On January 21, 2021, President Biden unveiled a significant national strategy for handling the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing pandemic preparedness in general. The president also took initial steps to immediately implement portions of this strategy, issuing several executive orders and memoranda in his first days in office.
Executive orders signed January 21, 2021:
- 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: Addresses potential changes within the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and at the 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; Identifies actions to ensure equitable response, including those to address vaccine hesitancy.
- Establishing a 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, 2021:
- 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.
Executive Order signed on January 22, 2021:
- Economic Relief Related to COVID 19 Pandemic: Provides emergency economic relief to working families, communities and small businesses across the nation.