One COVID Board Member Could Act to Save Lives NOW; Considering Giving Preference in Grants to States With Mask Requirements
COVID Advisory Board Members Are Speaking Out
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 24, 2020) - Members of President-elect Joe Biden's COVID Advisory Board are speaking out, with most of the emphasis on what they will recommend happen once Biden takes office, but some are recognizing that it's necessary to take action now rather than waiting till then.
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Biden agrees, saying "This crisis demands an immediate federal response . . . The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now. Urgent action is needed today."
Fortunately, there's a very simple act the Board - or even any one individual member of the Board - can take now without waiting for January, which could have a major and immediate impact on the pandemic, saving thousands of lives and preventing even more crippling disabilities, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who has already made two successful contributions towards fighting COVID, and has worked with Board member Dr. David Kessler.
Members of the COVID Advisory Board are now considering a proposal to formally recommend that, once Biden becomes president, he direct executive branch agencies awarding health-related grants to limit them - or at least give preference - to applications from entities in states which had a mandatory mask rule in place on some other fixed date such as December 1st.
Since federal grants are discretionary, and many already include requirements - or at least factors to obtain preference - such as diversity, environmental considerations, etc., such a presidential directive would be entirely lawful and proper, and would likely motivate many local governmental bodies, hospitals, universities, school boards, and others which depend upon federal grants to press their governors to adopt mask mandates before any deadline.
Washington D.C. Tactics
Using the incentive and carrot of possible federal grants - and the stick of denying them if certain conditions are not met - is a very familiar Washington D.C. tactic for motivating state governments to take steps they might otherwise be reluctant or even unwilling to take, says Banzhaf, who was once called "one of the 100 Most Powerful People in Washington."
Although several states have recently adopted comprehensive mandatory mask policies, at least thirteen states still put their citizens - as well as the remainder of the country - at serious risk of wide spread COVID infections and deaths by having none. There states reportedly are: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming.
Even though such a grant preference is, at this time, far from a fait accompli, many applicants in states which are now without mask requirements might be reluctant to take even a small chance on missing out, in the future, on a big federal grant from the Biden administration.
At the very least, Board members are being told that there is nothing to lose by floating such a trial balloon, and lots to save in terms of lives, medical care costs, and possibly even helping to avoid more intrusive measures such as lengthy lock downs, etc., says Prof. Banzhaf.
Banzhaf notes that the situation in Florida is particularly serious. There Governor Ron DeSantis has done much more than simply refuse to issue a statewide mask mandate. He has eliminated all COVID restrictions, including mask mandates, that had been in place, says Banzhaf.