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Biden says masks ‘best defense’ against coronavirus even as vaccination campaign ramps up

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The brutal truth is, it’s going to take months before we can the majority of Americans vaccinated’

President Biden said Tuesday that masks are “the best defense against COVID-19” in the coming months as his administration acquires a sufficient supply of vaccine to innoculate the majority of Americans.

Biden revealed the federal government will purchase an additional 100 million doses of vaccine each from Pfizer and Moderna as part of its effort to ramp up the unprecedented vaccination drive. Even with the acquisition of more vaccine supplies, Biden warned that distribution will take time and other precautions, such as wearing masks, should remain a priority for Americans.

“The brutal truth is, it’s going to take months before we can the majority of Americans vaccinated – months,” Biden said. “In the next few months, masks, not vaccines, are the best defense against COVID-19. Experts say that wearing masks from now just until April would save 50,000 lives that otherwise would pass away if we don’t wear these masks

Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office requiring masks to be worn on federal land. He has repeatedly called on governors to impose statewide mandates until the pandemic is under control.

Between its existing supply and additional purchases, the federal government will have enough doses for 300 million Americans by the early fall, according to Biden. The administration plans to increase the distribution of vaccine doses in states to at least 10 million doses per week, up from 8.6 million under the current plan.

In addition, states will receive a “three-week forecast” on what to expect in terms of supply.

“We will both increase the supply in the short-term by more than 15% and give our states and local partners more certainty about when deliveries will arrive,” Biden said. “These two steps are going to increase our prospects of hitting or exceeding, God willing, the ambitious goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.”

President Joe Biden this week will impose a ban on most non-U.S. citizens entering the country who have recently been in South Africa in a bid to contain the spread of a new variant of COVID-19, according to U.S. public health officials. The president will also reimpose an entry ban on nearly all non-U.S. travelers who have been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and 26 countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders, the sources told Reuters. Former President Donald Trump directed on Jan. 18 that those restrictions on Brazil and Europe be lifted effective Tuesday, but Biden’s proclamation will rescind that decision. Biden, who took office on Wednesday, is taking an aggressive approach to combating the spread of the virus in travel after Trump rejected mandates sought by U.S. health agencies. COVID-19'S FINANCIAL TOLL MOUNTS AS HOMEOWNERS KEEP POSTPONING MORTGAGE PAYMENTS Some health officials are concerned that current vaccines may not be effective against the South African variant, which also raises the prospect of re-infection. The variant -- also known as the 501Y.V2 variant -- is 50% more infectious and has been detected in at least 20 countries. CDC officials said they would be open to adding additional countries to the list if needed. The South African variant has not yet been found in the United States but at least 20 U.S. states have detected a UK variant known as B.1.1.7. Current vaccines appear effective against the UK mutations. NEW YORK LOST 1 MILLION JOBS IN 2020 DUE TO COVID-19 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director (CDC) head Rochelle Walensky will sign a separate order Monday requiring masks on all airplanes, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-share vehicles, officials said. The new requirements are set to take effect in the coming days, they said. On Tuesday, new CDC rules take effect requiring all international air travelers 2 and older to present a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel or proof of recovery from COVID-19 to enter the United States. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS The CDC will not, as it said on Jan. 12, consider granting temporary waivers to airlines to exempt some travelers from countries with limited testing capacity. Numerous U.S. airlines last week had asked CDC for waivers, airline officials said. But CDC officials said they would consider case-by-case humanitarian exemptions for some travelers if needed. CDC officials noted 120 countries currently have mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements for international travel.

Biden credited the “prior administration” as well as the scientific community for their efforts facilitating the development of viable vaccines. At the same time, the president said the Trump administration was uncooperative during the transition and noted the vaccine program inherited from his predecessor was “in worse shape than we anticipated.”

More than 424,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 to date, according to Johns Hopkins University’s database. The death toll is expected to surpass 500,000 by the end of February.

Credit: Foxnew (foxnews.com/politics/biden-masks-best-defense-against-coronavirus-vaccination-campaign-ramps-up)

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