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Although his campaign repeatedly emphasized themes of positivity and the rebirth of America, President Joe Biden’s remarks regarding the coronavirus pandemic struck a decidedly hopeless tone on Friday, when he declared that, “There is nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.”
Biden made the remarks during the course of announcing executive orders designed to cushion the economic blow of lockdowns. Biden’s remarks came less than 48 hours after he signed an executive order mandating mask usage on federal property and challenged Americans to wear a mask for 100 days, proclaiming that such a measure would save 50,000 lives.
Biden also stated that, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country is likely to pass 500,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 at some point in February.
The current trend of new positive tests continues to decline and is expected to decline further as the vaccines become more widely distributed to the public. Fauci, however, has sought to dampen enthusiasm regarding the improving test numbers, noting that it is possible that there is a lag in reporting due to the holidays, and that the current trend may not be “real.”
The executive orders signed by Biden expanded access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a government program that provides assistance to low-income families for the purchase of food products. Additionally, Biden asked the Department of Labor to promulgate rules that would allow employees to continue to receive unemployment benefits if they turn down available work due to the risks of the novel coronavirus.
Additionally, although it would seem to have nothing whatsoever to do with the pandemic, Biden signed an executive order that would require federal contractors to offer at least $15 an hour as their minimum wage. He further offered a benefit for labor unions that was also totally unconnected with the pandemic by revoking a Trump executive order that made it more difficult for federal employees to collectively bargain against the taxpayers.