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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Doctors, attorneys weigh in on President Biden's COVID-19 priorities in first weeks of administration

The President's executive order extends eviction moratorium and sets broader COVID-19 vaccine goals.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "I think the best thing that was done today was an infusion of hope - the notion that I understand, I care," Cindy Ettingoff with Memphis Area Legal Services said.

That's how Ettingoff interpreted President Joe Biden's day one on the job.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the new president signed a flurry of executive orders, including an extension of the federal eviction moratorium from January 31st to the end of March.

"The notion that if you can just hold on a little bit longer, there's gonna be some help, for us, is tremendous, and for our clients is tremendous," Ettingoff said.

Shelby County court records show nearly 10,000 Memphis area families were at risk of eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding economic downturn, including 200 additional local eviction notices this month.

Ettingoff said extending the freeze of evictions buys Congress time to pass broader pandemic relief legislation.

"We've already been through this once, which is good thing, because we've kind of seen what's worked and didn't work," Ettingoff said.

President Biden's first focus will also hone in on another aspect of combating COVID-19: vaccinating more people quicker.

The 46th president wants $20 billion for a national vaccination program, to vaccinate 100 million Americans his first 100 days in office and having FEMA set up 100 federal vaccination sites by end of February.

"I think we can do it. Most people out there would say it could be done, but the question is can we keep that pace up over a larger period of time," Dr. Steve Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial Hospital said.

Dr. Threlkeld believed the new administration's vaccine goals are within reach but will need near flawless execution across the board to succeed.

"We will have to up our game significantly in the actual top down supply line, distributing that vaccine to all of these new sites to deliver it," Dr. Threlkeld said. "I think we have to have both of those things working."

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