Deep in the deadliest coronavirus wave and facing worrisome new strains, President Joe Biden will initiate a national COVID-19 strategy to ramp up vaccinations and testing, reopen schools and businesses and increase the use of masks — including a requirement that Americans mask up for travel.
Biden also will address inequities in hard-hit minority communities as he signs 10 pandemic-related executive orders on Thursday.
Biden has vowed to take far more aggressive measures to contain the virus than his predecessor, starting with stringent adherence to public health guidance. He faces steep obstacles, with the virus actively spreading in most states, slow progress on vaccination and political uncertainty over how willing congressional Republicans will be to help him pass a $1.9 trillion economic relief and COVID response package.
“We need to ask average Americans to do their part,” said Jeff Zients, the White House official directing the national response. “Defeating the