President Biden launched his plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic yesterday. Here’s a look at Biden’s executive orders related to the pandemic . . .
Mask requirements: Among his first executive orders, Biden mandated mask wearing on federal property, by federal employees and contractors. The President is also starting a “100 days masking challenge.” He is urging Americans to wear masks and for state and local officials to implement public measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Rejoining the World Health Organization: Biden reversed a move by the Trump administration to withdraw from the WHO, the United Nations global health agency. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., plans to participate in a WHO executive board meeting today.
Covid coordinator: Biden signed an executive order to bring back a National Security Council position — the director for global health security and biodefense. This position had been created by the Obama administration after the 2014 Ebola epidemic but was scrapped by the Trump administration.
Using the Defense Production Act: Biden is using executive orders to ramp up the manufacture of coronavirus test kits, vaccines and supplies. His team identified 12 “immediate supply shortfalls” critical to the pandemic response. These include N95 surgical masks and isolation gowns.
The Big News
Treat the Virus Like an Enemy
Epidemiologists have advice for President Biden. In order to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days, they advise, here’s how the government should think. Do not treat the coronavirus like the seasonal flu. Treat the virus as if it was an act of bioterrorism.
A California Variant?
Why is California being hit so hard by the virus? Professor William Haseltine has done pioneering work on infectious diseases and the human genome. He and many other scientists think the extraordinary infection rates in California are the result of an undiscovered virus variant. And one that is highly contagious.
Record Covid Deaths Around Globe
The global death toll from Covid-19 hit a record in the last week. The WHO said 93,000 people died in the week ending Jan. 17, up 9% from the previous week. The Americas fared the worst, with a 15% rise in deaths in the past week. Led by the U.S., where over 400,000 have died, the Americas account for close to half the total number of people lost to the virus since the start of the pandemic.
U.S. to Join Covax
The Biden administration will join global efforts to make Covid-19 vaccines and drugs available globally. This reverses the position of Donald Trump. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that the U.S. would join WHO’s Covax program to “advance multilateral efforts” to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Amazon Offers to Aid Vaccine Effort
Amazon shared a letter it had sent to President Biden. In the letter, Amazon executive Dave Clark wrote that Amazon was willing to share its “operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise” to help the new administration reach its goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans within Biden’s first 100 days in office.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Thursday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 96,943,570 Infected Worldwide
- 2,077,096 Deaths
- 24,438,938 Infected in the U.S.
- 406,162 Deaths in the U.S.
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Stocks were on the move again yesterday. The S&P 500 added 1.4% to end at 3,851. The Nasdaq rallied almost 2%. It was propelled higher by a strong day for big tech as Netflix rallied 16% after strong fourth-quarter earnings. Small caps were more muted as the Russell 2000 rose by only 0.42%.
Market attention right now is focused on whether Biden can get the $1.9 trillion stimulus package through Congress and what other spending is coming.
This comes after Janet Yellen said it was time to “think big.” Her logic is that the pandemic has knocked the economy to its knees. And interest rates are low, so spending is relatively “cheap.”The stock market right now is trading on enormous amounts of fiscal support. And confidence in the Fed not pulling away the punch bowl before we are all totally “drunk”.
The dollar is weak again today. That keeps a strong bid for both commodities and global stocks . . . as well as tech stocks.
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Yours in Health & Wealth,