President Biden prepared to spend his first full day in the White House addressing a confluence of crises, with the pandemic at the top of that list.
The Biden team said it had identified 12 “immediate supply shortfalls” in the Trump administration’s pandemic response plans, which Mr. Biden is expected to address later on Thursday when he speaks about his approach to confronting the crisis.
Some of Mr. Biden’s advisers said they were stunned by the vaccination plan — or the lack of one — that it inherited from the Trump administration, and said the Trump team failed to share crucial information about supplies and vaccine availability.
“What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Jeff Zients, the new White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said.
Mr. Biden will participate Thursday morning in the Virtual Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. Because of the pandemic, he and Vice President Kamala Harris will watch the service from the White House Blue Room, officials said. After that, they are scheduled to receive the daily intelligence brief prepared for the president, and then they will quickly turn to the virus, with Mr. Biden speaking about the pandemic and signing related executive orders in the afternoon.
Mr. Biden signed other executive orders on Wednesday that are designed to undo signature policy initiatives of the Trump administration, including ordering officials to work to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has protected hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country as young children from deportation. He also recommitted the United States to the Paris climate agreement, the international accord designed to avert catastrophic global warming.
Another order he signed on Wednesday requires masks to be worn on all federal property and by all federal employees. He urged all Americans to take this most basic of precautions for 100 days.
When Mr. Biden speaks about his administration’s plan to confront the virus on Thursday, he will outline a national strategy that promises to harness the broad powers of the federal government, including the aggressive use of executive authority to protect workers, advance racial equity in the pandemic response and ramp up the manufacturing of test kits, vaccines and supplies.
The “National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” previewed Wednesday evening by Mr. Biden’s advisers, outlines the kind of muscular and highly coordinated federal response that Democrats have long demanded and that Mr. Trump rejected, insisting that state governments take the lead.
The 12 supply shortfalls identified by the Biden team include N95 surgical masks and isolation gowns, swabs, reagents and pipettes used in testing — deficiencies that have dogged the nation for nearly a year. Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary, told reporters on Wednesday evening that Mr. Biden “absolutely remains committed” to invoking the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law, to bolster supplies.
Mr. Biden also intends to make expansive use of his authority to sign a dozen executive orders or actions related to Covid-19 — including one requiring mask-wearing “in airports, on certain modes of public transportation, including many trains, airplanes, maritime vessels, and intercity buses,” according to a fact sheet issued by his administration.
Inheriting an economy battered by the pandemic, the Biden administration is also moving to extend a federal moratorium on evictions and has asked agencies to prolong a moratorium on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages. Mr. Biden will need the cooperation of Congress, where Democrats now control both chambers, to push through a $1.9 trillion rescue package.
But untangling and speeding up the distribution of vaccines — perhaps the most pressing challenge for the Biden administration that is also the most promising path forward — will be a desperate race against time, as states across the country including New York and California have warned that they could run out of doses as early as this weekend.
The pandemic has already claimed 406,000 American lives, and experts warn that 100,000 more could die in the next month.