On his first full day in office, one day after the daily count of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. set a new record high of more than 4,400, President Biden signed additional executive orders aimed at increasing testing and speeding up vaccinations.
In addition to his actions on Wednesday mandating the use of masks on federal property and rejoining the World Health Organization, Biden signed 10 executive orders and directives Thursday that seek to expand access to testing and safety equipment, reopen schools safely and reach his administration’s lofty goal of administering 100 million shots by the end of his first 100 days in office, according to a document provided by the White House that details his pandemic strategy.
More than 400,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19, data from Johns Hopkins University shows, and nearly 25 million Americans have contracted the virus. Biden has admitted that the death toll will likely reach 500,000 next month. Bloomberg reports that about 17 million shots have been administered in the U.S. since vaccinations began on Dec. 14, although the vaccines in use require two separate doses to confer maximum immunity.
Biden’s orders come as at least one new variant of the virus has emerged — one that’s more contagious and could render the vaccine less effective. Biden has warned that there are dark days ahead, and that more deaths will occur during the rollout of the vaccine.
The president acknowledged the death toll Thursday, telling reporters at a news conference that the number is more than the total number of American deaths during World War II.
“This is a wartime undertaking,” he said.
Biden signed an executive order directing agencies to use the appropriate authority, including the Defense Production Act — a 1950 law that allows the president to direct private companies to prioritize orders from the federal government for national defense purposes — to bolster manufacturing and delivery of equipment needed to respond to the pandemic, such as N95 masks, foam swabs and rapid test kits, as well as the manufacture, delivery and administering of the vaccine.
Source: Yahoo News
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