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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday
by alnationtalk onJanuary 21, 202144 Views
President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser on COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the United States will cease reducing U.S. staff counts at the World Health Organization and pay its financial obligations to it as it vows to stay fully engaged with the UN health agency to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am honoured to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Fauci told the WHO’s executive board meeting in Geneva via video conference. The administration announced just hours after Biden’s inauguration that the United States would revoke a planned pullout from the WHO in July that had been announced by the Trump administration.
Fauci’s quick commitment to WHO — whose response to the coronavirus outbreak was repeatedly berated by the Trump administration — marks a dramatic and vocal shift toward a multilateral approach to fighting the pandemic.
He said the Biden administration “will cease the drawdown of U.S. staff seconded to the WHO” and resume “regular engagement” with WHO. He added: “The United States also intends to fulfil its financial obligations to the organization.”
Biden will sign 10 executive orders on Thursday to fight the coronavirus pandemic, including directing that disaster funds be used to help reopen schools and requiring that people wear masks on planes and buses, officials said.
Biden, a Democrat who took over from Republican President Donald Trump on Wednesday, has promised a fierce fight against the pandemic that killed 400,000 people in the United States under Trump’s watch.
The U.S is entering “what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus and must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation,” Biden said in his inauguration speech.
One order will require mask-wearing in airports and on certain modes of public transportation, including many trains, airplanes and intercity buses, officials said.
He also plans to sign orders on Thursday to establish a COVID-19 testing board to ramp up testing, address supply shortfalls, establish protocols for international travellers and direct resources for minority communities hit hard by the infectious disease.
He plans to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reimburse states and Native American tribes fully for the costs associated with National Guard and emergency supply efforts to combat the virus. Biden’s measures also restore “full reimbursement” from the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund for costs related to reopening schools.
FEMA funds are typically disbursed after hurricanes, floods or other natural disasters. Institutions including hospitals can apply after Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency in March. The fund had previously been reimbursing 75 per cent of costs.
Biden plans to partner with state and local governments to establish vaccination spots in conference centres, stadiums and gymnasiums.
The new administration will also deploy thousands of clinical staff from federal agencies, military medical personnel and pharmacy chains to increase vaccinations, and make teachers and grocery clerks eligible.