Biden is unveiling a federal pandemic response strategy, which Trump resisted.

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Biden is unveiling a federal pandemic response strategy, which Trump resisted.


President Biden is using Thursday, his first full day in office, to go on the offensive against the coronavirus, with a 200-page national strategy that includes aggressive use of executive authority to protect workers, advance racial equity and ramp up the manufacturing of test kits, vaccines and supplies.

The “National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” previewed in a 21-page summary on Wednesday evening by Mr. Biden’s advisers, outlines the kind of muscular and highly coordinated federal response that Democrats have long demanded and that President Donald J. Trump refused.

Instead, Mr. Trump insisted that state governments take the lead. The Biden advisers said they were stunned by the vaccination plan — or the lack of one — that it inherited from the Trump administration, and said the Trump team failed to share crucial information about supplies and vaccine availability.

“What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” said Jeff Zients, the new White House Covid-19 response coordinator, adding, “The cooperation or lack of cooperation from the Trump administration has been an impediment. We don’t have the visibility that we would hope to have into supply and allocations.”

One day after Mr. Biden was inaugurated at a ceremony full of pomp and ritual but robbed by the pandemic of the usual crowds, he and his team hope to signal to the public that their approach will be far more assertive.

The new president intends to make expansive use of his authority to sign a dozen executive orders or actions related to Covid-19 — including one requiring mask-wearing “in airports, on certain modes of public transportation, including many trains, airplanes, maritime vessels, and intercity buses,” according to a fact sheet issued by his administration.

The president will appear in the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday afternoon to sign the executive actions.

With its nominees for top health positions not yet confirmed by Congress, the Biden team said it had asked Mr. Trump’s surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, to stay on as an adviser and to help with the transition. But a person close to Dr. Adams said no such offer had been made, and that in fact he was instructed to tender his resignation. He did so on Wednesday, in a Facebook post saying it had been “the honor of my life” to serve in the position.

The Biden team said it had identified 12 “immediate supply shortfalls” that were critical to the pandemic response, including N95 surgical masks and isolation gowns, as well as swabs, reagents and pipettes used in testing — deficiencies that have dogged the nation for nearly a year. Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary, told reporters on Wednesday evening that Mr. Biden “absolutely remains committed” to invoking the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law, to bolster supplies.

Local officials have expressed hope that the Biden administration would step up vaccine production enough to make second doses available for an expanded pool of eligible people.

Production of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines authorized in the U.S. are running flat, and it is not clear whether the administration could significantly expand the overall supply any time soon.

Though Mr. Biden has indicated his administration would release more doses as they became available and keep fewer in reserve, he said on Friday that he would not change the recommended timing for second doses: 21 days after the first dose for Pfizer’s vaccine, and 28 days for Moderna’s.

“We believe it’s critical that everyone should get two doses within the F.D.A.-recommended time frame,” Mr. Biden said while discussing his vaccine distribution plans.

Katie Thomas contributed reporting.



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