Local lawmakers pledge to work with Biden administration to reach COVID-19 relief goals

President Joe Biden
Posted at 3:14 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 10:13:13-05

NORFOLK, Va. - President Biden laid out his national strategy to battle the COVID-19 pandemic during his first full day in office.

Biden's calling for a more aggressive vaccination campaign, an enhanced mask mandate, and a ramping of testing. He's signing ten executive orders related to COVID-19 on Thursday.

Biden's potentially toughest challenge is his pledge to for 100 million vaccinations to happen during his first 100 days. "The Biden administration has set a very aggressive goal of 100 million Americans vaccinated by 100 days into the administration and that's going to be a challenging goal to reach," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said Thursday.

In Virginia, the Department of Health has faced questions and frustration about the vaccine rollout. Health officials have sought to reassure people about their plan. They say the biggest need is the lack of vaccine supply.

"The hardest thing is the fact that we just don't have the vaccine we need. We need the supply to increase. We have heard very mixed messaging from the federal government," said Dr. Danny Avula, who is overseeing the vaccine rollout for VDH.

Talks are once again are picking back up on Capitol Hill about another COVID relief package, which could potentially be ready to pass in the first week of February. Additional checks to individuals are expected to be a key component. "I do look forward to working towards future efforts to increase the stimulus payments to individuals," said Rep. Elaine Luria (D-2nd District). "I know that's one of the top things that's being talked about in this administration."

Still, members of Congress recognize the need to provide relief to small business and others who've been hit hard. "I think these opening weeks are critical in getting to provide relief to Americans," said Kaine.

The efforts come at a critical time in the pandemic. Virginia set a new daily case record earlier this week. "These are the highest numbers we've seen in the pandemic. I know everyone is tired. It's been 11 months into this, but nothing changes - we know what works to prevent this," said Avula.

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