President Joe Biden released details Thursday of his plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic on his first full day in office, announcing 10 executive orders and invoking wartime powers to require U.S. companies to make necessary safety equipment, such as N95 masks, swabs and other necessary supplies. The president also emphasized the importance of increased testing and vaccinations as well as funding increases to state and local officials.
The plan also focuses on how to safely reopen schools and businesses while slowing the spread of the virus. "The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century," according to the Biden administration's plan. "America has always risen to the challenge we face and we will do so now." Biden comes into office just after the U.S. met the grim milestone of 400,000 COVID deaths, and as more infectious strains of the virus are being discovered across the country.
Biden's movement has been swift, signing more than a dozen executive orders Wednesday, hours after he had been sworn in as president, one of which makes the wearing of masks on federal property mandatory. Masks are also expected to be required on all public transportation and negative COVID tests required from anyone coming into the country from overseas.
Vaccinations are another pillar of the plan, as Biden seeks to accelerate the rollout with more funding to state and local officials, the establishment of more vaccination sites and a national education campaign. The administration will also "surge the health care workforce to support the vaccination effort." Biden had previously announced his administration's goal to administer 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days in office. Jeff Zients, Biden’s coordinator for the COVID response, told reporters Wednesday in a conference call that the 100 million shots would just be a start.
"We feel confident that we can meet our 100 million shots in 100 days," Zients said, as per CNBC. “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."
When it comes to vaccination sites, Biden announced he will direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up 100 community vaccination centers in the next month, and is encouraging states to include a broader swath of the population in their initial vaccine rollout.