ASU health policy expert weighs in on federal response to COVID-19 pandemic as President Biden takes office

Now that President Joe Biden has been sworn into office, he has a number of items he plans to implement, and many are in response to the ongoing and worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of the plan in President Biden’s first 100 days in office will be about responding to the pandemic. Arizona State University law professor James Hodge says we will see a more streamlined approach on how that response will happen.

"It will be monumental," said Hodge. "There will be systematic changes, brand new resources to help Americans and Arizonans, and access to vaccines and tests."

Hodge is the Center for Public Health Law and Policy Director at ASU, and has been following the new protocols that will be put into place by the Biden Administration.

"What changes for the Biden Administration is an insistence on doing what we can to quell this pandemic. It is only getting worse," said Hodge.

President Biden plans to expand COVID-19 testing efforts, as well as making 100 million vaccine shots available to Americans. Starting on Jan. 20, he will also implement a mask-wearing policy on Federal grounds.

"Let’s be clear about that. Biden only has powers for federal properties and contractors in alignment with the Federal government," said Hodge. "He is not mandating to state and local governments that they have to issue mask mandates."

To implement these new policies efficiently, there will need to be a streamlined approach. While Hodge says Former President Trump made big accomplishments in the development of the vaccine, he adds the response to the pandemic has been fragmented.

Now, Hodge says federal, state, and local levels may work together more cohesively under the new Biden administration.

"I believe this administration will be insistent on this receipt and utilization of federal efforts, like the vaccine, towards specific good ends," said Hodge.

Hodge also talked about President Biden’s experience with handling the H1N1 pandemic and the Ebola virus during Former President Obama’s administration. He says he knows how to wield federal agencies to help with these issues, and adds that will only help as he embarks on his response to COVID-19.

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COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)