President Joe Biden is going to war with the coronavirus.

The new administration announced in “National Security Directive 1” on Thursday that it would “treat epidemic and pandemic preparedness, health security, and global health as top national security priorities.” The White House would also “work with other nations to combat COVID-19 and seek to create a world that is safe and secure from biological threats.”

The directive — titled “National Security Directive on United States Global Leadership to Strengthen the International COVID-19 Response and to Advance Global Health Security and Biological Preparedness” — was issued following other executive actions, signed by the president, ordering federal officials to begin fortifying their pandemic response efforts.

The orders create a COVID-19 response coordinator position and align pandemic response efforts with national security council.

A word to the president: You don’t get to good governance by executive order

Other presidential directives — which include executive orders, proclamations and memorandums — that were issued by the new president since his swearing in Wednesday focused on the climate crisis, immigration and addressed policy biases. Many also reverse former President Donald Trump’s directives from the last four years.

According to the Library of Congress, executives orders generally provide direction to government officials and agencies and have the weight of federal law behind them when a president cites which power they’re evoking. Memorandums don’t require the same legal citation. The Library of Congress said modern proclamations have been “ceremonial in nature” but used to do more “heavy lifting.”

Here are directives Biden has issues since taking office:

Executive orders

The board will coordinate pandemic diagnostic, screening and surveillance testing, provide recommendations to the president and identify barriers in testing access.

Biden tells health officials to “consider steps to ensure that clinical trials include populations that have been historically underrepresented in such trials.”

Among other restrictions, international travelers to the United States — when feasible —must provide proof of a recent negative coronavirus test and are recommended to participate in a period in self-quarantine after entering the country.

The order also aligns coronavirus response efforts with the National Security Council.

“I recognize that this pledge is part of a broader ethics in government plan designed to restore and maintain public trust in government, and I commit myself to conduct consistent with that plan,” states the pledge that appointees must sign.

“Discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation manifests differently for different individuals, and it often overlaps with other forms of prohibited discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of race or disability,” Biden wrote in the order. He said his administration will continue to enforce existing laws that “address overlapping forms of discrimination.”

Trump’s gone. What’s next for his religious supporters?

More specifically, the order provides a timeline for agency heads to report potential improvements, establishes an interagency “Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases” working group and reviews, pauses or revokes Trump administration actions like the Keystone XL Pipeline permit.

Biden says that “equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy” and by “closing racial gaps in wages, housing credit, lending opportunities, and access to higher education” would yield to trillions of dollars in additional gross domestic product in the next half decade.

President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.  | Evan Vucci, Associated Press


During his tenure in the White House, Trump had signed an executive order to end DACA, but the Supreme Court ruled last summer that the policy could remain in place.

In our opinion: Supreme Court decision on DACA could be short-lived if Congress doesn’t act

According to the memo, Liberians fled their country because of conflict and upheaval and were originally granted protected status in the United States in the early 1990s.

  • “Modernizing Regulatory Review” tells the director of the Office of Management and Budget to work with other departments and agency leaders to create “a set of recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review.”

“These recommendations should provide concrete suggestions on how the regulatory review process can promote public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations,” Biden wrote.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain also issued a memorandum to agency and department heads “freezing” regulatory action until it could be reviewed by the new administration.


  • Stop building the southern border wall

Moments after taking his oath as president of the United States, Biden signed a proclamation stopping the construction of the southern border wall.

“Like every nation, the United States has a right and a duty to secure its borders and protect its people against threats,” Biden wrote. “But building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution.”  

  • End the “Muslim Ban”

Another proclamation Biden signed revoked the former president’s directives banning individuals from Muslim and African countries from entering the United States. “We will not turn our backs on our values with discriminatory bans on entry into the United States,” the president wrote.

Biden undoes ban on travelers from some majority-Muslim countries
  • A National Day of Unity

Biden proclaimed Jan. 20, 2021 — his presidential Inauguration Day — a “National Day of Unity,” citing record numbers of Americans voting in the past election and that “democracy prevailed.”

“I pray this moment gives us the strength to rebuild this house of ours upon a rock that can never be washed away,” Biden wrote.

Letters to United Nations

  • Remain part of the World Health Organization

In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, the president said the U.S. intends to remain in the WHO, retracting Trump’s letter of withdraw last year.

“The United States will continue to be a full participant and a global leader in confronting such threats and advancing global health and health security,” Biden told Guterres.

  • Join the Paris Climate Agreement

Biden also told the UN that he accepts the Paris Agreement and “every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America.”

Trump had withdrawn from the 2015 international climate agreement during his first year in office, Voice Of America reported.