President Biden has unveiled his national strategy to tackle the coronavirus pandemic ahead of two days of executive orders, with an added focus on advancing “equity.”
Over the course of Thursday and Friday, the 46th commander-in-chief will sign 10 executive orders to set his administration’s COVID response plan in motion.
The White House said in releasing its plan that it had seven goals, one of them being “Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.”
The plan says the federal government will “establish a national COVID-19 response structure where decision-making is driven by science and equity.”
More goals include “Restore trust with the American people,” a vaccination campaign, mitigating virus spread, expanding emergency relief, reopening society, and “restore U.S. leadership globally” in preparedness for future threats.
President Joe Biden participates in a televised ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Getty Images
Of the orders Biden will sign, the most notable is the one invoking the Defense Production Act, which allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to force private US companies to produce supplies needed in a national emergency.
The Trump White House invoked the Defense Production Act in March 2020 to produce N95 masks, personal protective equipment and ventilators.
Other orders to be issued by Biden include creating a pandemic testing board focused solely on increasing test availability nationwide, with a focus on schools, as well as requiring the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to provide federal guidance on reopening, “with the goal of getting a majority of K-8 schools safely open in 100 days.”
The newly sworn-in leader will also direct agencies to provide all coronavirus testing free of charge for those who lack health insurance. The order also serves to “clarify insurers’ obligation to cover testing.”
The White House’s plan has seven goals, one of them being to “protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.”AP
Biden will sign multiple executive actions as part of the strategy as well.
Executive orders are legally binding, and as a result, are published in the Federal Register. Executive actions, by contrast, are more often symbolic efforts to enact change.
Some of the executive actions that Biden will sign include one deploying FEMA to create 100 community vaccination sites within a month and imposing a mask mandate on interstate transportation, impacting those traveling by air, rail and possibly by road.
In another move, Biden will also completely restore federal funding to the National Guard’s pandemic response effort, after the Trump administration cut most states’ funding by 25 percent last summer.
Just hours after his inauguration Wednesday, the 46th president signed 17 actions, 15 of which were orders.
Those moves immediately halted the travel ban on countries with heightened terror concerns, as well as construction of the southern border wall.