President Joe Biden on Thursday focused on getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control by rolling out his national strategy that includes several executive actions related to vaccinations and testing in hopes of moving the federal response in a different direction.
“Our national strategy is comprehensive; it’s based on science, not politics. It’s based on truth, not denial, and it’s detailed,” Biden said. He said the 198-page plan is posted on WhiteHouse.gov.
CNN reports that Biden’s plan starts with a national vaccination campaign to meet the President’s goal of administering 100 million shots, which is enough to cover 50 million Americans with vaccines that require two doses, in his first 100 days in office.
“We’re at Day 1,” Biden said.
He said the plan was developed with input from the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, among other advisers and experts.
The day after being sworn-in, Biden was set to sign at least 10 executive orders, memorandums and directives focused on tackling the pandemic, which, as of Thursday morning, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans and infected over 24 million in the US.
Biden was set to sign an order ramping up supplies for vaccination, testing and personal protective equipment and another boosting development of therapeutics to treat COVID-19.
Following through on his campaign proposals, Biden was expected to sign two executive orders creating a National Pandemic Testing Board to improve US coronavirus testing capacity and a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to ensure an “equitable” pandemic response and recovery.
Another executive order will enhance the nation’s collection, production, sharing and analysis of data about the virus.
He directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offer full reimbursement to states for the cost of National Guard personnel and emergency supplies such as PPE for schools.
Biden asked the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services to provide guidance for safe reopening and operating of schools, childcare providers, and institutions of higher education.
He was set to issue an executive order calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release clear guidance on COVID-19, decide whether to establish emergency temporary standards and directs OSHA to enforce worker health and safety requirements.
Building on the order he signed on Wednesday making masks mandatory on federal property, Biden also took action to require facial coverings in airports and on certain modes of transportation, including many trains, planes, maritime vessels and intercity buses. Thursday’s executive order also requires international travellers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before travelling to the US.