What We’re Reading: Biden Calls for 100 Days of Mask-Wearing; Maternal Morbidity Action Plan Unveiled; COVID-19 Relief Talks Held

President-elect Joe Biden will call for 100 days of mask-wearing on inauguration day; HHS announces maternal morbidity action plan; Pelosi, McConnell in virus relief talks.

Biden Request Americans Wear Masks for 100 Days

Among his first official acts as President, President-elect Joe Biden will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of mask-wearing, the Associated Press reports. The move stops short of imposing a nationwide mask mandate he had previously considered. Speaking on CNN, Biden said he would ask Americans to take up the request on inauguration day, January 20, and noted that as a result, the country will see a "significant reduction" in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. The pandemic has killed more than 275,000 Americans, and the country has reported over 14 million confirmed cases.

HHS Releases Plan to Curb Maternal Morbidity, Mortality

In light of recent studies underscoring the United States’ bleak record on maternal morbidity and mortality and stark racial disparities in care, HHS announced an action plan to improve maternal health in the country. Reported by USA Today, the plan outlines 3 targets to achieve over the course of the next 5 years: cut the maternal mortality rate by 50%, reduce low-risk C-section delivery rate by a quarter, and control blood pressure in 80% of reproductive-age women. Maternal deaths have been increasing in the United States since 2000, and although 700 pregnancy-related deaths occur each year, two-thirds of these deaths are considered preventable.

McConnell, Pelosi Hold COVID-19 Relief Package Talks

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, held talks on reaching a COVID-19 relief deal before Christmas, The Hill reports. Pelosi previously stated an agreement would be reached on relief package funding by December 11, the day government funding is set to expire. McConnell also met with a group of Senate Republican moderates who support a compromise $908-billion relief bill, including $160 billion for state and local governments. The compromise proposal would include $16 billion for vaccine development and distribution in addition to virus testing and tracing. President Donald Trump said he would support a relief bill proposed before year-end.