Biden vows rapid steps to battle virus after inauguration

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Surfers carry their boards along the beach front during a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the oronavirus, In Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

MARIETTA, Ga. – Here’s what’s happening Sunday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.:


— President-elect Joe Biden plans immediate moves aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic within days after he's sworn in Wednesday, his incoming chief of staff Ron Klain wrote in a memo to senior staff. They include extending the pause on student loan payments and actions meant to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic. Biden has set a goal of injecting 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine in his first 100 days in office, a goal Klain said they were on pace to meet. At his inauguration Wednesday, Biden will also deliver an appeal to national unity, expected to be a central theme of his speech, Klain told CNN’s “State of the Union" on Sunday.

— In West Virginia, small businesses are being hailed for helping the state to emerge as an early success story in the nation’s otherwise chaotic vaccine rollout. It’s largely a result of the state’s decision to enlist mom-and-pop pharmacies to give the shots, rather than agreeing to a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens. Now more shots have gone into people’s arms per capita across West Virginia than in any other state. Federal data shows that at least 7.5% of the population has received the first of two shots.

— The Navajo Nation reported 189 new cases of the coronavirus and seven more deaths as the reservation went into another weekend lockdown. The latest figures released Saturday night increased the number of cases to 26,287 with 915 known deaths. The Navajo Nation extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Residents of the vast reservation are required to stay home from Friday evening until early Monday morning, except for essential workers and in the case of an emergency.

THE NUMBERS: Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that the seven-day rolling average of new U.S. cases has risen from about 206,000 on Jan. 2 to more than 223,000. The seven-day rolling average of new deaths, meanwhile, climbed from about 2,600 on Jan. 2 to more than 3,300 on Saturday. That has pushed the country’s COVID-19 death toll to 395,855, virtually assuring that it will reach 400,000 by the time President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Wednesday.

QUOTABLE: “I think the West Virginia model is really one that we would love for a lot more states to adopt.” — John Beckner, a pharmacist who works at the Alexandria, Virginia-based National Community Pharmacists Association.

ICYMI: Several U.S. governors expressed frustration with the Trump administration after being assured that the federal government had enough vaccine stockpiled to speed up or expand state rollouts only to be later told those reserves don’t exist. Among them: Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who has been taking heat from the state’s Republican-led Legislature over the slow pace of vaccinations. Several other governors, including Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, were left scrambling to alter plans to expand the rollouts in their states, including to older residents.


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