Biden unveils national COVID-19 strategy: masks, testing, accelerated vaccine rollout

President Joe Biden called for expanded COVID-19 testing, accelerated vaccine distribution and preparation for possible future pandemics. Biden called the COVID-19 response “a wartime undertaking.”
4:49 | 01/22/21

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Transcript for Biden unveils national COVID-19 strategy: masks, testing, accelerated vaccine rollout
Good evening and it's great to have you with us here on this Thursday night. President Biden's first full day in office and he is squarely focused tonight on this pandemic. We've now lost more Americans than we lost in World War II. In the last 24 hours, more than 4,200 lives lost. President Biden tonight saying, this is now a full-scale wartime plan. The president signing ten executive orders, a new national strategy after warning, quote, the toughest and deadliest period may still lie ahead. Tonight, a mask mandate on federal property and for interstate travel. Masks on planes and trains. Using the defense production act to help get the vaccine out. 100 new federal mass vaccination sites. Dr. Anthony Fauci tonight on what Americans should now expect and his very candid words about these past few months. The pressure felt in speaking out about the virus to help keep the American people safe. And tonight, growing concerns over the new variants being seen here in the U.S. And the thousands of Americans who had covid months ago and still have crippling symptoms. They are being called the long haulers. We will carefully get to it all tonight. And we begin here with our senior white house correspondent Mary Bruce leading us off. Reporter: On his first full day in office, Joe Biden launching what he calls a full-scale wartime effort to stop the spread of covid and ramp up vaccinations. 400,000 Americans have died. That's more than have died in all of World War II. 400,000. This is a wartime undertaking. Reporter: Biden today signing ten executive orders. This executive order I'm signing is strengthening the supply chain. Reporter: Biden using the defense production act to order private companies to manufacture supplies like specialized syringes that allow health care workers to get an extra dose of vaccine out of pfizer vials, which would increase the number of available doses. We've already identified suppliers and we're working with them to move a plan forward. Reporter: He's also directing FEMA to establish 100 federal vaccination sites across the country in the next month and authorizing more medical professionals to administer the shots. But Biden was blunt -- this won't be like flipping a switch. The brutal truth is, it's going to take months before we can get the majority of Americans vaccinated. Reporter: To help control the spread of the virus, Biden signing a mask mandate for federal property and interstate travel. Mask up for the first 100 days, the next 99 days. Reporter: He's also issuing new travel restrictions. Everyone flying to the United States from another country will need to test before they get on that plane, before they depart and quarantine when they arrive in America. Reporter: Biden has promised 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days, growing irritated when asked if that's too little. Is that high enough? Shouldn't you set the bar higher -- where the U.S. Is right now? When I announced it, you all said it's not possible. Come on, give me a break, man. It's a good start. 100 million. Thank you. Reporter: Later in the briefing room, Dr. Anthony Fauci laying down this goal but with a big caveat. If we get 70% to 85% of the country vaccinated, lets say by the middle of the summer, I believe by the time we get to the fall, we will be approaching a degree of normality. Reporter: You're saying by the fall, the majority of Americans you think you will be No, I didn't say that. I said, if we get the majority of Americans, 70% to 85% vaccinated by then, we could have a degree of herd immunity that would get us back to normal. The concern I have and something we're working on is getting people who have vaccine hesitancy, who don't want to get vaccinated. Reporter: The white house now promising Fauci will be a regular in the briefing room. It was really something that you didn't feel that you could actually say something and there wouldn't be any repercussions about it. The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence -- what the science is, and know that's it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling. That's going to be a relief to hear for millions of Americans who just want the truth of this virus. Mary Bruce joins us live from the white house tonight. And Mary, president Biden's team, you have been reporting, said they were hallstrung because of difficulties coordinating with the trump administration. But we took note what we heard from president Biden's new covid coordinator today, saying, what we're inherents is so much worse than what we could imagined. Reporter: The Biden team was surprised by just a lack of an overall coordinated distribution plan, and supply issues today. Dr. Fauci made clear today it's not as if they're starting from scrap, but he also made clear that they're going to have to build up and boost their planning in a big way. David? All right, Mary Bruce leading us off from the white house tonight. Mary, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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