatch best forecaster ...

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