January 21, 2021
Biden releases national strategy for COVID-19 response
Also signs executive orders to equitably expand testing and vaccines, safely reopen
On January 21, President Joe Biden released his "National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness" and signed a series of executive orders aimed at ramping up COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, advancing an equitable response to the pandemic, and safely reopening schools and businesses. In releasing the plan, President Biden tried to manage expectations, saying that the COVID-19 death toll would likely top 500,000 in February, and that while "it's going to take months" to turn things around, "help is on the way" to defeat the pandemic. According to the strategy documents, their plan starts with "restoring public trust and mounting an aggressive, safe, and effective vaccination campaign. It continues with the steps we know that stop the spread like expanded masking, testing, and social distancing."
The plan lays out how the federal government will work with states, cities, Tribal communities, and private industry to increase supply and administer testing and vaccines to help reopen schools and businesses safely. The strategy will be "driven by scientists and public health experts" who will regularly speak to the public and make decisions strictly on science and public health, "free from political interference." Equity is also outlined as a central component of their strategy "so that the communities and people being disproportionately infected and killed by the pandemic receive the care they need and deserve." The strategy is organized around seven goals and will be executed through the establishment of a COVID-19 Response Office that will coordinate the efforts across all federal department and agencies. The seven goals are:
President Biden also signed several executive orders that feed into the White House's broader strategy. The orders lay the groundwork for the more liberal use of the Defense Production Act to produce more medical supplies; create a panel dedicated to boosting testing; support state efforts to deploy public health personal to combat COVID-19; launch new initiatives to administer vaccines, improve treatments, and increase access to care; strengthen pandemic data collection and transparency; order more extensive guidance for safe school and business reopening, and more.