On his first two days in office, President Joe Biden signed 10 executive orders to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, mandating masks on public transportation and directing agencies to use wartime powers to require U.S. companies to make N95 masks, swabs and other equipment.
The president’s plan emphasizes ramping up testing for the coronavirus, accelerating the pace of vaccinations and providing more funding and direction to state and local officials, according to a copy of it released Thursday. A key component of the plan is restoring trust with the American public. It also focuses on vaccinating more people, safely reopening schools, businesses and travel as well as slowing the spread of the virus.
“For the past year, we couldn’t rely on the federal government to act with the urgency and focus and coordination we needed. And we have seen the tragic cost of that failure: 3,000-to-4,000 deaths per day,” Biden said Thursday afternoon before signing eight of the ten executive orders. Two of them were signed Wednesday. “American hospitals are out of beds. Businesses are closed for good. Schools are caught in between. And while the vaccine provides so much hope, the rollout has been a dismal failure thus far.”
Biden has taken office at a pivotal moment in the pandemic. Nearly 3,000 Americans are dying every day of Covid-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and newly discovered strains that are more contagious are establishing footholds in the U.S., threatening to push the nation’s outbreak to even more deadly heights. The plan released Thursday expands on initiatives outlined last week and details how Biden plans to bring the outbreak under control and help the country recover.
But in unveiling the plan Thursday, Biden warned that the outbreak will get worse before it gets better. He said the U.S. death toll will likely top 500,000 next month and will take months to turn around.
“We didn’t get into this mess overnight,” he said. “We will get through this. We will defeat this pandemic. And to a nation waiting for action, let me be the clearest on this point, help is on the way.”
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