President Joe Biden signed several executive orders aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic — orders that require masks during interstate travel, require travelers from foreign countries to quarantine and require government agencies to address the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
"We're in a national emergency. It's time we start treating it like one," Biden said prior to signing the orders.
In prepared remarks, Biden reiterated his administration's goal to administer 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in his first 100 days in office. In order to speed up the process, he ordered the CDC to develop a program to distribute COVID-19 vaccines through local pharmacies and said his administration planned to open 100 vaccination sites across the country.
He also encouraged Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office, adding that by doing so, models have shown it could save as many as 50,000 lives.
On Wednesday, Biden signed an order that mandated masks or face coverings on federal property. He followed that up on Thursday with an order that mandated masks at airports, train stations and other interstate transportation hubs.
He also signed an order requiring foreign travelers to test negative for the virus and quarantine in the U.S. upon arrival.
Finally, Biden took steps to increase the supply of personal protective equipment by invoking the Defense Protection Act and formally established a commission that will investigate racial inequalities in healthcare that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Last week, Biden floated a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus plan that would include $1,400 checks for most Americans, extend unemployment benefits and put a moratorium on evictions for several months.
Biden's steps to address the economic and public health fallout from the pandemic began yesterday when he formally declared that the U.S. would remain in the World Health Organization after former President Donald Trump threatened to remove the U.S. last year. He also extended student loan forbearance and eviction moratoriums in executive orders.