Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, reacted to images of long lines of senior citizens waiting to get Covid-19 vaccines, telling CNN Sunday that it’s "not America, that’s not the way we treat those we consider vulnerable, in need of this vaccine most, that is not America at its best.”
“What we have to do is show people how it can be done,” Becerra said. “You can’t just tell the states and the local government ‘Here’s some vaccines, now you go do it.’ No, we have to coordinate, we have to provide the resources.”
Becerra said that many states are suffering massive budget deficits and trying to figure out how to get resources for their overburdened health workers, adding that Biden’s plan provides for 100,000 new health care workers to get out and help all the states.
“It’s a plan that can work if we all get, you know, put our muscle to it together,” he said.
Some more context: States had previously submitted plans for vaccine distribution to the CDC in October but had said they needed federal money to carry them out.
In September, Congress had initially set aside $200 million to states for preparedness and planning and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added another $227 million for vaccine distribution in December.
But the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials have said they needed $8.4 billion to administer and conduct vaccine efforts of this scale. Former President Trump signed a massive $2.3 trillion relief bill at the end of December which included $8 billion for vaccine distribution.