Cold wind is blowing
The author is the Washington bureau chiefof the JoongAng Ilbo.
The eight-lane Pennsylvania Avenue connects the White House and Capitol Hill. It was designed as a symbolic road when the capital was moved to Washington, D.C. 221 years ago. The White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The president swears in at the Capitol and passes through this street to meet the crowds. It is the traditional inauguration parade.
At the inauguration ceremony for Joe Biden on Jan. 20, the grand parade is unlikely to happen. Due to Covid-19, 80 percent of the event will be held virtually, except for the inaugural swearing-in ceremony. It will be the first online, offline hybrid inauguration in U.S. history. It is the first time the inauguration parade will be skipped since it was canceled for Ronald Reagan’s re-election in 1985 due to severe cold.
The novel virus is extremely harsh. More than 20 million people have been diagnosed in the United States, a quarter of total positive cases in the world. More than 300,000 Americans died from the virus, one in 1,000 U.S. citizens. With the impact of travel for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and the new virus variant, the death toll is likely to exceed 400,000 by the inauguration.
Concerned of the dark winter, President-elect Biden met medical staff before the New Year. He rolled up the sleeve on his left arm and said, “I’m ready.” The 78-year-old president-elect, who is to be the oldest president of the United States, had an inoculation event. The indisputable prime task of the Biden administration is to have 100 million people vaccinated within the first 100 days of his administration.
The Trump administration secured 400 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, enough to have 77 percent of eligible Americans, or 260 million people, vaccinated by July. The United States also signed an option contract for an additional 400 million doses with Pfizer. The government is also pre-purchasing vaccines and treatments in development. To have Americans get priority in vaccination, an executive order was issued and the Defense Production Act of 1950 was applied.
Pope Francis’ Christmas message was to block the virus of closed nationalism and radical individualism. He criticized vaccine monopoly of some rich countries, including the United States. Experts also expressed concerns that their reckless take of the lion’s share would lead to more deaths and economic collapse around the globe.
Biden’s foreign policy plan is returning to the multilateral track. He declared to part with Trump’s nationalistic America First policy and restore America’s leadership and trust through international cooperation. In the New Year, a harsh wind still blows through Pennsylvania Avenue — a sort of winter wind that is hard to overcome without some headwind of drastic changes.