Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Challenge: End the Coronavirus Crisis Faster


He added, “It’s going to make a huge difference in people’s lives, and it has already.”

But risks remain. For the economy to fully bounce back, Americans need to feel confident in returning to shopping, traveling, entertainment and work. No matter how much cash the administration pumps into the economy, recovery could be stalled by the emergence of new variants, the reluctance of some Americans to get vaccinated and, in the coming weeks, spotty compliance with social distancing guidelines and other public health measures before a critical mass of Americans is inoculated.

“We’re being really cautious about our expectations about the speed” of the economic rebound, said Heather Boushey, a member of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers. “Part of this is establishing trust with the American people that we contain the virus, and that it’s safe, and then the economic activity will come up.”

Americans will also have to be willing to change their habits. As new infections have declined, so too has coronavirus testing. But public health experts say more testing — not less — will be critical for the economy to recover. When Mr. Biden ran for office, and again after he was sworn in, he promised to create a “pandemic testing board,” akin to the wartime production board that President Franklin D. Roosevelt created to help bring the country out of the Great Depression. Mr. Biden described the approach as a “full-scale wartime effort.”

His coronavirus testing coordinator, Carole Johnson, said the board, composed of officials from across government agencies, had been meeting to discuss how to work with the private sector to expand testing capacity, and to lay out plans to spend tens of billions of dollars from the stimulus bill for testing and other mitigation measures.

“We know that we’re going to continue to need to grow as we go forward,” she said of the nation’s testing capacity.

Mr. Biden made grand promises in pushing his American Rescue Plan to swift passage in Congress this month.