Biden Administration, Covid-19, and the State of Minnesota
Biden spearheaded his pre-election administration with an emphasis on policies for COVID-19. Current policies have included vaccination mandates, mask mandates, and funding for coronavirus related organizations. The state of Minnesota has backed up these policies with vaccination mandates (Minneapolis and St. Paul) and mask mandates – that have now been overturned – to combat the rise of Omicron. In January, Minnesota was thirty-fourth on the list of coronavirus hospitalizations, and recently had its first early-teen death due to covid.
The past two years have been defined rigorously by COVID-19. The nation has been rocked by infections, deaths, lockdowns, and policies to help combat the virus. Inconsistency in policies across the country and world have led to many differing opinions on what should be done. Joe Biden winning the 2020 Presidential Election was bound to have an impact. With President Biden voicing his criticisms of the Trump administration and its handling of COVID-19, it is probable to see policy shift in a new direction.
When Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20th, 2020, his administration wanted to change how the federal government would handle the pandemic. Biden emphasized that he will “listen to the scientists” and he planned to spend any amount of money necessary to help businesses, workers, and families who were financially affected during COVID-19. The goal of his plan was to ensure a “comprehensive paid leave program for every American” and eliminate out-of-pocket costs for COVID-related treatments such as testing and vaccination. Biden also wanted to fund states with programs such as increased use of unemployment insurance, to help their programs fight the virus and its side effects. Although we have yet to see steps taken to achieve that specific goal, there have been productive steps in other places. The Biden administration provided stimulus money to any qualifying adult/family in the United States. There has also been funding for the accelerated development of a vaccine. Recently, the Biden Administration submitted a vaccination mandate for federal employees and any company that has over 100 workers. This mandate has since been turned down by the Supreme Court. The Biden Administration created opportunities for any American to access coronavirus testing and vaccination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 cases have been going up for the past month and do not seem to be coming down. Minnesota hospitals have admitted over 200 patients a day due to COVID since November 8, 2020. Currently, Minnesota ranks thirty-fourth on the list of cases per state with more people testing positive for COVID than back when America was in lockdown. Additionally, coronavirus-related deaths have infiltrated another age bracket as of Wednesday, January 19, a young teen from Dakota County has passed away as a result of the virus. This child’s death is Minnesota’s first for this age bracket, and is the eighth person under the age of 19 to die from COVID-19.
These high numbers have state governments talking about setting restrictions once again. On November 18, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz enacted Executive Order 20-99 that closes in-person dining and fitness centers, disallows events including wedding receptions and private parties, and discontinues youth sports for the fall season. This executive order has since been overturned. However, on January 6, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter reinstated a mask mandate due to the rise of the omicron variant in the twin cities. This mask mandate was followed by a vaccination requirement for dining indoors at restaurants, bars, and other entertainment areas (effective January 19, 2022).
This pandemic has been a back and forth between creating access and creating policies. The entirety of the coronavirus pandemic has shown that President Biden, his administration, and the State of Minnesota are not backing down from trying to get our country back to “normal” through its implementation of policies, funding, and political change.