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Biden's Six Step Covid Plan

Dr. Ogechika Alozie, CEO at Sunset ID Care, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss President Biden's plan to combat Covid in the United States.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

SEANA SMITH: President Biden last night laying out a new strategy to curb the spread of the Delta variant. Now part of that included a plan to vaccinate Americans. He was saying that employers who have at least 100 workers should mandate vaccines or at least implement a weekly testing strategy.

So we want to talk a little bit more about this with our doctor today. We have Dr. Ogechika Alozie. He's the CEO of Sunset ID Care. And Doctor, it's great to see you. I guess, just in terms of what we heard from President Biden last night, because as the Delta variant continues to spread we're looking at numbers that we haven't seen since the winter peak, what did you think of what we heard from the president last night?

OGECHIKA ALOZIE: Well, I think first of all, thanks for having me. But I think to get to President Biden's announcement, I think the federal government has to lead on this. And this is what leadership does. There's a lot of people that aren't going to be happy with it, and that's OK.

We have to change the narrative from this is a mandate to, well, this is an expectation of safety. What has happened is that we've only gotten 54% completely vaccinated, maybe 70% to 75% with one shot. And people take it as the exception to the rule. I think we need to change that narrative so that you expect to go into someplace that everybody's vaccinated, and if not, get tested to go in.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Let's talk about those tests, because part of what President Biden talked about were the tests at cost, the home tests that are going to be much more available. How reliable are those? And will they-- how reliable are those? And is that a good step?

OGECHIKA ALOZIE: Well, I think it is a good step. I think I'm disappointed that the federal government didn't just say, hey, we're going to get this down to European levels and make it $1 to $3 a test. That's the real change that we need from the government. The tests are reliable.

I personally recommend to my clients and to people that have kids if you're trying to figure out who's infectious, use the antigen test. CVS, Walgreens, a host of other pharmacies have them. They're good tests to determine are you infectious. And I think that's really the key.

The other thing, too, sort of going back is, you know, we've seen this Swiss cheese model, right. And everybody talks as if every slice of that Swiss cheese model is the same size. And that's a fallacy. The biggest piece of cheese is vaccines, and we got to figure out how to get people to like the taste of that cheese. And then we can add other things on top of it, whether it's testing, vaccines-- whether it's testing, masks, the right masks, not a cloth mask, but the right type of masking.

SEANA SMITH: And Doctor, we also have the news this week of the vaccine mandates for Los Angeles, that public school system. They're going to require those 12 and older, so those who are eligible to get vaccinated, to be vaccinated in order to return to school. Is this something that makes sense? And is this necessary in order to have a successful school year?

OGECHIKA ALOZIE: Yeah, I guess I'm surprised at the contention around vaccine mandates, or requirements is a better word, in schools. In every stage of education that I've ever been in, elementary, college, med school, residency, fellowship, and my master's in public health, you had to show evidence that you had an MMR, and a Tdap, and a TB test to get in and to attend classes. This is not a new concept.

People are making this seem like this is suddenly a unique thing that we've never done before. I think at the end of the day, and this is-- I'm not an economist, but to get people back to trusting in the economy and engaging in society, we have to let them know that our kids are safe and that where they go to spend their money and engage in society is going to be safe as well.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Doctor, one of the paid TV bloviators was commenting about the president's speech yesterday and said that this is not the speech you use to persuade people who've not gotten vaccinated to get vaccinated. And what I think I hear you saying, and what others have said, is this was not about persuading, that the time for that is over. This is about the time for action. Do you think the president should step it up?

OGECHIKA ALOZIE: Well, I think the president missed on a couple of things. I think the masking and having a conversation about the right masks, the testing. There are others that talk about the transportation vaccine passports. I'm personally not there yet.

But here's what I do believe truly. In health care, we are the only country that's still having this conversation, right. We have the solution to the riddle which is COVID, and that's vaccines. The vaccines are safe. They're wildly efficacious. And of the patients that I see and my colleagues across the country are seeing in jammed hospitals, it's primarily, 90-plus percent those that are unvaccinated.

I think the unvaccinated have more than enough time to get vaccinated. The only pushback will be that the amount of angst this is going to cause is not worth the maybe 5% to 7% extra squeeze that you're going to get out of the unvaccinated. But I think employers, health care employers from my perspective, really have to step it up. And I think people deserve to be safe when they walk into a hospital and other places, and the best way to do that is vaccines.

SEANA SMITH: And Doctor, kids under 12, they're still not eligible for the vaccines. We heard from the FDA today saying that they're hopeful over the next couple of months. But from what you're hearing, from what you're reading, I guess, when can we expect children under the age of 12 to get a vaccine?

OGECHIKA ALOZIE: Yeah, it's looking like November, December thing. And I have an 11-year-old that has not been vaccinated. He fortunately, where I am in El Paso, Texas, is in face-to-face school, and he hasn't had any issues. I think that parents are worried, parents are concerned. I do think, though, that the American Academy of Pediatrics, they've pushed the FDA a little bit to say, hey, get this done quicker.

I think that's the wrong step. I think that if you want people to trust a vaccine that they're going to give to their children, it has to be done in the right time with the right data. And I think the FDA and the CDC, they'll do the right job. And hopefully they'll get us that information very clearly by November, December so we can go into the winter months and into next year with the opportunity for those that want to get their children vaccinated to vaccinate.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Thank you for mentioning your 11-year-old being in face-to-face classes. Is your 11-year-old wearing a mask? And are there children in that class who are not wearing masks? What's that experience like for the 11-year-olds?

OGECHIKA ALOZIE: Yeah, you know, Texas is one of those states where we've divided ourselves into tribes around protecting children and masking when we can argue all we want about the data. My son is 11. He wears a KN95. He has a host of them. He also has surgical masks in his backpack in case he's playing outside and it gets dirty or torn.

My push to the school districts have been to use some of that CARES money, some of the money that President Biden talked about, and make sure that kids coming to school have the right masks. I think that is critical. I also think that we probably don't need to be masking down to two.

And again, that's a WHO versus CDC issue. But I think in this environment where a lot of people are concerned and parents are concerned, I think it's fair to have kids mask. I don't think it should be the drama and all the angst that we've created over it.