A superpower powerless against the virus - GulfToday

A superpower powerless against the virus

Joe Biden

Difficult times for President Joe Biden as the new Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads in the United States. AP

If there is one top nation which is seeing no marked improvement in tamping down coronavirus cases, it is the United States.

However, the Americans are determined to see the trend reversed.

In this connection, President Joe Biden on Thursday announced new measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the new Delta variant in the United States that will affect millions of workers in the government sector and ordinary citizens.

It is not just the battle against the coronavirus that is at stake, but all the concomitant baggage that comes with it, including vaccine messages and misinformation owing to which the United States is lagging behind other countries, despite a host of free vaccines in existence.

Government employees and onsite contractors have to attest they have been fully vaccinated or they will be mandated to wear a mask on the job, physically distance from all other staff and visitors, obey a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to curbs while travelling officially.

The requirements hit over two million federal staff and millions more who work on federal contracts. A 2017 study said the US government had over 3.5 million contractors but it was not clear how many are on site in federal buildings.

Biden wants many visitors to government offices buildings or those attending government conferences to prove that they have taken a vaccine shot or procured a report saying their Covid test was negative within the last three days.

The Defence Department will also review how and when they will conduct the required vaccinations for members of the military. The US military has over a million enlisted personnel and officers and more than 700,000 civilian members.

The government is dangling carrots before the people. Biden said government workers will be paid if they take time off to get vaccinated or go with their children to vaccination centres and will get time off to recover from the effects of a vaccine shot.

Cottage industries and medium sized industries will be reimbursed for offering employees paid leave to get family members, including children, vaccinated. Biden is also using the financial carrot: he is offering $100 to citizens to get vaccinated, a step New York City has already taken. They can use federal funds to pay for the incentives.

Biden wants school districts nationwide to host at least one pop-up vaccination clinic over the coming weeks to get students vaccinated.

The sharply rising coronavirus cases across the United States and abroad fuelled fears of a pandemic resurgence on Monday and sent shockwaves through stock markets as the highly contagious Delta variant appeared to be taking hold.

The problem is that many Americans are reluctant to take the jab, and this is where the outbreaks end upcapitalising on this lacuna, resulting in new outbreaks in several parts of the country.

The higher rates of vaccination in states with low number of people vaccinated could impact the economy, which is dependent on better control of the pandemic.

The average number of daily new COVID-19 cases in the United States has tripled in the past 30 days, according to a report, climbing to 32,136 on Sunday.

Millions of Americans were rendered jobless and small business enterprises shuttered due to nationwide clampdowns last year.

Already cases in southern California are going north very fast, so Los Angeles County has ordered residents to wear masks indoors again.

The Delta variant is responsible for 90 per cent of current new cases in Utah’s Salt Lake County. It is pitiable that a nation that considers itself a superpower is powerless against the pandemic.

Priority must be given to obeying rules rather than observed them in the breach.

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