Biden to mandate mask-wearing on federal land in executive order

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President Biden was sworn into office Wednesday, and one of his first priorities will be to sign an executive order urging Americans to wear masks for 100 days and requiring them on federal property. 

His first executive order, the “100-day masking challenge,” will require masks and social distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal land and by federal employees and contractors, and on airlines, trains and transit systems traveling between states. 

While a president cannot tell state and local officials what to require, Biden’s order will urge states to enact their own mandates. Most states have already done so. 

During his inaugural address, the new commander in chief warned that the nation’s “darkest and most deadly” coronavirus pandemic days could be ahead of it. 

Another executive order Wednesday will create a White House COVID-19 response office, headed by Biden’s coronavirus czar Jeffrey Zients. 

Last month, Biden said the coronavirus pandemic would be “first priority, the second priority, and the third priority” of his White House. Last week, Biden unveiled his “bold” new vaccination plan to fix former President Trump’s “dismal failure,” he said.


The Trump administration had hoped to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of December, but as of Tuesday, 15,707,588 had received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, the federal government has distributed more than 31 million total doses of the jab. 

“Our plan is as clear as it is bold,” Biden declared last week. “Get more people vaccinated for free. Create more places for them to get vaccinated. Mobilize more medical teams to get the shots in people’s arms. Increase supply and get it out the door as soon as possible.”

“We will immediately work with states to open up vaccinations to more priority groups,” Biden said, noting that “the implementation has been too rigid and confusing.”

“If you were to ask most people today, they couldn’t tell you who exactly is getting vaccinated,” he continued. “What they do know is there’s tens of millions of doses vaccine sitting unused in freezers around the country, while people who want and need the vaccine can’t get it.”


He vowed to “fix the problem by encouraging states to allow more people to get vaccinated beyond health care workers and move through those groups as quickly as they think we can. That includes anyone 65 years or older, a population that has accounted for over 80% of the deaths to date.”

More than 400,000 have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. The seven-day average is just under 3,000 deaths per day. 

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