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Biden’s transition team seeks more internationally focused COVID-19 measures, including rejoining the WHO

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Tuesday morning, Joe Biden‘s transition team shared a link to their overall plan for combatting COVID-19, which seeks a more active role for the federal government in public health and the economy than it has during the Trump administration. Additionally, the plan aims to take a more multilateral approach in dealing with the virus than the current administration has, including rejoining the World Health Organization (WHO).

This comes after Biden announced on Monday a slate of individuals he’s nominating for economic roles in his incoming administration. His most notable picks include former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen for Treasury secretary, Neera Tanden for director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Cecilia Rouse for chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). His economic team, if successfully confirmed by the U.S. Senate, will play a vital role in leading the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

In sharing the link, the team tweeted that “President-elect Biden believes that the federal government must act aggressively to help protect and support our families, small businesses, first responders, and caregivers affected by COVID-19.”

Also part of Biden’s plan are measures to increase U.S. collaboration with other countries in fighting COVID-19. Notably, the document says that one goal is to “immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization, which—while not perfect—is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic.”

The WHO has come under intense scrutiny since the start of the pandemic, with critics saying that the organization mishandled the virus and has failed in condemning the Chinese government for lying to the world about the virus and censoring those in China who tried to inform the world about COVID-19. Biden has made public statements in the past where he has said that he wants the U.S. to rejoin the WHO.

Other internationally focused measures listed in the document are: expanding “the number of CDC’s deployed disease detectives so we have eyes and ears on the ground, including rebuilding the office in Beijing,” immediately restoring “the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, originally established by the Obama-Biden administration,” and relaunching and strengthening the “U.S. Agency for International Development’s pathogen-tracking program called PREDICT.”

President Donald Trump has taken a mostly unilateral approach in fighting the virus during the pandemic, with him in October announcing that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the WHO. Furthermore, the president, who was already an aggressive critic of China before the pandemic, has been extremely vocal in his anger toward the country’s authoritarian government regarding COVID-19, having routinely referred to it as the “China virus.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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VIDEO: Chinese military plane comes ‘dangerously’ close to U.S. aircraft over South China Sea

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The United States Army recorded and released unnerving video of a close encounter with a Chinese jet over the South China Sea. The Chinese military plane came “dangerously” close to the U.S. military aircraft in the international airspace last week, the U.S. military announced on Thursday.

The Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), the command responsible for overseeing U.S. operations in the area, said in a statement that the encounter occurred on December 21, during which a Chinese Navy J-11 fighter jet flew within 10 feet (3 meters) of a U.S. Air Force RC-135, a reconnaissance plane with about 30 people on board.

According to a U.S. military spokesperson, the Chinese jet came within 10 feet of the airplane’s wing, but 20 feet from its nose, causing the U.S. aircraft to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.

 

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