With the stroke of a pen, President Joe Biden’s first round of executive orders forged a commitment to combatting the coronavirus pandemic and its associated economic fallout.
On his first day in office on Wednesday (Jan. 20) Biden dismantled his predecessor’s legacy, signing at least 10 executive actions to flip the trajectory on immigration, racial equality, climate change, and the handling of the COVID-19 crisis, according to a presidential brief. Two of his executive orders specifically targeted the ongoing pandemic.
Biden’s policy stresses a national strategy rather than relying on states to decide what is best.
“The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century,” the plan says. “America has always risen to the challenge we face and we will do so now.”
A 200-page document — “National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness” — calls for mask mandates for all federal employees, and on federal property and public transportation. Biden also directed agencies to require U.S. companies to make N95 masks, swabs and other necessary equipment.
“With the state of the nation today there’s no time to waste. We’re going to get to work immediately. As we indicated earlier we’re going to be signing a number of executive orders over the next several days to weeks and I’m going to start today,” Biden said.
In another executive order, Biden established the Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response to lead the country’s testing and vaccine programs, as well as to support the reopening of schools and “reduce disparities in the response, care, and treatment of COVID-19, including racial and ethnic disparities,” the presidential brief noted.
Aligned with Biden’s campaign promises, he will launch a National Pandemic Testing Board to enhance the country’s testing capacity for the virus. A Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force will be formed 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 coronavirus.
Biden said he would use the Defense Protection Act to prioritize manufacturing in the interest of national defense. Biden also said his stimulus package will push for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.