- First case of “British” strain of coronavirus discovered in the USA
- Biden stated that Defense Production Act will be used to speed up vaccination
- US Senate delays voting on ‘stimulus checks’
First Case of “British” Strain of Coronavirus Discovered in the USA
In the United States the first case of infection with a new strain of coronavirus, which was previously detected in the UK, was recorded in Colorado.
“Today we have identified the first case of Covid-19 B.1.1.7 in Colorado – the same one found in the United Kingdom,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced.
“There is a lot we don’t know about this new Covid-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority, and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely,” Polis said.
It was noted that the person who caught the mutation, which was stated to be much more contagious, was a male in his 20s, had no travel history, and is currently kept in isolation.
Health officials stated that they are trying to identify other potential cases and performing contact tracing to determine the spread of the strain throughout the state.
The strain is probably still uncommon in the U.S. for the moment, but the lack of travel history in the first case means it is spreading, probably starting in November or December by travelers from the UK, said scientist Trevor Bedford, who studies the spread of Covid-19 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
“Now I’m worried there will be another spring wave due to the variant,” Bedford said. “It’s a race with the vaccine, but now the virus has just gotten a little bit faster.”
Polis and state health officials are expected hold a news conference today.
Biden stated that Defense Production Act will be Used to Speed up Vaccination
The distribution of vaccines and the production of vaccines will be accelerated with the help of the Defense Production Act, which the future US president intends to introduce.
US President-elect Joe Biden said that after his inauguration, he would apply the defense production act to quickly spread coronavirus vaccines in the country.
“In order to speed up the distribution of vaccines, I will enact the defense production act after I take office,” said the Democrat. To be noted, his inauguration is scheduled for January 20, 2021.
“After taking the oath, I will use my powers under the Defense Manufacturing Act to order the private industry to expedite the production of vaccine supplies and protective equipment,” Biden said.
The mentioned law, enacted in 1950, gives the president the power to increase the production of certain goods in order to strengthen national security. The Trump administration is spreading the coronavirus vaccine in the country much more slowly than previously envisioned, Biden said.
Speaking in Delaware, Biden stated that while 2 million people will be vaccinated in the US by the end of the year, this figure remained below the 20 million promised by Donald Trump by the end of the year.
“Our efforts to distribute and administer the vaccine are not progressing as they should. “At the current pace, it will take years, not months, to instill the American people, ” he said.
Trump responded to Biden on Twitter by shifting blame to state officials, whom he said are responsible for distribution.
“It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government,” he wrote. “We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten them to the states.”
US Senate Delays Voting on ‘Stimulus Checks’
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed voting on a proposal to increase financial aid to Americans from $600 to $2,000.
McConnell also asked Republicans to vote again, exceeding the veto given to President Donald Trump’s defense budget, whose term expires next month.
The US House of Representatives approved an increase in per capita financial aid to Americans from $600 to $2,000 and sent it to the Senate for voting.
Most Republican senators oppose the additional coronavirus spending, which would cost the US government $484bn, even if they are also wary of bucking Trump who repeated his demand in a tweet: “$2000 for our great people, not $600!”
Following Trump’s lead, Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio, among the party’s potential 2024 presidential hopefuls, are pushing for the $2,000 cheques. “We’ve got the votes. Let’s vote today,” Hawley tweeted.
McConnell proposed to incorporate the president’s demand for larger checks with two initiatives that Trump needs, i.e. non-starters for Democrats, content limits on technology firms such as Facebook or Twitter and the formation of a commission to investigate Trump’s fraud claims in the presidential election.
“Senator McConnell knows how to make $2,000 survival checks reality and he knows how to kill them,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.