Home Top News Joe Biden signs executive orders and directives aimed at COVID-19

Joe Biden signs executive orders and directives aimed at COVID-19

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Joe Biden to sign executive orders and directives aimed at COVID-19


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Climate change, LGBTQ rights and the border wall are just a few items President Joe Biden addressed in signing his first executive orders.

USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled his administration’s strategy to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, signing 10 executive orders and other directives to jump-start the expansive effort.

After 15 Day One executive orders Wednesday that spanned a variety of subjects, Biden used his first full day in office to require masks in most planes, trains and airports, order a national strategy to reopen schools and create a “testing board” to expand testing for the virus, all via executive action.

Declaring “this is a wartime undertaking,” the president invoked the Defense Production Act to boost coronavirus testing and vaccination supplies, among a range of other orders and directives.

Each is a plank in Biden’s 198-page plan to fight the COVID-19 pandemic – dubbed the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. More than 408,000 people have died and 24.5 million have been infected by the virus in the USA.

“Let me be very clear,” Biden said, giving his first address on the pandemic since he took office. “Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better. The death toll will likely top 500,000 next month. The cases will continue to mount.

“But let me be equally clear: We will get through this. We will defeat this pandemic. And to a nation waiting for action, let me be clearest on this point: Help is on the way.”

The White House billed the strategy as a national approach to combat the virus after President Donald Trump left states in charge of administering vaccines and purchasing protective equipment for health care workers.

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President Joe Biden denotes the significance of unity during America’s trying historical past.

Associated Press

“For almost a year now, Americans could not look to the federal government for any strategy, let alone a comprehensive approach to respond to COVID,” said Jeff Zients, Biden’s White House coronavirus response coordinator. “And we’ve seen the tragic costs of that failure. As President Biden steps into office, that all changes.”

Zients called the plan the “culmination of months of efforts” from Biden’s team to create a strategy that will “fundamentally change the course of this pandemic,” adding that the strategy is driven by “science, data and public health,” not politics.

“This is a national emergency, and we need to treat it accordingly. Defeating the virus requires a coordinated nationwide effort,” he said. 

The White House acknowledged several priorities are contingent on passage of Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that the administration wants Congress to pass quickly.

Biden inauguration: With plain language and open emotion, Biden urges shaken nation to regain its footing in wake of divisive president

Biden challenged all Americans to “mask up” for the next 100 days. He has a goal to administer 100 million vaccines during his first 100 days. He laid out four priorities to do so in a plan introduced last week: allow more people to be vaccinated; create more places for people to get vaccinated; mobilize more medical teams; and increase supply. 

“We’ll move heaven and heath to get more people vaccinated for free,” Biden said, calling it “one of the greatest operational challenges that our nation has ever undertaken.”

Biden signed three orders Wednesday focused on the pandemic: the creation of a COVID-19 coordinator who reports directly to the president, ending the withdrawal from the World Health Organization and requiring masks and social distancing guidelines on federal property.

Senate: Democrats take control of Senate after Harris swears in Ossoff, Warnock and Padilla

Orders and directives signed Thursday do the following:

1. Direct federal agencies to exercise all appropriate authorities, including invoking the Defense Production Act, to accelerate manufacturing and delivery to meet shortfalls in equipment and supplies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

2. Establish the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board to bring the “full force of the federal government’s expertise” to expanding testing supply and increasing access to testing. The order directs federal agencies to facilitate testing free for those who lack health insurance and to clarify insurers’ obligation to cover testing.

3. Direct new studies – including large-scale randomized trials – to identify treatments for COVID-19 with a focus on addressing the needs of diverse populations. The order will direct federal agencies to expand their data infrastructure to increase the collection and sharing of data to support an equitable COVID-19 response and recovery.

4. Direct “a national strategy for safely reopening schools,” including requiring the Education and Health and Human Services departments to provide guidance on the safe reopening and operating of schools, child care providers and higher education institutions.

5. Require masks be worn in airports and certain modes of transportation such as planes, trains, maritime vessels and intercity buses.

6. Establish a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to provide recommendations to the president for allocating resources and funding in communities with inequities in COVID-19 outcomes by race, ethnicity, disability and other considerations.

7. Restore full federal reimbursement to states and tribes – up from 75% – for National Guard personnel and emergency supplies, as well as equipment and manpower for vaccination centers.

8. Direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue updated guidance on COVID-19 worker protections. 

9. Improve access to COVID-19 care and treatment. That includes outlining steps to bolster clinical care capacity, assist long-term care facilities and facilities for people with disabilities, increase health care workforce capacity and support access to COVID-19 therapies for the uninsured. 

10. Direct the restoration of America’s leadership globally to support the “international pandemic response effort.” The directive supports the international health and humanitarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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