“There are moments in history when more is asked of a particular generation — more than is asked of Americans in another time. We are in that moment now,” said newly inaugurated President Joe Biden on Thursday.
“History’s going to measure whether we were up to the task. I believe we are.”
Biden then previewed a nearly 200-page plan that was being released to the public. “This is the model we used to respond to Hurricane Sandy,” he said. He also signed 10 executive orders related to fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
On Day 2 of his presidency, Biden announced 100 federally funded vaccination centers. He said there would be “a Covid liaison for each state,” a move that would hopefully clear up recent confusion between those parties about allotments and delivery.
He called for “a wartime effort by ramping up production … to accelerate the making of everything that’s needed.”
“We’re going to put the full force of the federal government behind testing,” said the president, adding that the American people will receive briefings “not from the president but from the real experts in science.” A short time later, in fact, Dr. Anthony Fauci lead the administration’s first Covid briefing. He confirmed that Biden will “exercise all appropriate authority, including the Defense Production Act,” to increase supplies of vaccines, masks and whatever else is needed.
Americans will need to wear masks for interstate travel. Biden said specifically that masks would be required on “planes, trains and buses.” He called masking up “a patriotic act.”
All international travelers coming into the U.S. will have to be tested before departure and quarantine for 10 days after arrival, the president said.
“Let me be clear: Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better,” he warned. “The death toll will likely top 500,000 next month.”
He added: “We didn’t get into this overnight. The brutal truth is, it’s going to take months to get Americans vaccinated.”
And that effort “will be one of the greatest operational challenges out country has even done.”
Biden also rattled off brief descriptions of each of the executive orders as he signed them. According to the president, they addressed:
- Supply chain
- Keeping workers safe
- Ensuring equitable response
- Promoting safe travel
- Setting up a pandemic testing board
- Studying a safe schools commission
- Maintaining Covid data
- Expanding access and care and treatment
- Making sure the National Guard and FEMA are available
- Our global response directive