WASHINGTON | US President Joe Biden on Thursday promised a mobilization as “in times of war” in the face of COVID-19, announcing restrictions for travelers and denouncing the “terrible failure” of the distribution of vaccines.
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“Our strategy is based on science not politics, on truth not on denial”, launched Mr. Biden, eager, the day after taking office, to mark the contrast with Donald Trump at the time when the milestone of 400 000 deaths have just been crossed.
By signing a series of ten executive orders, he announced that anyone arriving by plane to the United States from another country should “be tested before leaving” and “observe quarantine on arrival”.
Asked whether his stated goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days was not lacking in ambition, he reacted strongly: “When I announced it, you all said that it would not be possible”, he said. “Come on, you’re not serious!” He added.
Committing to always give the floor to scientists, in particular to immunologist Anthony Fauci, he promised the Americans transparency on “the good and the bad news”, deeming it essential to “restore confidence” after the procrastination of his predecessor.
Support to WHO
The new US administration, taking the opposite view of Donald Trump, on Thursday thanked the World Health Organization for its leadership role in the planetary fight against the pandemic, and assured it of its financial support.
The United States, which announced its return to the WHO on Wednesday, “intends to meet its financial obligations to the organization,” said Dr Fauci.
The 46th American president also issued an executive order making it compulsory in federal buildings to wear the mask that his predecessor had only reluctantly donned.
In a serious inauguration speech, Joe Biden warned that the Covid-19 was about to experience its “hardest and deadliest phase” and called on the Americans to “leave politics aside” to face together this “dark winter”.
The 78-year-old veteran of American politics is now hoping to convince Republican congressmen to adopt a $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package intended to cushion the devastating effects of the pandemic on the economy.
Checks to families, funds to reopen schools, money to speed up tests and vaccines, aid for small businesses, or even reinforced food assistance: the measures must prevent the country from sinking further into the crisis.
Joe Biden, who at the same time initiated a 180-degree turn in migration policy, is also counting on these elected officials to adopt a vast reform in this area which was at the heart of the policy of his predecessor.
After seeing annulled on Wednesday a decree that prohibited nationals of predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, and having suspended the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico, he sent Congress a draft migration law.
This provides for a “path to naturalization” for foreigners in an irregular situation, according to varying conditions and durations. More than ten million undocumented migrants live in the United States and could be affected.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been a strong ally of Donald Trump until recently, has promised to work with Joe Biden “whenever possible.”
As of Wednesday evening, the upper house confirmed by a very large majority the appointment of the former number 2 of the CIA, Avril Haines, as director of intelligence.
Other confirmations could follow soon, including that of Antony Blinken at the head of American diplomacy.
At the diplomatic level precisely, some allies and partners of the United States have already welcomed the arrival of the new president, like Angela Merkel who assured Thursday she had a “much wider range of agreements” with Joe Biden than with Donald Trump, despite persistent points of friction, notably over the controversial Russian gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be the first foreign leader to speak with Joe Biden on Friday. The discussion should focus in particular on the Keystone pipeline project, supported by Canada, but which Joe Biden had promised to end during his campaign.