President Joe Biden will launch an array of initiatives on Thursday to rein in the raging coronavirus pandemic, tackling his top priority on his first full day in the White House as he tries to turn the page on Donald Trump’s leadership.
Biden will sign 10 executive orders to fight the pandemic, including ordering the use of disaster funds to help re-open schools and mandating the wearing of protective masks on planes and buses, officials said.
The new Democratic president, who took the oath of office on Wednesday, has put the pandemic at the top of a daunting list of challenges he faces in his administration’s early days, including rebuilding a ravaged economy and addressing racial injustice.
Opening a blitz of policy rollouts and executive actions designed to meet some of those challenges, Biden signed 15 executive actions on Wednesday that are designed to turn the page and sweep away some of Trump’s policies.
Those included mandating masks on federal property and halting the withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as issues such as rejoining the Paris climate accord and ending a travel ban on some Muslim-majority countries.
On Thursday, he will sign another round of executive orders related to the pandemic, including requiring mask-wearing in airports and on certain public transportation, including many trains, airplanes, and intercity buses, officials said.
He also plans to sign orders to establish a COVID-19 testing board to ramp up testing, address supply shortfalls, establish protocols for international travelers and direct resources to hard-hit minority communities. Coronavirus has killed more than 400,000 people in the US.
Biden has pledged to provide 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine during the first 100 days of his administration. His plan aims to increase vaccinations by opening up eligibility for more people such as teachers and grocery clerks.
Additionally, Biden will issue a directive on Thursday including the intent to join the COVAX vaccine facility that aims to deliver vaccines to poor countries, his chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, told the WHO.
Other issues to be addressed by the new administration over the next 10 days include healthcare, the economy, immigration and climate change.