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Biden signs executive order authorizing broader use of Defense Production Act to target COVID-19

"We didn't get into this mess overnight, and it's going to take months to turn it around," President Joe Biden.

Updated: January 21, 2021 - 5:30pm

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Despite the U.S. last week averaged more than 912,000 daily vaccinations against COVIOD-19, President Biden said Thursday that "the rollout has been a dismal failure so far."

"Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better. We didn't get into this mess overnight and it's going to take months to turn it around," Biden said in an address from the White House.

After his speech, in which he took just one question from the press, Biden signed several executive orders, including one to broaden the use of the Defense Production Act and other powers to speed up manufacturing of vaccines and other supplies to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

Biden also released a national strategy to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the Trump administration had failed to create a comprehensive plan.

Biden has pledged to deliver 100 million vaccinations in 100 days, or 1 million a day. But Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday that "In the last week, an average of 912,497 doses per day were administered."

After the signing ceremony, an Associated Press reporter asked Biden if the target should be set higher than 1 million a day, noting "that's basically where the U.S. is right now."

"When I announced it you all said it's not possible," Biden said gruffly, blasting the media. "C'mon, give me a break, man."

With Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on President Trump's White House Coronavirus Task Force, Biden signed 10 executive orders intended to ramp up the national COVID-19 strategy to increase vaccinations, move toward reopening schools and businesses, and urge the use of masks nationwide -- including a requirement that Americans mask up for air travel. Airlines, though, already require masks.

“We need to ask average Americans to do their part,” said Jeff Zients, the White House official directing the national response. “Defeating the virus requires a coordinated nationwide effort.”

Several news outlets have reported that Trump's operation was a disaster, citing Biden officials. "Biden inheriting nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan and must start 'from scratch,' sources say," said a CNN report.

"Newly sworn in President Joe Biden and his advisers are inheriting no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to speak of from the Trump administration, sources tell CNN, posing a significant challenge for the new White House," said the story.

"The Biden administration has promised to try to turn the Covid-19 pandemic around and drastically speed up the pace of vaccinating Americans against the virus.

"But in the immediate hours following Biden being sworn into office on Wednesday, sources with direct knowledge of the new administration's Covid-related work told CNN one of the biggest shocks that the Biden team had to digest during the transition period was what they saw as a complete lack of a vaccine distribution strategy under former President Donald Trump, even weeks after multiple vaccines were approved for use in the United States."

Said Biden: “Despite the best intentions we’re going to face setbacks. But he added: “To a nation waiting for action, let me be clear on this point: Help is on the way.”

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