US President Joe Biden launched a national strategy to curb the raging coronavirus pandemic on his first full day in office on Thursday, laying out a coordinated federal response long resisted by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Biden’s strategy aims to restore trust in the government, ramp up the vaccination programme, expand testing and mask-wearing, safely reopen schools and businesses, and advance racial equity.
“We can and will beat COVID-19. America deserves a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is driven by science, data, and public health — not politics,” the White House said in a statement.
“The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century.”
The plan also outlines a dozen executive actions to be issued by Biden during his first two days in office, the statement continued.
The new Democratic president is set to deliver remarks on his administration’s COVID-19 response and sign executive orders later on Thursday.
He used his first day in office on Wednesday to issue a raft of executive orders undoing some of Trump’s marquee policies, including mandating masks on federal property and stopping the US exit from the World Health Organisation.
Trump had long downplayed and mismanaged the pandemic, avoided wearing masks in public and refused a federal response in favour of letting state governments take the lead.
The coronavirus has infected 24.4 million people in the US and killed more than 406,000, far more than in any other country.
“Our nation continues to experience the darkest days of the pandemic, with record numbers of cases, hospitalisations and deaths,” the White House said.