Within hours of the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the new administration began issuing marching orders to rein in the COVID-19 pandemic, including an executive order (EO) to mandate face coverings on all Federal property, and other directives to ensure that its national strategy for the COVID-19 response has a data-driven approach.

The administration’s Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High Consequence Public Health Threats order covers numerous tactics to quell the pandemic, and wraps into them mandates for Federal agencies in collecting, sharing, and analyzing data related to COVID-19 response and recovery.

“The Federal government will track a range of performance measures and data including cases, testing, vaccinations, and hospital admissions, and will make real-time information readily available to the public and to policymakers at the Federal, state, and local level,” the administration said in National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness document released today.

As part of that strategy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will establish a dashboard to track COVID-19 cases at the county level so citizens can better understand transmission levels within their communities. Further, the CDC will track distribution and vaccination progress,. and work with state and local governments on their efforts.

“The Administration, through [the Department of Health and Human Services] and other Federal partners, will rely on data to drive decision-making and the national vaccinations program,” according to the strategy document.

Masks on Federal Property

The mask mandate on Federal property applies to on-duty or on-site Federal employees; on-site Federal contractors; and all persons in Federal buildings or on Federal lands.

The EO also requires compliance with CDC guidelines on maintaining physical distance and other public health measures. The Directors of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM), as well as the head of the General Services Administration (GSA), will be tasked with issuing guidance for implementation of this mandate.

“Wearing masks isn’t a partisan issue — it’s a patriotic act that can save countless lives. That’s why I signed an executive order today issuing a mask mandate on federal property. It’s time to mask up, America,” President Biden wrote in a tweet on Jan. 20.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.