President Joe Biden released his new strategy for fighting the coronavirus pandemic Thursday morning and will sign a host of new executive orders to achieve that end later in the day.
The strategy itself features seven specific goals, according to senior White House officials:
- Restoring America’s trust in the federal government
- Launch a more expansive vaccination plan
- Expand mask use, testing and the availability of public data
- Invoke the Defense Production Act to surge pandemic resources
- “Safely” reopen businesses and schools
- Prioritize at risk-communities and advance “equity across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines”
- Restore the United States as a global leader on pandemic preparedness
In particular, Biden will create a COVID-19 Response Office within the White House to coordinate the federal government’s actions with those of local governments and individuals. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during her first press briefing Wednesday that the Response Office will hold regular briefings to communicate data and policy updates to the public. (RELATED: Biden’s Chief Of Staff Directs All Executive Agencies To Immediately Freeze Trump’s ‘Midnight Regulations’)
“The federal government cannot solve this crisis alone,” the strategy’s executive summary reads. “Full implementation of the National Strategy for COVID-19 will require sustained, coordinated, and complementary efforts of the American people, as well as groups across the country, including State, local, territorial, and Tribal governments; health care providers; businesses; manufacturers critical to the supply chain; civic, religious and civil rights organizations; and unions.”
Biden will sign nine coronavirus executive orders Thursday, according to the White House. He signed orders Wednesday mandating the wearing of masks on all federal properties, and one of the Thursday orders in particular will mandate masks on “airplanes, trains, and certain other forms of public transportation.”
The orders will additionally direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cover the full cost for states’ and territories’ deployment of National Guard assets, including personal protective equipment, in response to the pandemic. Previously, FEMA covered 75 percent of all operating costs for National Guard coronavirus deployments.
Furthermore, Biden will seek to launch additional testing and vaccination sites in partnership with state and local governments.
The full list of orders Biden will sign Thursday are as follows:
- “Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High Consequence Public Health Threats”
- “Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel”
- “Establishing the National Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats”
- “Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatment for COVID-19”
- “Extend Federal Support to Governors’ Use of National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and other Assistance Provided to States”
- “Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers”
- “A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain”
- “Protecting Worker Health and Safety”
- “Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery”
The full texts of the orders were not available at press time.
The president is expected to sign a record number of executive orders during his first weeks in office. In addition to coronavirus, the orders are expected to address immigration and climate issues.