US President Joe Biden is expected to turn his focus straight to Covid-19 on his first full day in the Oval Office, tackling an issue that dominated much of the conversation during the campaign and planning in his transition and one he intends to hone in on right away, sources tell CNN.
With the fireworks and the speeches over, here are some of the actions that the Biden administration has taken or will be taking to bring the US epidemic under control:
- US rejoins the WHO: On his first day in office, Biden reversed a decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the World Health Organization. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the President’s newly-installed chief medical adviser, will speak at a WHO meeting Thursday.
- Masks mandatory in federal buildings: Biden's first executive orders also mandate the use of face masks while inside federal buildings, a measure designed to slow the spread of the virus.
- Further executive orders planned: Biden's team says he’ll sign more executive actions on Thursday focusing on the pandemic and guidance on reopening schools and businesses.
- Public briefings to restart: Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden would resume regular briefings with public health officials in addition to the daily White House press briefings, to help inform the public. Former president Donald Trump ended the briefings in April.
- Relief package on the horizon: The new administration is still discussing the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that Biden wants to muscle through Congress. Biden and his advisers have made it clear they want to see this done in a bipartisan manner, but they’re also acknowledging they’re not taking any options off the table.
As they’re thrown full force into tackling the pandemic, Biden and his advisers say they are clear-eyed about the task ahead and acknowledge how swiftly they need to put words into action on this and so many other issues. Speaking Wednesday night, one administration official said: “We’re here to work.”