President Joe Biden on Thursday signed 10 executive orders aimed at fighting COVID-19, the viral infection that has claimed nearly 400,000 American lives, a year after it was first identified in the United States.
Update 3:10 p.m. ET Jan. 21: Biden on Thursday signed 10 executive orders to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic nationwide and unveiled a 198-page plan to combat the virus.
“Our national strategy is comprehensive,” Biden said at a news conference at which he formally announced the plan. “It’s based on science, not politics. It’s based on truth, not denial. And it’s detailed.”
Original report: According to Biden’s COVID-19 response coordinator, the orders will be aimed at increasing the number of vaccines and vaccination sites, ramping up the production of supplies needed to administer the vaccine, and dramatically increasing the number of vaccinations being given each day.
“While we will urgently execute the strategy, we do need Congress to act — and act quickly. Congress must provide the necessary funding in the COVID relief package, the American Rescue Plan, that the president will soon be sending them,” Jeffrey Zients, Biden’s COVID-19 response coordinator, told reporters Wednesday.
Biden has set a goal of having 100 million doses of the vaccine administered in the first 100 days of his administration.
“We feel confident that we can meet our 100 million shots in 100 days,” Zients said on a call to reporters Wednesday night. “But that is really just the start of where we need to be. We have to vaccinate as much of the U.S. population as possible to put this pandemic behind us, but we don’t have the infrastructure.”
Here is a look at the executive orders Biden is expected to issue on Thursday:
- Masks: Biden will ask state and local government and business officials to encourage mask wearing and social distancing.
- Travel: Masks will be required on public transportation, including trains, busses and aircraft. In addition, international travelers will have to show proof they are negative for the COVID-19 virus before entering the country. They will also have to quarantine upon arrival.
- Supply chain: Biden will use the Defense Production Act to have companies make supplies such as masks and other protective gear needed for testing, vaccinations and treating people with the virus. The order will also aim to bolster domestic manufacturing of such supplies.
- Funding for states: Biden will call for more funding to local and state officials, in addition to setting up 100 community vaccination sites.
- COVID-19 Response Office: The proposed office would coordinate the response to the pandemic across federal agencies.
- Data-driven dashboard: The order will call for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to publish a dashboard showing COVID-19 cases at the county level, “so that Americans can gauge the level of transmission in their own communities to make their own informed choices,” the order reads.
- Treatment research: This executive order will call for a new drug discovery and development program that focuses on such drugs as remdesivir, an antiviral that has been used to treat COVID patients, including former President Donald Trump.
- Testing: An executive order will establish a COVID-19 testing board to discover effective and rapid tests that can quickly be scaled up and distributed.
- Reopening: The Department of Health and Human Services will be directed to collect data on school reopenings in order to study the risk of sending students back to in-person learning. The order will also call on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to set guidelines on safe workplace practices.
- Equity: The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force will work to ensure that everyone, especially communities of color, has equal access to vaccines, treatments, masks and protective supplies.