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White House to Block Travelers from COVID Hot Spots – New Relief Package Is in The Works

President Joe Biden, Jan. 21, 2021 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Joe Biden, Jan. 21, 2021 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

During the presidential campaign, critics said Joe Biden had accused Donald Trump of "xenophobia" for imposing travel bans on non-citizens from countries deemed to be COVID-19 hot spots. Now he's doing the same thing.

Today Biden is reinstating COVID-19 travel restrictions on non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom, 26 European countries and also South Africa, over concerns about a new variant of the virus. 

He's reversing an order from President Trump in his final days in office that called for the relaxation of the restrictions.

Officials say the highly contagious UK variant of the virus has now been detected in 23 states. 

U.S. Surgeon General nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy says, "The virus is basically telling us that it's going to continue to change, and we have got to be ready for it."

But scientists stress more research is needed on whether the variant is actually deadlier.

Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University says, "It could be that variant hit the UK when their hospitals are more overwhelmed. When hospitals get overwhelmed, mortality rates tend to rise. We have to sort that out. It's still a deadly disease and clearly more contagious."

With the U.S. surpassing 25 million cases of coronavirus according to Johns Hopkins University, the Biden administration has promised to deliver 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in 100 days. 

But so far, heavy demand for the vaccines is outstripping the supply.

And some vaccine distribution sites are seeing hours-long waits. 

Health and Human Services director-nominee Xavier Becerra admitted to CNN, "That's not the way we treat those we consider vulnerable, in need of this vaccine most. You can't just tell the states and the local governments, 'Here's some vaccines. Now you go do it.' No. We have to coordinate and provide the resources."

Meanwhile, Biden is trying to win bipartisan backing for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package but is getting pushback from Republicans over the federal government racking up even bigger deficits.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) says, "Spending and borrowing billions of dollars from the Chinese among others is not necessarily the best thing we can do to get our economy to strong long term." 

If passed, the relief package would include another round of direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans.  

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