Biden Administration Response to COVID-19
Published: March 31, 2021
Administration TransitionCoronavirus (COVID-19) PandemicDisease TrackingEconomic StimulusForecasts and SpendingGovernment PerformanceHealth CareHealth ServicesMedical & Scientific EquipmentPolicy and LegislationPresident TrumpProfessional ServicesPublic Private PartnershipsPublic SectorSocial ServicesWHITE HOUSE OFFICE (EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT)
The Biden administration is combatting COVID-19 with heavy use of executive orders, significant stimulus funding, and an ambitious nationwide vaccination plan.
As President Biden approaches his first 100 days in office, his response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been markedly different from that of his predecessor. Whereas President Trump left many decisions up to the states, Biden has positioned the federal government squarely at the front of the battle against COVID-19. This strategy includes tapping the military to staff mass-vaccination centers and working with state and local officials to accelerate the pace of vaccinations. It also includes a number of executive orders signed within the first 72 hours of his presidency, one of which requires masks on buses, planes, and federal property:
- Create position of COVID-19 response coordinator (Jan. 20)
- Require masks/distancing on all federal property and by federal workers (Jan. 20)
- Fill supply shortfalls in fight vs. COVID-19 with Defense Production Act, other measures (Jan. 21)
- Establish “COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board,” expand testing (Jan. 21)
- Bolster access to COVID-19 treatments and clinical care (Jan. 21)
- Improve collection/analysis of COVID-related data (Jan. 21)
- Provide guidance on safely reopening schools (Jan. 21)
- OSHA guidance for keeping workers safe from COVID-19 (Jan. 21)
- Require face masks at airports, other modes of transportation (Jan. 21)
- Establish a “COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force” (Jan. 21)
- Ask agencies to boost food aid, improve delivery of stimulus checks (Jan. 22)
This list only includes executive orders related to COVID-19 that were signed within Biden’s first three days in office. For a comprehensive list of the president’s key executive actions so far, including other subjects and types of action, click here.
Biden’s use of executive orders early on in his presidency is telling. It signals that he will not only give the federal government a more prominent role in combatting COVID-19 but in many other areas as well.
The administration’s COVID-19 response also includes the massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law on March 11. Policy addressing COVID-19 makes up $123 billion of the bill’s spending, broken down into four policy initiatives:
- $50 billion for testing and contact tracing
- $47 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund, including funeral expenses related to COVID-19
- $16 billion for vaccine distribution, confidence, and supply chains
- $10 billion for the Defense Production Act to buy and distribute medical supplies
Testing and contact tracing make up the largest share of this policy section and represent roughly 7% of the entire stimulus spending. The second-largest share is designated for the Disaster Relief Fund to cover costs related to major disaster declarations, including funeral expenses related to COVID-19. Vaccine distribution and the distribution of other medical supplies also fall into this section.
Another key component of Biden’s COVID-19 response is an ambitious vaccination plan. Recently, the president called on states to expand eligibility to all U.S. adults by May 1. During the presidential transition, Biden set a goal of administering 100 million doses by the end of his first 100 days, a goal which he has already surpassed. As of March 31 – day 71 of the Biden administration – 131.9 million doses have been administered. In recent weeks, the pace of vaccinations has also increased to an average of 1.6 million doses per day. Additionally, the weekly vaccine supply to states and pharmacies has increased significantly.
Some of this progress has built on Trump’s efforts with Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership he established to create and begin distributing vaccine doses. The Moderna vaccine was partly developed under this program. States are also getting more vaccine doses because of manufacturing contracts signed by the Trump administration. While the Biden administration has been quick to criticize its predecessors, former Trump administration officials believe they are not being given enough credit for their efforts. “They like to criticize our strategy, but boy are they embracing it,” one former senior official said.
Regardless of political differences, actions taken by the Biden administration to combat COVID-19 have been swift and have given more authority to the federal government. With under 30 days left until Biden’s 100th day in office milestone, an update to the president’s COVID-19 response can be expected soon.
For the latest research and analysis on the COVID-19 pandemic, check out GovWin’s Coronavirus Government Response Resource Center. And, for the latest on the Biden administration, check out the Administration Transition Resource Center.