President Biden launched his federal government takeover of the country’s coronavirus response by warning the public that it is in for a grim couple of months.
“Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better,” Biden said Thursday at the White House. “The memorial we held two nights ago will not be our last one, unfortunately. The death toll will likely top 500,000 next month. The cases will continue to mount.”
On his first full day in office, Biden rolled out his national strategy to address the pandemic, signing 10 executive actions. His administration’s approach is in stark contrast with the hands-off tactic of former President Donald Trump’s.
“We couldn’t rely on the federal government to act with the urgency and focus and coordination we needed,” he said. “Our national strategy is comprehensive. It’s based on science, not politics. It’s based on truth, not denial.”
His actions, many promised on the campaign trail before being fleshed out during the transition, include invoking the Defense Production Act to boost the manufacturing and distribution of virus-related equipment supplies. He described his posture as “a war-time undertaking.”
Another measure is a testing requirement for travelers hoping to enter the country.
“Everyone flying to the United States from another country will need to test before they get on that plane, before they depart, and quarantine when they arrive in America,” he said.
During the transition period, Biden proposed $400 billion worth of ideas to address COVID-19 in his $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.” That included a national vaccination program to achieve his target of 100 million vaccines within 100 days. On Thursday, he was asked whether he had set his goal too low.
“When I announced it, you all said it’s not possible. C’mon. Gimme a break, man,” he said.
Biden’s executive action Thursday follows other steps taken Wednesday. After he was sworn in at noon, Biden issued a 100-day mask mandate covering federal employees and federal properties.