These Are Joe Biden's First Executive Actions to Combat COVID

Joe Biden will oversee a "historic number of actions" in the hours after being sworn in as president as he attempts to change the course of the COVID pandemic, his transition team has said.

A fact sheet released ahead of the inauguration on Wednesday has outlined how the new commander-in-chief will use policy shifts, directives and executive orders to fight a virus now linked to more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S.

Biden and his vice president Kamala Harris have pledged to overturn decisions made by Donald Trump's administration, including reversing the so-called "Muslim ban," halting border wall construction and rejoining the Paris agreement on climate change.

On COVID, Biden will launch a scheme known as the 100 Days Masking Challenge, which will call on U.S. residents to do their "patriotic duty" and wear a face covering for that period of time in order to limit disease transmission.

An executive order will be signed that will mandate masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands and by federal employees and contractors.

Biden's administration will also ask health authorities to engage with officials across the country, including state, local, Tribal and territorial leaders, to "implement a strategy of masking, physical distancing and other CDC public safety measures."

In another significant departure from the Trump era, Biden will halt America's withdrawal from the World Health Organization, which the previous administration had accused of being under the "total control" of China and failing to reform.

Trump announced last May that the U.S. would be "terminating our relationship with the WHO and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving, urgent, global public health needs." The American Medical Association said the decision would "put the health of our country at grave risk."

The Biden-Harris transition team said it would reaffirm its links to the organization and Dr. Anthony Fauci would take part in an WHO executive meeting on Thursday. The U.S. would instead seek to "strengthen and reform the organization" from the inside, the team added.

Biden will also sign an executive order to create a position of COVID response coordinator, who will report directly to the president and be responsible for "coordinating all elements of the COVID-19 response across government."

This order will restore the National Security Council's Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was disbanded in 2018. The agency will play a role in fighting the COVID pandemic while working to prevent "future biological catastrophes."

There were 23,923,938 COVID cases in the U.S on Tuesday, with 123,820 people in hospital, according to the COVID Tracking Project. More than 400,000 people in the U.S. have died since the start of the outbreak, according to Johns Hopkins University. The vaccine rollout continues across the country, but this week several cities and counties reported shortages of the jab.

President-elect Joe Biden
Joe Biden holds his face mask as he sets out his plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic on January 15 in Wilmington, Delaware. He will change the course of the COVID pandemic, his transition team has said. Alex Wong/Getty