Published On: Thu, Jan 21st, 2021

COVID-19 tops Biden’s agenda on his first full day in office

Washington — The coronavirus pandemic is at the top of President Joe Biden’s agenda on his first full day in office. He is expected to sign 10 executive orders Thursday as part of his strategy to combat COVID-19, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans and infected more than 24 million people nationwide.

The administration has outlined a plan that aims to vastly expand testing and vaccine availability, reopen a majority of schools in the next 100 days, and administer 100 million vaccine doses by the end of April. 

White House officials acknowledge, however, that much of their plan will be impossible if Congress doesn’t pass the administration’s nearly $2 trillion coronavirus proposal

The new president has already taken action to bolster the federal government’s response to the pandemic — and to target some of former President Donald Trump’s most controversial initiatives. In the Oval Office on Wednesday, hours after he was sworn in, Mr. Biden signed a stack of executive orders and actions on COVID-19, immigration, climate change, racial equality and other issues.

Among his first actions were orders to mandate the wearing of masks on all federal property, rejoin the Paris climate accord and boost federal support for underserved communities.

“We need to ask average Americans to do their part,” said Mr. Biden’s COVID response coordinator Jeffrey Zients. “Defeating the virus requires a coordinated nationwide effort.”

“What we’re inheriting [from the Trump administration] is so much worse than we could have imagined,” he said.

In a major shift from the Trump era, the Biden administration on Thursday also thanked the World Health Organization for leading the pandemic response globally. Dr. Anthony Fauci announced the U.S. will resume funding for the U.N. health agency.

U.S. President Joe Biden prepares to sign a series of orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., after being sworn in at the US Capitol on January 20, 2021. 

JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Contributing: Arden Farhi and The Associated Press 

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