President Biden’s COVID-19 Related Executive Actions

President Biden’s COVID-19 Related Executive Actions

Creation of the Coordinator of COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President:

On Wednesday (Jan. 20), the president signed the ‘Executive Order on Organizing and Mobilizing the United States Government to Provide a Unified and Effective Response to Combat COVID-19 and to Provide United States Leadership on Global Health and Security.’ This EO creates a new position in the White House, the coordinator of COVID-19 response and counselor to the president. The coordinator will be tasked with advising the president, executive departments, and agencies in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The coordinator will be in charge of managing all aspects of the federal pandemic response, including: reduction of disparities in response, treatment, and care of COVID-19; production, supply, and distribution of personal protective equipment; vaccine and testing initiatives; reopening of schools; and collaboration with state, local, and tribal governments. 

The EO also requires the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA) to convene the National Security Council to reengage in global COVID-19 response efforts and reverses the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO).

To view the EO, click here.

Federal Mask-Wearing Mandate:

On Wednesday (Jan. 20), the president signed the ‘Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing.’ The EO requires the executive department and agency heads to require compliance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mask-wearing guidance, physical distancing, and public health measures, by all on-duty and on-site federal employees or contractors and all persons on Federal property.

To view the EO, click here

Supply Chain:

On Thursday (Jan. 21), the president signed the ‘Executive Order on a Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain.’ The EO requires the secretaries of State, Defense, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services (HHS), and the coordinator for COVID-19 response to immediately review the availability of critical PPE and medical supplies necessary to produce and distribute tests and vaccines. The agency heads will be required to submit an assessment form detailing whether U.S. industries can support this demand. 

Agencies will be empowered to use the full strength of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to fill any shortfalls. The HHS secretary will be required to submit a report on the inventory of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). 

Additionally, the EO outlines how agency heads may address pricing of critical supplies and calls for the coordinator of the COVID-19 Response, the APNSA, the assistant to the president for domestic policy, and relevant agency heads to provide the president with a strategy to design, build, and sustain long-term U.S. manufacturing capabilities to protect against future pandemics and biologic threats.

To view the EO, click here.

Treatment:

On Thursday (Jan. 21), the president signed the ‘Executive Order on Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatments for COVID-19.’ The EO requires the HHS secretary and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a range of studies to identify COVID-19 management strategies and support promising treatments. 

Additionally, the EO calls on the secretaries of Defense, HHS, Veterans Affairs, and the coordinator of COVID-19 response to provide targeted surge assistance to critical care and long-term care facilities (LTCF). The agency heads will be required to establish targets for production, allocation, and distribution of COVID-19 treatments, and are encouraged to prioritize investments in therapeutics that can be easily transported and sealed. 

Agency heads are also asked to evaluate the COVID-19 Uninsured Program to ensure treatment and clinical care access for individuals without coverage, as well as coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, and private health plans. 

To view the EO, click here.

Testing:

On Thursday (Jan. 21), the president signed the ‘Executive Order on Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats.’ The EO establishes a COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board. The Testing Board will be chaired by the coordinator of COVID-19 response and include representatives from executive departments designated by the president. 

The Testing Board will be tasked with coordinating federal diagnostic, screening, and surveillance testing, and will make recommendations to the president on the prioritization of federal assistance to state, local, and tribal governments to expand testing.  

The EO also calls on the secretaries of HHS and Labor to consult with state, local, and tribal leaders on the challenges they are facing in recruiting and training testing personnel. 

To view the EO, click here.

Workforce Safety:

On Thursday (Jan. 21), the president signed the ‘Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety.’ The EO requires the secretary of Labor issue revised guidance to employers on workforce safety during the COVID-19 pandemic within two weeks of the date of the order. 

The secretary will also be required to consider temporary emergency standards, such as mask-wearing, that may need to be put in place. Additionally, the secretary must review the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) efforts to identify short-term and long-term changes that could better protect workers, and coordinate with states that have occupational safety and health plans approved under section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to ensure these plans adequately protect workers from COVID-19.

To view the EO, click here.

Health Equity:

On Thursday (Jan. 21), the president signed the ‘Executive Order on Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery.’ The EO establishes a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force within HHS. Task Force membership will include the HHS secretary and a chair designated by the secretary, as well as heads of relevant executive departments, and up to 20 private sector members appointed by the president.

The Task Force will be responsible for providing recommendations to the president on mitigating health disparities caused or heightened by the pandemic. The Task Force will also provide recommendations to agencies responsible for disbursing COVID-19 relief funds regarding how to distribute funds in a manner that promotes equity.

The EO also includes a number of provisions guiding health disparity data collection and distribution between the Task Force and relevant agencies.  

To view the EO, click here.

Safe Travel:

On Thursday (Jan. 21), the president signed the ‘Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel.’ The EO requires relevant agency heads to require mask-wearing on certain modes of public transportation, including: airplanes, commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, and intercity bus services. The EO urges agency heads to consult with the coordinator for COVID-19 response to determine additional protective measures. 

Additionally, the EO requires individuals entering the U.S. from a foreign country to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry and comply with other applicable quarantine and self-isolation requirements.

To view the EO, click here.

Reopening:

On Thursday (Jan. 21), President Biden signed the ‘Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers.’ The EO instructs the secretaries of Education and HHS to create guidance to assist states and schools in deciding if and how to reopen as well as how to remain open. The EO also asks the agency heads to create guidance on distance learning and asks the director of the Institute of Education Sciences to collect data in order to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on students and educators. 

Additionally, the EO instructs the secretary of HHS to submit a report to the assistant to the president for domestic policy and the coordinator of the COVID-19 response that identifies strategies to address the educational impact of COVID-19, especially along racial and socioeconomic lines. 

To view the EO, click here.

Data Collection:

On Thursday (Jan. 21), the president signed the ‘Executive Order on Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High-Consequence Public Health Threats.’ The EO requires all heads of executive departments and agencies to share and publish data relating to COVID-19 in coordination with the coordinator of the COVID-19 response. Additionally, the EO requires the following executives designate a senior official to serve as each department/agency’s lead for COVID19-related issues: secretaries of Defense, Commerce, Labor, HHS, and Education; the attorney general; and the directors of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), National Intelligence, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and National Science Foundation. 

The EO also instructs the director of the Office of Personnel Management and the director of OMB to review agencies’ ability to hire personnel quickly and, if needed, take action to support agencies in hiring. Lastly, the EO directs the secretary of HHS to review data collection methods, and instructs the director of the OSTP and National Science and Technology Council to create a plan to increase innovation in U.S. health data and analytics. 

To view the EO, click here.

FEMA and the National Guard:

On Thursday (Jan. 21), the president issued a ‘Memorandum to Extend Federal Support to Governors’ Use of the National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and Other Assistance Provided to States.’ The memo indicates the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) will be responsible for 100 percent of costs to states associated with National Guard activities. 

To view the memorandum, click here.

Buy American:

On Monday (January 25), Biden is expected to sign a ‘Buy American’ EO, directing agencies to strengthen their procurement requirements to support US businesses and workers.