FILE PHOTO: A medical worker wearing protective gear stands next to an ambulance outside a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kyiv, Ukraine November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

President Joe Biden spent most of his first full day in office focused on undoing the damage caused by the pandemic.

Biden barely had time to enjoy a piece of inauguration cake before issuing 17 executive orders erasing many of former President Donald Trump’s most controversial actions. Biden’s orders include rejoining the Paris Agreement to combat climate change and the World Health Organization, ending the so-called Muslim ban that blocked travel to the U.S. and halting construction of the border wall. They also include enforcing a moratorium on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (and undoing other environmental policy rollbacks) and ending the 1776 Commission that critics said diminished the role of slavery. 

Then he washed his hands Thursday and went to work on the coronavirus. He knows the clock is ticking, given that the Centers for Disease Control projects 100,000 more U.S. deaths in the next few weeks (that would bring the total to more than half a million). Step one appears to be putting together a vaccine distribution plan, as the previous administration simply didn’t have one.

“What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Jeff Zients, the new White House COVID-19 response coordinator said of what Trump’s team left behind to deal with the virus. 

Biden planned to sign 10 more executive orders Thursday afternoon related to the coronavirus. His goals include ramping up testing, helping schools reopen, regular public briefings by health officials, working with states to create more vaccine centers and using the Defense Production Act, which allows the president to direct the manufacture of critical supplies during wartime. The orders will also include a mandate for Americans to mask up when traveling.

The actions also put the onus of combatting the virus on the federal government, a significant shift in philosophy from the Trump administration’s expectations of letting states handle much of the work. 

“For almost a year now, Americans could not look to the federal government for any strategy, let alone a comprehensive approach to respond to COVID, and we’ve seen the tragic costs of that failure,” Zients said.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Words of Division – City Journal – 1/20/2021
It’s an odd way to seek national unity: call a significant portion of the American public white supremacists, racists, and nativists. Welcome to the Biden presidency.

If They Nail Vaccinations, Drugstores Will Be the Heroes of 2021 – Bloomberg – 1/21/2021
They won’t eliminate the need for stadiums and other mass inoculation sites, but chains such as CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. have the advantage of being everywhere. 

It Is A Dark Time For Conservatives. But There Is A Way Forward. – Conservative Review – 1/21/2021
Joe Biden, a man with the mental acuity and awareness of an oyster is now in the White House, where he will be taken by the hand, guided into a closet and handed some coloring books to keep him busy while Kamala Harris runs the government — a government that will be, let’s face it, radically far-left and entirely unfettered.

10 reasons for hope after Inauguration Day – Salon – 1/21/2021
Biden will put his stamp immediately on the effort to rein in COVID-19, marshalling the power of the federal government, which has largely laid dormant because of Trump’s refusal to take the lead in everything from testing to distribution of PPE. The difference will play out both in terms of resources allocated for the mammoth enterprise of vaccinating Americans as well as national management of a public health disaster without precedent since the 1918 flu.

How Joe Biden Misunderstands Unity – The Federalist – 1/21/2021
Yesterday’s remarks from Joe Biden were what we thought they would be: a lot of talk about unity, and a lot of condemnations of other Americans along the way. The unity talk went over just as expected, with Republicans rolling their eyes. 

Amazon to Biden: Prioritize our workers for the vaccine – CNN Business – 1/21/2021
In a letter sent to Biden Wednesday, Amazon (AMZN) executive Dave Clark wrote that the company “stands ready to assist” in vaccinating 100 million Americans in the first 100 days, as Biden has pledged to do.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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