President Biden's first full day in office had one main focus: COVID-19. Biden signed 10 executive orders aimed at speeding up the nation's recovery and curbing the spread of the virus, reports NBC News. But he also cautioned that things will get worse in the near future. "We didn't get into this mess overnight and it is going to take months to get it turned around," he said. "But let me be equally clear, we will get through this, we will defeat this pandemic." The US just eclipsed 400,000 deaths, and Biden warned that the toll could exceed 500,000 by next month. The executive orders are designed to improve vaccinations, testing, treatments, and mask use, and funnel more money toward states. They also lay the groundwork to help schools and businesses reopen safely, reports the AP.
The orders will require masks at airports and stipulate that Americans mask up for travel on planes, trains, buses, and public transportation. Anyone traveling here from abroad must have a negative COVID test and agree to quarantine upon arrival. The new national strategy "is far from a federal takeover of the nation’s efforts to cope with the worst health calamity in a century," per the Washington Post. "Yet it represents a pronounced shift away from the Trump administration’s deference to each state to design its own plan." Biden's COVID coordinator, Jeff Zients, told reporters on a conference call that "what we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined." Zients called Biden's goal of getting 100 million people vaccinated in his first 100 days "ambitious and achievable." (Read more President Biden stories.)