Biden turns to healthcare access in face of worrying US Covid projections – live updates

Posted by on January 28, 2021 5:28 am
Categories: Global Stories

President to sign executive action on healthcare as experts warn of 500,000 death toll by February’s end

10.28am GMT

Yesterday there were 152,478 new coronavirus cases recorded in the US, and 3,943 further deaths. The total death toll, according to Johns Hopkins University figures, has risen to 428,865. Experts have projected it will reach 500,000 by the end of February. Yesterday’s death toll puts it among the ten worst days since the pandemic began, and January’s death toll is already the worst on record.

There continued to be brighter news on hospitalizations, with the number of people in hospital in the US falling to 107,444. It is the fifteenth consecutive day the number has fallen, and the lowest level seen since 11 December.

“I think it’s important that when you’re looking at states’ inventories that you recognize that some of that inventory is being held for the very important second shot,” White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said yesterday.

Some of the distributed doses may have also just arrived at their destination or may still be on the way, and there’s also a lag in reporting the number of shots given, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a CNN town hall Wednesday night.

10.16am GMT

Here’s a reminder of what we are expecting from Joe Biden today when he addresses the issue of healthcare access at 1:30pm EST (6:30pm GMT). As the Washington Post reported, he will reopen federal marketplaces selling Affordable Care Act health plans and lower recent barriers to joining Medicaid:

Under one order,, the online insurance marketplace for Americans who cannot get affordable coverage through their jobs, will swiftly reopen for at least a few months. Ordinarily, signing up for such coverage is tightly restricted outside a six-week period late each year.

Another part of Biden’s scheduled actions is intended to reverse Trump-era changes to Medicaid that critics say damaged Americans’ access to the safety-net insurance. It is unclear whether Biden’s order will undo a Trump-era rule allowing states to impose work requirements, or simply direct federal health officials to review rules to make sure they expand coverage to the program that insures about 70 million low-income people in the United States. Biden has been saying for many months that helping people get insurance is a crucial federal responsibility.

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