On Day Two of the Biden White House, President Joe Biden told the country, "help is on the way," as he unveiled his national strategy to address the COVID-19 crisis, signing ten executive orders meant to contain the virus and ramp up vaccinations.
The orders include:
- Mask and social distancing mandates on federal property
- Safety measures for travel, including a mask mandate on planes, in airports, and a COVID-19 test prior to air travel
- Helping getting schools the resources they need from Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services to safely reopen
- Building a real-time COVID-19 database that tracks cases, hospital admissions, testing, and vaccinations
- Using the Defense Production Act to produce more personal protective equipment, testing materials, and vaccines
- Addressing healthcare inequities in minority communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19
The President has also vowed to vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days. It’s an ambitious goal, considering the administration’s charge that the Trump team laid close to no groundwork to quickly vaccinate the nation.
New White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the US is currently administering 500,000 shots a day and they plan to double that. She told reporters, "We are working overtime to try to achieve it," adding "we are confident we can achieve this goal."
Addressing the COVID-19 crisis is only part of the challenge. President Biden has identified four crises his team will respond to simultaneously: COVID-19, the economy, racial injustice, and climate.
He has taken initial steps on all four fronts with early executive actions and orders. For example, signing a directive to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, and another extending eviction protections and student loan payment freeze for much of this year.
Some of their goals will require legislation – and wins in a closely divided Senate.
The Biden team, including NIAID Director Dr Anthony Fauci and Jeff Zeints, the head of the Biden COVID-19 task force, vowed that their work will be "based on science, not politics” and “truth, not denial."