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Internists Applaud Swift Action on COVID-19 by Biden Administration

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 — The American College of Physicians (ACP) applauds the Biden administration’s swift, initial actions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and says they will help to slow the spread of infections. This is in reaction to a series of executive orders and directives issued since President Biden took office.

“We are a year into our fight against COVID-19 in this country. With infections and deaths continuing to increase, it is urgent that the federal government develop and implement a comprehensive strategic to support and protect physicians, other health workers and our patients from this terrible disease,” said Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, president, ACP. “The executive actions that President Biden has signed, and the release of a National Strategy on the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, can help bring this pandemic under control.”

Yesterday, ACP expressed its support for several executive orders, statements and proclamations on COVID-19 and other issues.

On January 21, President Biden announced several additional executive orders and other actions that will further advance policies to end the COVID-19 pandemic supported by ACP, including:

  • Executive Order on Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatments for COVID-19. ACP supports prioritizing the high-risk populations in long-term care facilities.  ACP strongly supports efforts to develop new therapies for COVID-19 and future public health threats, as well as, actions to ensure treatments for COVID-19 are available and affordable for all those who need them.
  • Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. This order aligns with ACP’s recommendations on mask-wearing in community settings, recommending that the federal government require that masks be worn on all public transportation.
  • Executive Order on a Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain. In order to effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic and slow the spread of infections, we need adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical materials. ACP repeatedly called on the previous administration to invoke the Defense Production Act and address shortages. 
  • Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety. ACP has called for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue mask guidance for high-risk work places so that workers can know that they are protected, while also enforcing the requirements, consistent with this executive order.
  • Executive Order on Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color. This executive order will advance ACP’s call for equitable support for those communities, and for addressing the social drivers of health that can exacerbate COVID-19.
  • Executive Order on Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats. ACP supports investing in the nation’s public health infrastructure and supports the concept of a board that would oversee the implementation of a clear, unified approach to testing and a public health workforce strategy that is coordinated and effective.
  • Memorandum to Extend Federal Support to Governors’ Use of the National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and Other Assistance Provided to States. Because of the magnitude of the threat we face from COVID-19, we need to ensure we are devoting adequate resources. ACP supports deploying additional resources to assist in our efforts to fight COVID-19, and increase reimbursement and assistance to states, to better equips us to respond to the threat.
  • Executive Order on Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High-Consequence Public Health Threats. Improving public health data infrastructure capabilities to better gather, share, and publish information about COVID-19, and potential future pandemics, was a priority recommendation provided by ACP to the new administration. ACP supports efforts outlined in this order to use evidence-based approaches to address the COVID-19 pandemic through enhanced data collection and sharing, with appropriate privacy and security protections, as well as efforts to research and provide recommendations to innovate and improve the effectiveness and interoperability of public health data systems supporting the response to COVID-19 and future public health threats. 
  • National Security Directive on United States Global Leadership to Strengthen the International COVID-19 Response and to Advance Global Health Security and Biological Preparedness. Combatting the pandemic requires a global effort and strengthening US engagement and leadership on a global level is essential.

ACP also welcomed the release of the National Strategy on the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, and plans to provide the administration with feedback on the strategy outlined and additional steps that should be considered.

“While these are promising initial steps for President Biden and his administration, there is still so much that needs to be done to help slow the spread of COVID-19 infections,” concluded Dr. Fincher. “We need to speed up the distribution of vaccines, increase mask-wearing by the public, and make sure that our physicians and other health care workers have sufficient personal protective equipment to continue caring for patients. We look forward to working with the administration as we all come together to tackle and control the pandemic.”

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About the American College of Physicians

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 163,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Contact: Jacquelyn Blaser, (202) 261-4572,  jblaser@acponline.org