New Health Sheriff in Town: Biden Issues Ten New COVID-19 Executive Orders

New Health Sheriff in Town Biden Issues Ten New COVID-19 Executive Orders

According to the BBC from January 21, the new President Biden has signed ten measures, mainly via executive order, in order to redouble our nation’s efforts against COVID-19. Key measures will include accelerated vaccinations, increased testing, and orders to private industry to boost production of PPE. In announcing the ten measures one day after assuming office, the president said it would “take months to defeat the pandemic,” but that the US would “get through this” if folks stood together. Breaking Trump’s emphasis on states having control over the process, Biden is stressing that a nationally controlled policy is needed in this global crisis. For context, over 406,000 have died from COVID-19 in the US per the latest Johns Hopkins University data and almost 24.5 million have been infected. Biden added, “Let me be clear – things will continue to get worse before they get better,” while predicting 500,000 dead by the end of February. “This is a wartime undertaking,” he maintained, while noting that twice as many of Americans have died from COVID-19 as in World War Two.   The U.S. rejoined the World Health Organization (WHO) as well.

Fauci: Biden Will Amplify COVID-19 Fight

Biden called the vaccine rollout as a, “dismal failure so far” and called for 100 million vaccinations during his first 100 days as “one of the greatest operational challenges our nation has ever taken on.” In a reminder of Biden’s periodic imperfect verbiage, when a reported suggested the vaccine target could be too low, the president groused, “When I announced it you all said that it’s not possible. Come on. Give me a break, man.” Also, our new leader promised to be open about negative news and also to let scientists work without political interference. Dr. Fauci also spoke about the vaccine rollout, he noted the Biden government was “amplifying” the existing programs. Fauci hopes that 70-85% of folks will be vaccinated prior to the end of this summer and that this would allow a “degree of normality” by autumn. The nation’s doctor said his main concern now was persuading the skeptical to take a vaccine. Some of current goals are to safely reopen schools within 100 days and the establishment of vaccination centers at both stadiums and other community venues.

Masks Required, Defense Production Act Invoked     

Other orders include reiterating the rule that while mask and social distancing are already mandatory of federal property, a new order promulgates the necessity of face coverings at airports and on many planes, trains, and buses. And international travelers are required to both test negative before leaving for the US and also do 14 days of self-quarantine. Also, local funding  be will increase and, “a new office will be established to co-ordinate the national response.” Moving on, like Trump, Biden is using the Defense Production Act to speed up PPE production and other essential vaccine-production supplies. Key, Dr. Fauci said that the US would enter the Covax program created to help make sure poorer nations aren’t left out of the vaccine programs. This was an exceptional move by Fauci, as the U.S. was the only developed, wealthy economy that omitted to join Covax.  

On to the World Health Organization (WHO)

The new POTUS reversed a course taken by his predecessor—exiting the World Health Organization (WHO). As the coronavirus pandemic gained momentum by May 29, 2020, then President Donald Trump made a controversial move declaring that America would leave WHO and redirect funding to U.S. global health priorities. Considered prudent and sound by some, nationalistic by others, much like many other decisions controversy, division and conflict ensured. By July 6, the U.S. government formally notified the UN Secretary-General of the intention to withdraw. 750 leaders associated with academia, science and law urged the U.S. Congress to thwart such an action. 

As it turned out, many thought this was a horrific move. At the height of a pandemic that knowns no boundaries global collaboration one side argues, is of paramount importance and the WHO is a key forum for such endeavors. After all, the U.S. has been a member since 1948 and no one questioned this until Trump.  Some scientists and lawyers even suggested that the move was a violation of law. One of the first things Biden did on his first day was to reenter the WHO membership. In a press conference, the now chief medical advisor to Biden, Dr. Fauci noted that the U.S. would fulfill its financial obligations to WHO as well as “…Cease the drawdown of U.S. staff who work with the organization” reported NPR the other day.

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