Posted: Friday, January 22, 2021. 1:25 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: On his first full day as President of the United States, Joe Biden signed a raft of executive orders to boost the fight against COVID-19, including acceleration of vaccination and testing and increasing production of essentials like masks, the BBC reports.
President Biden favours a national strategy rather than his predecessor Donald Trump’s strategy of relying on states to decide what is best.
The U.S. has seen nearly 24.5 million COVID-19 infections and more than 406 thousand deaths, with Biden warning that the deadliest period is approaching.
A seven-point plan was introduced which included efforts to facilitate effective distribution of vaccines and reliable access to testing.
100 million vaccine doses it is hoped will be given out by the end of April, and most schools are to be reopened safely within 100 days. Vaccine centres will be established at stadiums and community facilities. There will be more funding for state and local officials to help tackle the pandemic, and a new office will be established to co-ordinate the national response. The Defense Production Act will be used to speed up production of personal protective equipment and essential supplies needed for vaccine production. Trump used the same piece of legislation to compel the production of items in short supply last year.
On top of the already announced rules on wearing masks and social distancing on all federal government property, face coverings will become mandatory on many planes and trains.
Biden’s now-chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, said the U.S. would join the Covax scheme designed to deliver Covid vaccines to poor countries. Speaking by video call to the World Health Organization in Geneva, Dr Fauci also stressed that the U.S. would continue to provide funding for the WHO, in line with Biden’s move to reverse Trump’s decision to leave.
The orders are among many Biden has signed in his first hours after inauguration, including reversing Trump’s policies on climate change and immigration.
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