WASHINGTON — In his first full day in office, President Joe Biden has already signed a slew of executive orders reversing several Trump administration policies.
During a White House COVID-19 news briefing Thursday, President Biden indicated Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases, played a key role in developing the administration’s virus response plan. Fauci and White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki outlined new orders aimed toward wiping out the coronavirus pandemic.
The doctor made clear some of the ways in which the incoming administration would differ from the previous one. Among those is how new leadership will publicly address the COVID-19 response.
“One of the new things about this administration is, if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess,” Fauci said. “Just say you don’t know the answer.”
The briefing came just one day after the inauguration of President Biden. The newly-elected commander in chief got to work, signing 17 executive orders, memorandums and directives Wednesday.
He followed that with another 10 on Thursday.
President Biden unveils COVID-19 response
President Biden’s COVID-19 strategy, unveiled Thursday, focuses heavily on increasing vaccinations and testing across the country. Part of this includes his promise to administer 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days.
The president will also require masks on federal property and for those traveling by plane, ship, bus, train or other means of public transportation. Although several transportation companies already require masks, the order makes it a federal mandate — leaving no room for travelers to argue against the public safety measure.
Despite promises to get vaccinations in neighborhood pharmacies by the end of next month, Fauci said he wasn’t sure what the actual timeline will be.
“In the spirit of not guessing, I’m really not sure when that will be but we can get back to you on that,” Fauci told White House reporters.
Fauci looks ahead to ‘completely transparent’ transition
With that non-answer, Fauci emphasized President Biden’s commitment to establishing trust in his administration.
“One of the things that was very clear […] is that one of the things that we’re going to do is we’re going to be completely transparent, open and honest,” Fauci said. “If things go wrong, not point fingers but to correct them and to make everything we do be based on science and evidence.”
Fauci said that goal is different from the previous administration; he laughed about getting in trouble “sometimes” when he contradicted what then-President Donald Trump would say. However, the immunologist said he never said anything that he thought strayed from the truth — which is what often caused rifts between the previous leadership.
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