As I See It – Biden on COVID-19: The War is on; Help is on the Way!


By Elpidio R. Estioko

Just like the 911 spiel and television ad in response to emergency situations, US President Joe Biden assured the American people that the war against the dreaded COVID-19 is on and help is on the way!

Immediately after his inauguration last January 20 as the 46th US president, Biden signed a dozen of “wartime” executive orders to combat the corona virus pandemic, which includes the setting up of mass-vaccination centers, the involvement of drugstores and an accelerated manufacturing program (The Times by Sheryl Gay Stolberg).

Biden also signed an executive order protecting the federal workforce and requiring mask-wearing in order to halt the spread of the corona virus disease.  He noted that masks and other public health measures reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when the communities make widespread use of such measures and thus save lives. Other than the vaccine, wearing mask is the last bastion of defense for the American people. 

He directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the director of CDC, “to engage with State, local, Tribal and territorial officials, as well as business, union, academic, and other community leaders, regarding mask-wearing, with the goal of maximizing public compliance with, and addressing any obstacles to, mask-wearing and other public health best practices identified by CDC.” These federally guided collaboration efforts contribute to the united front to address the pandemic in order to eradicate the virus which has been plaguing the American people for almost a year now. 

It was noted that after the January 6 riot in the Capitol induced by now former President Donald trump, 38 police officers were tested positive of corona virus, the union representing the Capitol Police told CNN Sunday (reported by Nadia Kounang and Whitney.)

However, it is unclear how many of the 38 officers may have been on duty during the attack or when they contracted the virus. Health officials were worried that the mass of largely unmasked people, many shoutings and pushing, would result in the spread of the virus, not only among police officers but to those rioters who participated without wearing face coverings. Several police officers were directly assaulted during the insurrection which resulted to five deaths, one of whom was a police officer. 

“I do think you have to anticipate that this is another surge event. You had largely unmasked individuals in a non-distanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol,” former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield said in an interview earlier this month with the McClatchy newspaper group.

Also, several lawmakers were tested positive in the wake of the attack, with some Democrats saying they were tested positive after sheltering in place with other members of Congress who were not wearing masks.

In his inaugural speech on January 20 initially projected with 200,000 guests but was scaled to about 1,000 due to the virus situation he said: “Today we celebrate with a cause.,.. but the cause for democracy. Democracy has prevailed… we come as one nation under God to pave the transition of power… we have much to do, much to repair, much to restore, much to fix, much to heal… much to gain.” 

He put his soul in the cry for unity as what former President Abraham Lincoln did bringing Americans together during his administration. 

Biden’s 22-minute speech was interrupted (applause) 20 times applauding his vision to become the president for all Americans. “I understand there’s a lot of problems … but we can do this if we can open our souls and if just for a moment stand as one. My fellow Americans, we are going to need each other to persevere, put aside politics and act as one nation. We will get through this together… we will not only lead by example but by the power of our example.” I would say, his administration is the era of hope and unity. 

I also would like to praise him when, towards the end of his speech, requested for a silent prayer in honor of close to 400,000 Americans who lost their lives from COVID and for those they left behind. 

Biden said: “I give you my word…  that I will defend the constitution and would defend America and together we shall hope not to fear, love not hate and answer the call of history with purpose and resolve.” 

He ended his speech by saying: “Thank you America and may God bless our troops!” The inaugural speech of Biden was short but full of hope and meaning to the American people.

Some of those who attended Biden’s inauguration include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Former Vice President Dan Quayle; Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who administered the oath of office to Biden who was with his wife Dr. Jill Biden; Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who administered the oath of office to Vice President Kamara Harris, 1st woman vice president and 1st black vice president who was with her husband 2nd Gentleman Douglas Craig Emhoff, an American lawyer; Vice President  Mike Pence and his wife Karen Sue Pence, an American schoolteacher and painter; 43rd President George Bush and wife Laura Bush; 44th president Barack Obama and wife Michelle Obama; and former president Bill Clinton and wife Hilary Clinton. 

It was a well-orchestrated inauguration celebration with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, vice-chair of the inaugural committee, as emcee; Lady Gaga singing the national anthem accompanied by the Marine Band; Jennifer Lopez singing “This Land is Your Land”; National Anthem by the Armed Forces Color Guards and Fire Captain Andrea Hall from Georgia leading the pledge of allegiance; opening prayer by Rev. Fr. Jeremiah Donnovan; Amazing Grace by  Garth Brooks; youngest American poet Amanda Gorman reciting  her moving poem that caught national attention; and the Benediction  by Rev. Sylvester Beaman.

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ [email protected]