WASHINGTON – President Biden will use his first full day in office on Thursday to go on the offensive against the coronavirus a 21-page national strategy This includes the aggressive use of executive violence to protect workers, promote racial justice and increase the production of test kits, vaccines and consumables.
The “National Strategy for Responding to Covid-19 and Preparing for Pandemics,” unveiled Wednesday night by Mr Biden’s advisors, describes the kind of muscular and highly coordinated federal response that the Democrats and President have long called for Donald J. Trump refused. Instead, Mr. Trump insisted that the state governments take the lead.
A day after Mr Biden was inaugurated at a ceremony full of pomp and ritual but stripped of the usual crowds by the pandemic, he and his team hope to signal the public that their approach will be far more confident.
The new president intends to use his executive powers extensively to sign a dozen executive orders or measures related to Covid-19 – including one that requires the wearing of masks at airports on certain public transport, including many trains, planes and Sea vehicles, ships and intercity buses ”, it says in an information sheet published by the Biden administration.
With its nominations for top health positions, which have not yet been confirmed by Congress, the Biden team has appointed Mr. Trump’s general surgeon, Dr. Jerome Adams, asked to remain as a consultant and help with the transition. However, Mr Biden’s advisors did not shy away from targeting the former president, whose vaccine introduction was heavily criticized.
“The collaboration, or lack of collaboration, by the Trump administration has been an obstacle,” said Jeff Zients, the White House’s new Covid-19 response coordinator, adding, “We don’t have the visibility that we care about supplies and supplies would wish. ” Assignments. “
The Biden team said they identified 12 “immediate supply shortages” that were critical to the pandemic response, including N95 surgical masks and isolation gowns, as well as swabs, reagents and pipettes used in testing – deficiencies that the Nation have been tracking for nearly a year. Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary, told reporters Wednesday night that Mr. Biden was “absolutely obliged” to invoke the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law, to strengthen supplies.
However, the president, who has proposed a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package, will need congressional cooperation to implement much of his ambitious plan, which includes expanding testing of asymptomatic people to reopen schools and Company includes.
“On the asymptomatic screening side, we are unfortunately underutilized. So we need the money to really advance the testing, which is so important for schools and businesses to reopen,” said Zients. “We need the tests. We need the money from Congress to fund the national strategy that the president will work out. “
Mr Biden’s strategy is structured around seven goals, including restoring confidence in the American people through “conducting regular, expert-led, science-based briefings” and promoting justice “across racial, ethnic and rural / urban boundaries away ”- another departure from Mr Biden. Trump’s approach.
The Biden Administration
“The federal government should be the source of the truth for the public to provide clear, accessible, and scientifically accurate information about Covid-19,” Zients said, adding that the new administration will be “honest, transparent and straightforward to the American people.” was to rebuild that trust. “
Mr Biden intends to use his executive powers to create a new pandemic response office at the White House while engaging various federal agencies in more aggressive efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.
In order to protect the health of workers, he will instruct the occupational health and safety authority to “immediately publish clear guidelines for employers”.
He also intends to direct the departments of Education, Health, and Human Services to issue new guidelines for safely reopening schools – a major point of contention during the Trump administration, whose officials disrupted the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines for reopening schools Prevention to urge administrators to bring students back.
To “address the disproportionate and serious effects of Covid-19 on color communities and other underserved populations,” Mr. Biden will establish a Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force. Another executive order will establish a Pandemic Testing Board, an idea stemming from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s War Production Board, to expedite testing and direct trials, including large-scale randomized trials, and identifying treatments for Covid-19 .
And Mr. Biden will direct federal agencies to take whatever action is necessary to “exercise all appropriate agency,” including invoking the Defense Production Act, which allows the government to force businesses to prioritize government orders over those of other customers, to increase the availability of essential supplies.
However, his advisors were unsure when or how the law would be applied.
“Where we can produce more, we will, and if we need to use the Defense Production Act to produce more, so will we,” said Tim Manning, Mr. Biden’s Covid Supply Chain Commander. He added, “It’s time to fix America’s problems with responding to Covid delivery reactions.”
Mr. Biden has repeatedly promised to “get 100 million Covid-19 shots into the arms of the American people” by his 100th day in office – a goal Mr. Zients described as “ambitious but achievable”. The president has already directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin setting up state-sponsored community vaccination centers, with the goal of having 100 centers operational within the next month.
However, some of Mr. Biden’s actions are the same as those of Mr. Trump. For example, Mr Biden will enact an ordinance requiring international travelers to present a negative coronavirus test before leaving for the United States – a requirement that is already in place. And it will extend eligibility to vaccinate to people 65 and over, a move the Trump administration had already taken.
“We will encourage states to open up the authority to include people over 65 and key staff such as educators, teachers, first responders and frontline grocery workers,” said Dr. Bechera Choucair, a former Chicago public health commissioner who is now the Covid vaccine coordinator. “So more people, more places, more offers.”
In addition to defining the president’s strategy, the new government’s call on Wednesday provided the opportunity to introduce the leaders of the Covid-19 response team: Zients, Manning, Dr. Choucair, Carole Johnson, the test coordinator, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Mr. Biden’s top advisor on Racial and Health Justice, will lead the new Justice Task Force.
Dr. Nunez-Smith said her task force would provide specific recommendations to the president on addressing racial inequalities in the Covid-19 response, but said it was too early to know if vaccination recommendations would be changed. Current recommendations, prepared by the C.D.C. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, known as ACIP, do not explicitly prioritize vaccination of people of color who have been disproportionately harmed by the pandemic.
Dr. However, Nunez-Smith noted that they prioritize frontline workers, many of whom are colored people. “I think there is a rationale for why the recommendations, at least for ACIP and C.D.C., do not explicitly name race categories,” she said.