Biden coughs in speech as he tightens rules for travelers flying to US & warns Covid deaths may hit 500K next month

JOE Biden coughed his way through a speech as he tightened rules for travelers flying to the United States and warned that Covid deaths may hit 500,000 next month.

Biden spluttered as he began his press conference on Thursday afternoon about the Covid crisis.

"The death toll will likely top 500,000 next month," the president warned viewers.

He went on to extend his mask mandate to include interstate travel on planes, trains and buses.

Biden also confirmed that he would be signing an executive order affecting international travelers into the United States.

He insisted that everyone coming into the country would need to have a negative Covid test before boarding the plane and quarantine upon arrival.

The president did not say how long tourists would have to quarantine for.

The news comes just one day after America saw its second deadliest day yet on Wednesday with more than 4,000 coronavirus deaths.

The nation recorded 4,229 fatalities in 24 hours – the third time the daily Covid-19 death toll passed 4,000 – on the same day Biden was inaugurated at a scaled-down ceremony in Washington DC.

But as part of his first order of business and shortly after the Inauguration ceremony, Biden signed 17 executive orders – including mandatory face masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings.

He also signed an order for the development of a testing program for federal employees for COVID-19 -a first step to combat a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans.

As detailed in the executive order, employees, contractors and others on federal property should "wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines".

President Biden also told agencies to "immediately take action… to require compliance with CDC guidelines" and for employees to wear masks and engage in social distancing.

It came as part as of his $1.9 trillion Covid action plan, in which Biden has pledged to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office.

During that time frame, he also called on all Americans to wear masks.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the new administration planned "to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19."

And as part of that plan, Biden told Dr Anthony Fauci that the US would remain in the World Health Organization – and continue with its financial commitments as the world's biggest donor.

Mr Biden decided to cancel Donald Trump's withdrawal of support from the UN agency.

The former president accused it of not working hard enough to warn the world of Covid-19 when it first emerged in Wuhan, China.

Dr Fauci told WHO officials at a virtual meeting at 4.10am on Thursday that he had been told by the new administration the US would continue with commitments.

The US gives $237million a year in fees and an additional $635million for special projects between 2018 and 2019.

The infectious diseases expert also confirmed the US will join Covax, the 92-nation collaboration seeking to deploy vaccines around the world.

Speaking on Good Morning America on Thursday, Dr Fauci said of the decision: "When you're dealing with a global pandemic, you have to have an international connectivity.

"For us to not be in the WHO is very disconcerting. The official announcement that we’re re-joining and re-upping our financial commitment, it was really a very good day."

"The response I’m getting from my colleagues all over the world is very refreshing," he added.

Fauci is expected to meet with Biden later today, before the president gives an update on the national Covid response at 2pm from Washington

Biden's ambitious new spending bid comes at a critical time for the world’s largest economy.

So far the US has seen 406,162 deaths and and over 24.4 million positive cases of the virus.

America's death toll is the highest in the world despite the country accounting for less than five percent of the global population.


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