Since being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden has taken at least 28 executive actions to tackle the COVID-19 crisis in the country. Two of these executive orders are strictly focused on implementing federal face mask mandates. Are you wondering what this means for you? Well, you're in luck — this article will tell you everything you need to know!
Swift Action to Stop the COVID-19 Pandemic
Within one day of becoming the U.S. President, Joe Biden signed two executive orders mandating that people wear face masks on lands and in buildings controlled by the federal government as well as in major public transportation modes such as planes, buses, and trains.
These two executive orders are part of Biden's 100-day plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 U.S. citizens. Worldwide, this health crisis has caused over 2 million deaths since it began.
During a recent speech, the 46th U.S. President "challenged" all Americans to wear face mask protection for the next 99 days. Scientific evidence overwhelmingly shows that widespread mask usage would not only slow the spread of COVID-19 but save countless lives. In the same speech, Biden did grimly mention that the current U.S. coronavirus death still stands higher than that from World War II and that the crisis will "get worse before it gets better."
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Is Also a Top Priority
During his first full day in office, President Biden also focused on a national effort to ramp up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccination supplies. When speaking about his overall strategy, he made it no secret that science informs every step of the plan: "Our national strategy is comprehensive, it's based on science, not politics. It's based on truth, not denial, and it's detailed."
The 198-page plan, which can be found at WhiteHouse.gov, aims to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots. Since current vaccines in circulation require two doses, that would be enough to cover 50 million Americans in Biden's first 100 days in office.
This ambitious objective as well as the rest of Biden's COVID-19 response plan were developed with detailed input from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.'s top infectious disease expert, and several other scientific experts.
What the Two Face Mask Executive Orders Entail
Biden's first face mask executive order mandates for all people on federal properties to don the coronavirus protection. This order affects federal buildings such as the U.S. Capitol, federal courthouses, federal agencies, post offices, national parks, and federal monuments across the country. Federal employees and contractors that must abide by this executive order include members of the armed forces and the National Guard.
While Biden can't enforce a nationwide mask mandate, Jeff Zients, his COVID-19 response coordinator, made it known that they are working on other measures: "... The president will call on governors, public health officials, mayors, business leaders, and others to implement masking, physical distancing, and other public measures to control COVID-19."
Biden's second face mask executive order mandates that anyone at an airport or on planes, trains, buses, or even ferries must wear the coronavirus protection. This order actually came as a relief to many U.S. airline officials and flight attendants — for months, these workers have had to contend with unruly passengers who refused to wear face masks while onboard airplanes. Sara Nelson, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA president, said that this mask mandate will "provide much-needed back up for Flight Attendants and aviation workers on the frontlines."
The Social Effects of the Face Mask Mandates
Both of Biden's face mask executive orders direct federal agencies to take "immediate action." But details on how and when to implement these mandates, as well as the potential penalties for violation, were not covered in the orders. Agency officials must give Zients an update on their progress in one week.
Members of the Biden administration and scientific experts believe that these executive orders will have a positive social effect on how the public perceives face masks: "By reducing the number of leaders and people in authority refusing to wear masks, you reduce the feeling that this is acceptable behavior," explained Matt Seeger, a Wayne State University dean who works closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Wear Your Face Mask — COVID-19 Isn't Gone Yet
President Biden has vowed to be transparent about America's progress in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, he has stated that it will take quite a few months before the majority of U.S. citizens receive vaccinations for this health crisis. He also said that the death toll is likely to pass 500,000 in February.
"The experts say by wearing a mask from now until April, we’d save more than 50,000 lives going forward," Biden said in a recent speech. "Fifty thousand lives. So I’m asking every American to mask up for the next 100 days."
Please continue to wear your face mask protection when you venture out into public spaces. Also, keep social distancing and sanitizing your hands frequently. While there is hope that this pandemic will soon be over, it will take an effort from each and every one of us to truly end this crisis.
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