President Biden issues federal masking mandate

January 20, 2021

Today, hours after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden issued a number of health care-related executive orders (EOs), including one that requires masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands, and by federal employees and contractors. He is also asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and CDC to engage with state, local, tribal, and territorial officials to implement masking, physical distancing, and other CDC public measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

President Biden signed an EO creating the position of COVID-19 Response Coordinator, who will report directly to the President and be responsible for coordinating all elements of the COVID-19 response across government, including managing efforts to produce, supply, and distribute personal protective equipment, vaccines, and tests. In addition, this EO restores the White House’s National Security Council directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense to focus on domestic and global biological threats, play a critical role in stopping the COVID-19 pandemic, and prevent future biological catastrophes.

President Biden also launched his “100 Days Masking Challenge,” asking the American people to do their part – their patriotic duty – and mask up for 100 days.

The Biden-Harris Administration took other first-day actions including:

  • Re-engaging with the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement
  • Preserving and fortifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
  • Instructing federal agencies to prioritize racial equity and review policies that reinforce systemic racism
  • Prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Reversing President Trump’s EO excluding undocumented immigrants from the Census
  • Rescinding the immigration ban on Muslim countries

These executive orders and other actions are first steps on issues critical to improving the health of the nation. In the days and weeks ahead, President Biden is expected to take additional actions on a number of issues including, but not limited to, COVID-19, the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Title X.


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