US President Joe Biden rolled out his national strategy Thursday to bring America out of the nadir of its grim coronavirus pandemic, warning that even with his efforts the worst is yet to come.
Biden inherited a pandemic raging out of control when he took office Wednesday with the US tallying an excess of 140,000 daily cases since December. Daily deaths meanwhile hit a near all-time high on the day Biden took the oath of office when 4,377 fatalities were recorded by Johns Hopkins University.
The only other time that number was surpassed was about a week ago when 4,462 deaths were tallied Jan. 12. In all, 408,011 known deaths have been liked to the virus since the US outbreak began about a year ago, according to Johns Hopkins.
“Let me be very clear, things are going to continue to get worse before they get better,” Biden said at the White House, warning the death toll will likely exceed 500,000 in February. “We didn’t get into this mess overnight, and it is going to take months for us to turn things around. But let me be equally clear, we will get through this. We will defeat this pandemic.”
To expedite the recovery Biden issued a spate of executive orders that establish a wide gamut of measures to thwart the spread, including ordering masks be worn on all mass interstate travel, including on buses, trains, and airplanes, and he mandated that all visitors to the US test negative before departing and quarantine upon arrival.
In addition, the president’s fiats seek to bolster COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, direct FEMA to establish vaccination centers with the goal of setting up 100 by the end of February and will fully reimburse states for the use of their National Guard troops that assist with relief efforts.
It will also establish a health equity task force that will be tasked with increasing public confidence in coronavirus vaccines and fighting “disinformation campaigns that are already underway” as the administration seeks to vaccinate 100 million people in Biden’s first 100 days.
“I know these bold, practical steps will not come cheaply, but failing to do so will cost us so much more dearly,” Biden said. “We are in a national emergency, and it is time we treat it as one.”
Biden previously ordered masks be worn on all federal property and moved to re-establish the global pandemic office in the National Security Council, which former President Donald Trump dismantled before the pandemic began.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’s leading infectious disease expert, is expected to brief the media later Thursday.