Since taking office on Thursday Jan 21st, US President Joe Biden has moved swiftly. On the top on his agenda is to coordinate a federal effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Steps are being taken to increase mask-wearing in the country. This comes along with expanding testing and vaccinations.
The roll out of the vaccine in the United States has been a “dismal failure so far” according to Biden during a White House event.
Referring to current data on the COVID-19 toll, Biden said “Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.”
To curb the spread of the virus, he made a personal plea to all Americans to wear masks for the next 99 days. This is due to the fact that COVID-19 has currently killed 405,000 people and infected over 24 million in the United States. Based on this data, the US has the highest number of infections and deaths in the world.
Lockdowns caused by the pandemic are making millions of Americans jobless.
Biden said “This is a wartime undertaking.”
Donald Trump, his predecessor, downplayed the severity of the crisis while in office, which is a stark difference to Biden’s immediate actions.
On Thursday, Biden put his signature on several executive orders. They include establishing a COVID-19 testing board to ramp up testing, address supply shortfalls and direct resources to hard-hit minority communities. Protocols for international travelers will also come into effect.
Biden said “We’re in a national emergency.” Seeking to restore public trust, the President also said it is time they treat the situation as such.
Various government agencies must “immediately take action” from the executive orders. This includes wearing masks on or in airports, commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, including ferries, intercity bus services and all public transportation. However, government officials will have the authority to issue exemptions for certain cases.
Travelers to the US will now need to quarantine upon arrival says Biden, along with testing negative for COVID-19 before flying.
The CDC recommends a seven-day quarantine for people from nearly every country arriving in the Unites States.
The President is directing agencies to re-implement international contact tracing requirements for US-bound passengers. The White House under the Trump administration abandoned this measure. During that time, they also abandoned a possibility of follow-up COVID-19 testing for travelers after they arrive in the United States.
According to the White House plan, vaccine manufacturing will be expanded by the administration. The Biden administration will use its authority to purchase more vaccines. This will be by “fully leveraging contract authorities, including the Defense Production Act.“
The Trump administration had invoked the law granting the president broad authority to “expedite and expand the supply of resources from the US industrial base” for protective gear. However, this law was never enacted for testing or vaccine production.
President Biden will direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse states and tribes for all costs associated with National Guard-related efforts to battle the pandemic.
The FEMA Disaster Relief Fund for costs related to reopening schools will receive “full reimbursement” from the measure. Typically, FEMA disperses funds after natural disasters, e.g., hurricanes, floods, occur.
During his first 100 days in office, Biden has pledged to provide 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Opening up eligibility to include more people like teachers and grocery clerks, makes his plan to increase vaccinations more accessible.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 38 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed. Out of this number, 17.5 million doses have been administered as of Thursday morning.
22nd January 2021 23:00
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