On his first day as President of the United States, Joe Biden kept his campaign promise Thursday (21) and announced a series of initiatives to try to contain the coronavirus pandemic and speed up vaccination in the country .
Some of the measures represent a break with the policy advocated by his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, who dismissed the country from the WHO (World Health Organization) and refused to impose restrictions on the population.
Biden, who officially took office on Wednesday (20), immediately rescinded the entity’s departure and signed a series of executive orders – a mechanism that does not need US congressional approval to take effect – which facilitate the distribution of vaccines and create new ones. social distancing rules.
Among the new measures, any traveler wishing to enter the United States will have to present a test with a negative result before boarding the plane and will still have to undergo a quarantine on arrival.
Additionally, wearing a mask is mandatory for all interstate travel within the United States, including air, boat, train, and bus.
During the announcement in which he outlined the new rules, Biden did not specify the length of the quarantine and the number of days in advance for the test. He also did not specify what the punishment would be for those who break the rule.
For the announcement, the president was joined by his deputy, Kamala Harris, and physician Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He is considered one of the US government’s top infectologists and was initially one of the leaders in the country’s response to the pandemic.
Fauci, however, had to go public several times to deny or clarify Trump’s false claims, which ended up scaring the doctor over the main events against the disease.
Biden, for his part, has made it clear during the campaign that he wants to return the infectologist to the leading role, allowing him to become one of the faces of the public efforts against Covid-19.
“Above all, our plan is to restore public confidence. We will ensure that scientists and public health experts speak to you directly,” the Democrat said at the White House event.
“That’s why you’re going to be hearing a lot more from Dr Fauci again, not the president,” Biden added, is a clear criticism of the Trump administration.
In a press conference soon after, the infectious disease specialist himself referred to the previous government and said that in the new administration, when he doesn’t know something, he is allowed to say so publicly to the instead of invoking a response.
It was up to Fauci, who also became a senior advisor on Covid-19 at the White House, to announce at a WHO meeting this Thursday morning that the United States would join the Covax consortium, an initiative of the entity which aims to make the coronavirus vaccine available to the entire world population.
The infectologist had also declared his support for Biden’s campaign pledge to deliver 100 million vaccines during his first 100 days in office.
To achieve this, Biden announced that his government was planning to use pharmacies in small towns to distribute the vaccines. Asked by reporters during the presentation if the goal was not too ambitious, the Democrat was irritated and asked the reporter who asked the question to “take a break”.
The new president also ordered Fema (the agency responsible for responding to emergencies in the United States), to designate an official in each American state to deal with the response to the coronavirus.
The idea is that this person will receive requests from local authorities and immediately forward them to the federal government, in order to expedite the response – this pattern is common in natural disasters in the country.
Biden also authorized agency funds to be used to pay for the additional costs states must have to leave schools, daycares and colleges open during the pandemic. The money can also be used to pay for the service of National Guard officers involved in the fight against Covid-19.
The Democrat also signed an ordinance invoking the Defense Protection Act. The mechanism, created for wartime, establishes that federal agencies and American industry should prioritize efforts to help the country.
This allows, for example, Biden to order a particular private industry to produce certain equipment needed to fight the coronavirus – Trump even used the law to force some residents to produce respirators at the start of the pandemic.
Biden, however, has signaled that he intends to use the rule more widely than the Republican, as many colleagues in his party have called for in recent months.
“Our national plan launches a large-scale war effort to resolve the shortage of supplies by ramping up production of security equipment, syringes, needles, whatever is needed,” the Democrat said during the speech. Thursday.
“When I say ‘war effort’ do people see me as ‘war effort’? Well like I said last night 400,000 Americans are dead [por causa do coronavírus]. That’s more than they died in World War II. 400,000 is a war effort, ”he added.
Despite news of his government’s new efforts against Covid-19, Biden said the pandemic was far from over in the country and the number of Americans killed by the disease is expected to reach 500,000 in February.
“Over the past year, we cannot count on the federal government to act with the urgency, focus and coordination needed. And we have seen the tragic cost of this failure,” he said.
To try and stop the spread of the coronavirus, he also asked that for the next hundred days all Americans wear a mask whenever possible – a recommendation Trump has refused to give.