By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday reaffirmed his plan to get up to 100 million Americans vaccinated over the next 100 days as part of his strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic that he said is based on science and not politics.
Biden also urged the people to "mask up" until they get vaccinated, insisting the act of wearing a mask alone can save tens of thousands of lives over the next few months.
"Well, one of our 100 day challenges is asking the American people to mask up for the first 100 days. the next 99 days," Biden told a press conference, one day after he was sworn into office.
"The mask has become a partisan issue, unfortunately, but it's a patriotic act," he added.
Biden's remarks came as the number of COVID-19 related deaths here topped 400,000 this week, accounting for some 20 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the world. The U.S. accounts for about 4 percent of global population.
Biden said some 100,000 more Americans were expected to lose their lives over the next 30 days.
"Let me be very clear. Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better. The memorial we held two nights ago will not be our last one, unfortunately. The death toll will likely top 500,000 next month, the cases will continue to mount," he said.
Under a 198-page action plan unveiled Thursday, Biden said the government will work to set up at least 100 federal vaccination centers to expedite the vaccination rate.
Still, Biden noted it would take "months" before a majority of people can be vaccinated, stressing the need for everyone to help prevent the spread of the disease.
"The fact is that the single best thing we can do, even more important than the vaccines because they take time to work, and if we do this as Americans, the experts say, by wearing a mask from now until April, we would save more than 50,000 lives going forward," said the U.S. president.
"So I am asking every American, to mask for the next 100 days," he added.
Legislation on compensating virus-hit small biz picks up steam
Anger mounts over deepfake porn targeting Korean female celebs; more than 330,000 sign petition
Biden's pick for Asia policy likely to seek stronger regional alliances to check China
Iran's oil tanker seizure appears aimed at pressuring S. Korea to unlock frozen assets: experts
S. Koreans feel pinch of rising housing costs amid economic downturn