News Briefs Archive

The New Executive Orders Impacting Management of the Pandemic

Jan. 27, 2021

President Biden has signed executive orders aimed at curbing the pandemic, according to reporting by WebMD.

His first executive order, signed on his first day in office, requires everyone on federal land or property, including office buildings, to wear masks and to practice social distancing. The order applies to visitors, federal employees and federal contractors.

Biden also ordered federal agencies to use the Defense Production Act to speed the manufacturing and delivery of equipment and supplies, including N95 masks, gowns, gloves, testing equipment and other equipment.

In other moves the President:

  • Ordered that states and territories be reimbursed for 100 percent of the cost of having the National Guard help with testing and vaccine deployment. States previously were shouldering 25 percent of those costs.
  • Created a COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board with the goals of greatly increasing the number of COVID-19 tests done daily, manufacturing more tests and supplies in the U.S. and supporting testing in schools and under-served communities.
  • Signed an order to encourage large-scale randomized trials to find new treatments for COVID-19, and to outline ways to improve treatment now.
  • Will sign an executive order to boost the country’s collection, production, sharing and analysis of data “to support an equitable COVID-19 response and recovery,” the White House said. As part of that order, the U.S. will create online dashboards for the public to see national and state-by-state-level data on cases, testing, vaccinations and hospital admissions with real-time updates.

These new orders follow President Biden’s moves to launch his goal of vaccinating 100 million people in the first 100 days of his term. He ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to create federally supported community vaccination centers, with the goal of opening 100 in the next month. The CDC, too, was ordered to launch a federal pharmacy program to make vaccines available in local drugstores in February.

The new president has also made it a priority for the nation’s public schools to reopen as soon as possible. President Biden later clarified that the goal is limited to students in kindergarten through the eighth grade, with the goal of having students in classrooms within 100 days. To help make that happen, the President has ordered the departments of Education and Health and Human Services to advise school districts, child care providers, and colleges and universities on best practices to open safely.

In addition, President Biden signed an order mandating mask usage in airports and on many planes, trains, ships and intercity buses, according to reporting by The Washington Post: “The White House said Thursday that the order ‘directs applicable agencies to take immediate action to require mask-wearing on many airplanes, trains,’ maritime vessels and intercity buses.”

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