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COVID-19: Biden Issues Orders On Masks, Schools, Travel, Saying 'This Is A Wartime Undertaking'

President Biden signed 10 COVID-related executive orders on his first full day in office, Thursday, Jan. 21, as Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr. Anthony Fauci looked on.
President Biden signed 10 COVID-related executive orders on his first full day in office, Thursday, Jan. 21, as Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr. Anthony Fauci looked on. Photo Credit: The White House

President Joe Biden has hit the ground running in laying out his COVID-19 response plan to slow down the pandemic, issuing a series of executive orders to combat the spread of the virus, calling it a "wartime undertaking."

On his first full day in office, Thursday, Jan. 21, Biden signed 10 executive orders to combat COVID-19, mandating masks on public transportation across the country and directing agencies to use wartime powers to require American companies to make masks, swabs, and other equipment.

The new travel order also requires international travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before getting on a flight to the United States, something some area officials have been calling on for several weeks.

“Our national plan launches a full-scale wartime effort to address the supply shortages by ramping up production and protective equipment, syringes, needles, you name it,” Biden said.

“And when I say wartime, people kind of look at me like ‘wartime?’ Well, as I said last night, 400,000 Americans have died. That’s more than have died in all of World War II. 400,000. This is a wartime undertaking.”

As part of his first 100 days in office, Biden has also pledged to have 100 million COVID-19 vaccines distributed and administered to states, with the goal of getting between 70 percent and 90 percent of the nation vaccinated to achieve “herd immunity.”

“We've discussed it with the Biden team, and we think it's quite feasible that we can do that,” infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week on TODAY.

“Right now, even now, we've gone from half a million a day to 750,000 a day. I believe strongly that it's doable — and if we do it, stay on target to get the overwhelming majority of the country vaccinated.”

Biden also pledged to ramp up rapid testing with twice as many sites to expedite the safe reopening of businesses and schools, including the installation of a new pandemic testing board to investigate new and effective tests.

“To control the COVID-19 pandemic and safely reopen schools and businesses, America must have wide-spread testing,” the plan states.

“This next one is, I referenced about traveling to America, this is promoting safe travel,” Biden said while rattling off the list of orders he was signing. “This next one is setting up the pandemic testing board. The next one is studying the safe schools initiative. This next one is dictating the COVID data that has to be maintained and recorded.”

“Next one is making sure that the National Guard and FEMA support is available,” the President said. “This next one relates to expanding access to care and treatment for Covid-19. And the last one is our global response directive.”

Biden has vowed to fight the pandemic scientifically, not politically, as he attempts to restore faith and public trust in the federal government.

“Above all, our plan is to restore public trust. We will make sure that scientists and public health experts will speak directly to you," Biden said. ”That's why you're going to be hearing a lot more from Dr. [Anthony] Fauci again, not from the President but from the real genuine experts and scientists.

“We're going to make sure they work free from political interference and that they make decisions strictly based on science and health care alone, science and health alone, not what the political consequences are."

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