US President Joe Biden swears in presidential appointees during a virtual ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo: AFP/RSS)
WASHINGTON: Joe Biden’s administration unveiled a detailed Covid-19 roadmap Thursday to boost vaccinations and testing while centering scientific expertise, after the new US president warned during his inaugural speech the pandemic was entering its “deadliest period.”
Officials said Biden would immediately sign 10 executive orders and other directives to jumpstart the national strategy.
Experts have said that was sorely missing under his predecessor Donald Trump — and on Thursday Biden’s communications director Kate Bedingfield said the outgoing administration had left little in the way of a vaccination distribution program.
There was “not a lot of detail,” she told CNN — but she added that Biden would sign executive orders that same day to invoke emergency legislation to increase industrial production and “just to make sure that we have the material that we need to get these vaccinations into arms around the country.”
The Biden administration would be “laser-focused” on that going forward, she added, saying it seeks to increase supply, boost distribution and secure the funding to make it all happen.
The US is the world’s hardest-hit country with more than 405,000 deaths, and government models suggest the B.1.1.7 variant imported from Britain could supercharge the outbreak’s trajectory in the coming months.
Biden’s presidency will initially be shaped by his response to Covid-19 and the associated economic emergency.
Whereas Trump seldom acknowledged the tragic toll the virus was inflicting on Americans, Biden paused in his inaugural address — which the public was essentially barred from attending due to the pandemic — to offer a moment’s silent prayer for its victims.