Biden administration activates FEMA and watches for new coronavirus variants

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WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — President Joe Biden’s administration wants to take proactive steps to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are releasing more supply, activating FEMA, and deploying many more personnel,” said COVID-19 response team Senior Advisor Andy Slavitt.

Slavitt says full cooperation from FEMA will help reach the first goal of 100 million vaccines in 100 days and more. 

“FEMA announced they had obligated $1 billion to support state vaccination sites,” Slavitt said. 

The White House says doses from Pfizer and Moderna are going out to states as soon as they are available. At the same time, the administration is monitoring results from other trials. 

“It is going to be looking at efficacy, not only in the United States but also in South Africa and in Brazil,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Fauci says this testing will prepare the country if any COVID variants come to the country, as new variants are in South Africa, Brazil and the U.K. The South African virus was just found in the U.S. for the first time, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

“We have to be concerned, looking forward, at what the further evolution of this might be,” Fauci said. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says the president and his team are focused on contingency planning to handle the demands of the virus. 

“This is a Herculean task that has never been done before, but also ensuring that we have vaccinators, we have vaccine sites, etc. available,” Psaki said. 

The administration also says the Defense Production Act will help produce the necessary PPE, so vaccinators will be protected while getting the shots into as many arms as possible.  

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