WILMINGTON, Delaware — President-elect Joe Biden released initial details of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan that aims to stem the surging pandemic, speed up vaccinations and provide further financial help to Americans, as well as local governments and businesses dealing with almost a year of economic declines.
"After nearly a year of the public health crisis, our nation remains in this dark winter of the pandemic and facing a deep economic crisis," reads a statement from Biden's transition team.
More than 385,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the virus was first identified in the country in early 2020. More than 23.2 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19.
The plan, which the Biden team calls the "American Rescue Plan," includes $1,400 checks for individuals, which would be in addition to the $600 stimulus checks approved at the end of 2020.
The "American Rescue Plan is ambitious, but achievable, and will rescue the American economy and start beating the virus," Biden's team said in a statement.
The plan calls for providing paid sick leave to contain the spread of the coronavirus as well as providing direct housing and nutrition assistance. Biden is also asking for Congress to approve $400/week unemployment insurance supplement payments.
In addition, the plan would include money for a large vaccination campaign and expansion of current local efforts. The Biden team calls it a "whole-of-government" response plan, and he will ask Congress to approve $160 billion to execute a national vaccination program, expand testing and address public health job staffing and training.
Biden's team says the American Rescue Plan is for the immediate crisis, and he plans on introducing a recovery plan that they say will create millions of jobs and address climate change.
"Next month, in my first appearance before a Joint Session of Congress, I will lay out the second step, my Build Back Better Recovery Plan. It will make historic investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, innovation, research and development, and clean energy. Investments in the caregiving economy and in skills and training needed by our workers to compete and win the global economy of the future," Biden said.
Labor Department statistics show there are still almost 10 million jobs that are no longer in the U.S. economy that were lost during the pandemic and have not been added back. Millions more have been out of work or are underemployed.