This week, President Biden unveiled a significant national strategy for handling COVID-19 and addressing pandemic preparedness generally. The President also took initial steps to immediately implement portions of this strategy, issuing several executive orders and memoranda.
Executive Orders signed January 21 include:
- Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats: Establishes a Pandemic Testing board to identify issues and assist in implementation of testing solutions; directs actions to address the cost of COVID-19 testing; Establishes a public health workforce plan
- Protecting Worker Health and Safety: Address potential changes within OSHA and at state level to better protect workers from COVID-19 and ensure workers previously not identified but at risk have adequate protections
- Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers: Identifies actions to assist in the safe reopening of schools and early childhood education
- Ensuring Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery: Establishes a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force; Identified actions to ensure equitable response, including those to address vaccine hesitancy
- Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain: Requires an immediate inventory of response supplies and identification of areas of need; directs use of Defense Production Act to address shortages
- Ensuring a data-driven response to COVID-19 and Future High-Consequence Public Health Threats: Enhances COVID-19 data collection and seeks to strengthen public health infrastructure
- Improving and Expanding Access for COVID-19 Care and Treatments: Mandates development of plans to support research that assist in advancing COVID-19 therapies; seeks to improve capacity to address COVID-19 in a variety of settings
- Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel: Immediately requires masks on domestic forms of transportation (airplanes, trains, buses, etc.) and requires negative COVID-19 tests, quarantine or combination thereof for entry into the United States from travel abroad
Memoranda issued on January 21 include:
- Directive to Extend Federal Support to Governor’s Use of National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and other Assistance Provided to States: Provides full federal funding for National Guard response to COVID-19; Provides fully-funded FEMA assistance to state, local, and tribal efforts to reopen and operate schools, child care facilities, healthcare systems, shelters, transit systems and others.