Biden issues COVID-19 executive orders

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President Joe Biden signed 10 new directives on Thursday to fight the pandemic. He ordered the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch a program to make vaccines available through local pharmacies starting next month, building on a plan devised by the Trump administration.

He also issued executive orders mandating masks for interstate travel, expanding coronavirus tests, and requiring travelers from abroad to test negative and quarantine upon arrival.

Biden told the departments of Education and Health and Human Services to provide clear guidance for reopening schools. States can tap into federal disaster relief funds for help in returning kids to classrooms.

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The Biden administration has set a goal of administering 100 million vaccinations in its first 100 days, a modest increase on the 912,497 daily average over the last seven days of the Trump administration, according to Bloomberg’s compilation data

How quickly will the new administration get to work?

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Biden’s first cabinet appointee, Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence. It confirmed his nominee for secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, today on a 93-2 vote—making Lloyd the first African American to hold the position. 

Biden’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, Xavier Becerra, likely will not come up for a vote before February. But the new head of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, does not need Senate confirmation and has already begun her work.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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