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Biden aims to address ‘immediate supply shortfalls’ left behind by Trump.

President Biden prepared to spend his first full day in the White House addressing a confluence of crises, with the pandemic at the top of that list.

The Biden team said it had identified 12 “immediate supply shortfalls” in the Trump administration’s pandemic response plans, which Mr. Biden is expected to address later on Thursday when he speaks about his approach to confronting the crisis.

Some of Mr. Biden’s advisers said they were stunned by the vaccination plan — or the lack of one — that it inherited from the Trump administration, and said the Trump team failed to share crucial information about supplies and vaccine availability.

“What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Jeff Zients, the new White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said.

Mr. Biden will participate Thursday morning in the Virtual Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. Because of the pandemic, he and Vice President Kamala Harris will watch the service from the White House Blue Room, officials said. After that, they are scheduled to receive the daily intelligence briefing prepared for the president, and then they will quickly turn to the virus, with Mr. Biden speaking about the pandemic and signing about a dozen related executive orders in the afternoon, including on mask wearing and more.

Local officials have expressed a hope that the Biden administration would step up vaccine production to make second doses available for the expanded pool of eligible people. Production of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines authorized in the United States are running flat out, and it is not clear whether the administration could significantly expand the overall supply any time soon.

Though Mr. Biden has indicated his administration would release more doses as they became available and keep fewer in reserve, he said on Friday that he would not change the recommended timing for second doses: 21 days after the first dose for Pfizer’s vaccine, and 28 days for Moderna’s.“We believe it’s critical that everyone should get two doses within the F.D.A.-recommended time frame,” Mr. Biden said while discussing his vaccine distribution plans.

The 12 supply shortfalls identified by the Biden team include N95 surgical masks and isolation gowns, swabs, reagents and pipettes used in testing — deficiencies that have dogged the nation for nearly a year. Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary, told reporters on Wednesday evening that Mr. Biden “absolutely remains committed” to invoking the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law, to bolster supplies.

Mr. Biden also signed executive orders on Wednesday that were designed to undo signature policy initiatives of the Trump administration, including ordering officials to work to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has protected hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country as young children from deportation. He also recommitted the United States to the Paris climate agreement, the international accord designed to avert catastrophic global warming.

Another order he signed on Wednesday requires masks to be worn on all federal property and by all federal employees. He urged all Americans to take this most basic of precautions for 100 days.

When Mr. Biden speaks about his administration’s plan to confront the virus on Thursday, he will outline a national strategy that promises to harness the broad powers of the federal government, including the aggressive use of executive authority to protect workers, advance racial equity in the pandemic response and ramp up the manufacturing of test kits, vaccines and supplies.

The “National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” previewed Wednesday evening by Mr. Biden’s advisers, outlines the kind of muscular and highly coordinated federal response that Democrats have long demanded and that Mr. Trump rejected, insisting that state governments take the lead.

Inheriting an economy battered by the pandemic, the Biden administration is also moving to extend a federal moratorium on evictions and has asked agencies to prolong a moratorium on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages. Mr. Biden will need the cooperation of Congress, where Democrats now control both chambers, to push through a $1.9 trillion rescue package.

Source : New York Times

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