Biden launches '100 days mask challenge'; makes COVID-19 test, quarantine mandatory for people entering US
US President Joe Biden has signed a series of executive orders to address COVID-19 challenges, including making coronavirus test followed by quarantine mandatory for all travellers coming from overseas.
In addition to wearing masks, 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, Biden said at a White House event wherein he signed the orders.
Our national plan launches a full-scale wartime effort to address the supply shortages by ramping up production and protective equipment, syringes, needles, you name it. And when I say wartime, people look at me like wartime? Well, as I said last night, 4,00,000 Americans have died. That's more than World War II... this is a wartime undertaking, he said.
The death toll will likely top 5,00,000 next month, he said, adding that the cases will continue to mount.
"We didn't get into this mess overnight and it's going to take months for us to turn things around but let me be equally clear, we will get through this, we will defeat this pandemic, and to a nation waiting for action, let me be the clearest on this point, help is on the way, he said.
Unveiling a national strategy on COVID-19 and executive actions to beat the pandemic, Biden said this plan reflects the ideas he set forward during the campaign, and they have been further refined over the last three months.
The national strategy is comprehensive and detailed, and is based on science and truth not politics and denial, he said.
Biden said the plan starts with mounting an aggressive, safe, and effective vaccination campaign to meet the goal of administering 100 million shots in the first 100 days in office.
"We are on day one. This will be one of the greatest operational challenges our nation has ever undertaken, and I am committed to getting it done; we're committed to getting it done. We will move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated for free, and create more places for them to get vaccinated to mobilise more medical teams to get shots in people's arms and to increase vaccine supply and get it out the door as fast as possible," he said.
Biden said that he has directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to start standing up the first federally supported community vaccination centres. The goal is to stand up 100 centres within the next month, he said.
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will launch the federal pharmacy programme to make vaccines available to communities beginning early February."
"We will also task the Department of Health and Human Services to prepare and expand the pool of medical professionals who can administer the vaccine, and ensure that we have enough vaccinators to meet the nation's needs and quickly," he said.
Biden also signed an executive action to use the Defense Production Act and all other available authorities to direct all federal agencies and private industries to accelerate the making of everything that's needed to protect, test, vaccinate, and take care of people.
Biden said that he, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the entire administration will always be honest and transparent with Americans about both the good news and the bad.
"We will level with you when we make a mistake. We'll straight up say what happened," he said.
Edited by Anju Narayanan