Biden says all air travellers to US must quarantine as he warns death toll could soon top 500,000 - latest news

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Rozina Sabur
·18 min read
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Joe Biden said passengers flying to the US will be required to quarantine upon arrival as he unveiled his administration's coronavirus response plan in a televised national address.

On his first full day in office, the US president announced a sweeping set of executive orders designed to combat the virus and warned the country's death toll could hit 500,000 by February.

"Let me be clear: things are going to continue to get worse before they get better," he said.

As part of the raft of measures put in place, Mr Biden announced that in addition to requiring a test before they fly, all air travellers to the US will need to quarantine upon arrival.

"In addition to wearing masks, 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," he said.

Up until now, quarantine was recommended for travellers but not mandatory.

As he unveiled his detailed national strategy to combat the pandemic, Mr Biden compared the country’s battle with the virus to a war, saying: "We’re in a national emergency and it’s time we treated it like one.”

Mr Biden also lashed out at the "dismal failure" of the Trump administration's vaccine rollout programme as he pledged to deliver 100 million shots within his first 100 days.

He also urged Americans to wear face masks for the next 99 days, saying the “patriotic act” could save as many as 50,000 lives by April.

As he signed a raft of executive orders relating to the pandemic, Mr Biden said his coronavirus strategy would be based on “truth not denial” and would place “science” at the core in a rebuke of Mr Trump.

08:03 PM

Biden: We'll fight vaccine disinformation

Mr Biden said his administration would work to combat vaccine hesitancy and disinformation.

He added that scientists and public health experts would play a greater role in the government's messaging around the pandemic to the public.

"Our plan is to restore public trust. We will make sure that scientists and public health experts will speak directly to you. That's why you're going to be hearing a lot more from Dr Fauci again," he said, referring to America's top infectious disease expert.

"We will level with you when we make a mistake. We’ll straight up say what happened," he added.

07:58 PM

Travellers to US must quarantine

Mr Biden said all international air passengers to the US will be required to receive a negative Covid-19 test before travelling and quarantine upon arrival.

07:55 PM

US death toll could top 500,000 next month

Mr Biden offered a sombre warning to the country, saying the country's huge death toll would likely top half a million in a matter of weeks.

"Let me be clear: things are going to continue to get worse before they get better," he said.

"We didn't get into this mess overnight, it's going to take months to turn this around."

Building on an executive order he signed last night, Mr Biden pleaded with Americans to wear masks for the next 99 days, calling it a "patriotic act". He added that as many as 50,000 lives will be saved by April as a result.

07:54 PM

'Dismal failure': Biden blasts vaccine rollout

Biden has begun speaking from the White House where he's unveiling a "national strategy" that solidifies plans he proposed during the election campaign.

Mr Biden began by slamming the "dismal failure" of the Trump administration's vaccine rollout programme.

"For the past year, we couldn't rely on the federal government to act with the urgency and focus and coordination we needed. And we have seen the tragic cost of that failure. 3,000 to 4,000 deaths per day."

Mr Biden vowed to deliver 100 million shots within his first 100 days in office. "We'll move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated," he said.

07:51 PM

Biden aims for co-ordinated federal response

The Biden administration is aiming at a coordinated federal coronavirus response to the 10-month pandemic, a stark contrast to Donald Trump, who left much of the pandemic planning to individual states.

Mr Biden said he will focus his efforts on boosting vaccines, increasing testing, reopening schools and addressing inequalities thrown up by the disease.

07:43 PM

Biden set to speak on Covid-19 pandemic

Welcome back to our live blog. We're expecting Joe Biden to deliver an address on the challenges facing the country during the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Biden is expected to unveil a comprehensive Covid-19 rescue plan as the country's high case load continues to raise alarm.

03:55 PM

Joe Biden's popularity in charts

As Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States he starts his term in office with a better standing both at home and abroad than his predecessor.

Though he may be inheriting a bitterly divided and tense country in the wake of the storming of the Capitol and Donald Trump's insistence that he won the 2020 election, President Biden can at least count on popularity as he faces the the difficult task of uniting all Americans behind his vision for the future.

However, while the early signs in the data are positive for the new president, the polarisation of American politics could be a thorn in his leadership and polling suggests he will not enjoy the same popularity as President Barack Obama.

READ MORE: Joe Biden's popularity in charts: How the new president compares to Donald Trump

03:34 PM

'Is Joe Biden really capable of uniting America?'

President Joe Biden will have to flesh out his vision of "unity" if he is to win back the Americans abandoned by his party, says Janet Daly.

The tone of Joe Biden's inaugural address could not have been more different from that of his predecessor whom he did not mention by name. But there are questions that will only be answered over the coming months and years about the real meaning of this message for his presidency and for his party. What kind of reconciliation is this to be? What sort of unity is he proposing?

READ MORE: Is Joe Biden really capable of uniting America?

03:06 PM

Joe Biden starts his presidency, in pictures

02:38 PM

'This historic inauguration was all about Kamala Harris'

As the first female Vice President of the United States was sworn in, this was a landmark moment, says Rosa Prince.

It should have been Joe Biden’s day but somehow the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States was as much about the woman who will serve alongside him.Kamala Harris's historic achievement in becoming the first woman and person of black or Asian descent to be sworn in as Vice President could not be overshadowed by Mr Biden’s stirring promise to unite a riven nation or even his predecessor Donald Trump’s sulky premature departure.

READ MORE: This historic inauguration was all about Kamala Harris

01:57 PM

How Joe Biden has swept away the signs of Donald Trump from the Oval Office

There is a new broom in the White House, and Joe Biden has wasted no time at all in sweeping away many of the signs that Donald Trump was ever there.

First he signed a clutch of executive orders to reverse many of his predecessor's decisions, then he turned his eye to the Oval Office.

Out went the artwork depicting America’s populist leaders and the military insignia that Mr Trump brought with him in 2016. In came the busts of civil rights activists and nods to the importance of unity and science.

READ MORE: Spot the difference: How Joe Biden has swept away the signs of Donald Trump from the Oval Office

01:19 PM

US will join vaccine scheme for world’s poorest countries as it builds bridges with WHO

Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser has announced that the United States will join Covax, a global initiative to combat “vaccine nationalism”, in a speech that marked a dramatic contrast from Donald Trump's sharp criticism of the World Health Organization, reports Sarah Newey.

Addressing the WHO’s executive board on Thursday via video link, Dr Anthony Fauci said that President Biden will “issue a directive later today” setting out plans to join WHO-led efforts to equitably distribute vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics across the globe.

This includes the ACT Accelerator - an umbrella scheme to develop and distribute medical tools - and the Covax facility, which aims to deliver vaccines to low and middle income countries and has an ambitious target of distributing two billion doses before the end of 2021.

READ MORE: US will join vaccine scheme for world’s poorest countries as it builds bridges with WHO

12:39 PM

'Come with me if you want to live': Arnold Schwarzenegger gets Covid-19 vaccine

11:58 AM

Obama, Bush and Clinton deliver special message to President Biden

11:31 AM

Merkel sees 'much broader scope' for cooperation with Biden

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that she saw a "much broader scope" for cooperation with Washington now that Joe Biden has replaced Donald Trump in the White House.

"There is a much broader scope of political accord with President Biden," Merkel told reporters, citing his return to the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization and his openness to migration as examples.

Her words echo the sentiments of President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said yesterday: "Despite the attempts to tear at America’s institutional fabric, election workers and governors, the judiciary and Congress, have proven strong. I am greatly relieved that, today, Joe Biden is being sworn in as president and will be moving into the White House. I know many people in Germany share this feeling."

10:59 AM

QAnon believers 'devastated' as Joe Biden's inauguration shoots down prophecies

QAnon believers were left in disarray Wednesday after the inauguration of President Joe Biden passed without the triumphant mass arrests of Democrats that their prophecies had predicted, report Laurence Dodds and Margi Murphy.

In online spaces popular with the cult-like conspiracist movement, users watched the ceremony proceed with mounting horror and disbelief as chances of the promised military coup withered in real time.

Some people angrily renounced QAnon's theories, declaring them "a total hoax", "one big delusion", "complete bulls---", or a psychological warfare operation designed to distract Mr Trump's supporters from enacting real change.

"It's over. We lost," said one.

READ MORE: QAnon believers 'devastated' as Joe Biden's inauguration shoots down prophecies

10:33 AM

How the world's newspapers reacted to Joe Biden's inauguration

The world heralded a new era for America on Thursday, with front pages hailing the transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden as a moment to heal a damaged democracy.

Leaders across the globe also welcomed the arrival of a new US President and the end of the often confrontational presidency of Mr Trump.

Here's a look at how the world reacted to the historic day.

READ MORE: How the world's newspapers reacted to Joe Biden's inauguration

10:11 AM

Beijing congratulates Biden and calls for a reset in relations

China on Wednesday congratulated US President Joe Biden in a series of messages and editorials that called for a reset in Sino-US ties after four tumultuous years of the Trump Administration, writes Erin Hale.

President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to Biden that emphasised China hoped the “two sides can develop a relationship featuring no conflict [and] no confrontation,” according to China Daily.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs followed suit after Biden’s inauguration as spokesowman Hua Chunying told reporters on Thursday she hoped an “angel of goodwill” would defeat evil forces between China and the US, CGTN reported.

She said China looked forward to the “new day” promised by Biden in his inaugural address.

The People's Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s Communist Party, on Thursday hailed the return of “rationality” to the White House and encouraged US policy makers to stop regarding China as “America’s nemesis.”

An opinion piece in the more fiery Global Times encouraged Biden to drop “Trumps’s toxic rhetoric toward China” and expressed concern that “Trump and conservative anti-China forces in the US want the new administration to inherit and continue the tough strategy toward China.”

Another Global Times piece also drew attention to the Trump White House's close relationship with Taiwan. The article expressed hoped Biden would limit its relationship after an exceptionally close four years between the US and the island democracy, which China regards as its territory.

09:47 AM

'Is Joe Biden woke'? Boris Johnson dodges question on US President

09:29 AM

'Big Tech braces for a Biden crackdown'

With a Congress under Democratic control, the incoming president has the muscle to take action, says Robin Pagnameta.

As Joe Biden took the oath of office before an unusually empty National Mall on Wednesday, across the continent in Silicon Valley the giants of Big Tech could be forgiven for looking on with mixed feelings.While most will be relieved that the shambolic four-year experiment with Trumpism is over, they are also keenly aware Biden is gearing up for a regulatory onslaught which could usher in the biggest changes in the industry’s history.

READ MORE: Big Tech braces for a Biden crackdown

09:16 AM

President Joe Biden in pictures

U.S. President Joe Biden swears in presidential appointees in a virtual ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House - Tom Brenner/Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden swears in presidential appointees in a virtual ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House - Tom Brenner/Reuters
President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden embrace before entering the White House - Alex Brandon/POOL/CNP/startraksphoto.com /STARTRAKS PHOTO 
President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden embrace before entering the White House - Alex Brandon/POOL/CNP/startraksphoto.com /STARTRAKS PHOTO
President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office - Evan Vucci /AP
President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office - Evan Vucci /AP
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House - Alex Brandon/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House - Alex Brandon/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock

09:02 AM

Trump spent his first night as a private citizen 'looking for lawyers for his impeachment trial'

Donald Trump spent his first night as a private citizen settling into his new home at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he has reportedly already begun preparing for his upcoming impeachment hearing, writes Josie Ensor.

Mr Trump’s final engagement in Washington DC as president was attending his farewell at Joint Base Andrews in DC, which was attended only by some 250 of his most loyal aides and supporters. Notably absent were close White House aides and his own vice president Mike Pence.

The former president then left for Florida as President Joe Biden was being sworn in, where he received a much warmer welcome.

READ MORE: Trump spent his first night as a private citizen 'looking for lawyers for his impeachment trial'

08:50 AM

Joe Biden’s presidency will push the news media’s claims of ‘impartiality’ to breaking point

Trump was a hate-figure for liberal American journalists, who duly stacked their decks against him. How can Americans trust the media now, asks Robin Aitken.

Though the demonstrators who stormed the building did more harm to their own cause than anything else, they were a graphic demonstration of the rifts which have opened up in American society. So, extending an olive branch to the millions of Americans who didn’t vote for him is the obvious, and right thing to do. Let’s hope Biden’s media allies get the message too, because the work of reconciliation is going to take years and it cannot be left solely to the politicians.

READ MORE: Joe Biden’s presidency will push the news media’s claims of ‘impartiality’ to breaking point

08:36 AM

Rupert Murdoch leads Fox News shake-up as network loses Trump supporters

Rupert Murdoch has carried out a shake-up of Fox News, with some senior staff fired, amid reports the cable TV network lost viewers following its decision to call the state of Arizona for Joe Biden on Election Day, reports Josie Ensor.

Bill Sammon, 62, Fox News Channel’s senior vice president who oversaw its “decision desk” on November 3, this week announced he would be taking retirement.

Some 20 other staff members have been fired, including Chris Stirewalt, the veteran politics editor who was the onscreen face of the Arizona call, which enraged the Trump campaign and altered the narrative of election night media coverage.

According to the Washington Post, Mr Murdoch told colleagues that the way Fox handled the call caused reputational damage and drove away some of Donald Trump's most ardent supporters.

READ MORE: Rupert Murdoch leads Fox News shake-up as network loses Trump supporters

08:20 AM

Amanda Gorman steals show at Biden's inauguration

America's first youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman captured the world's attention with her poem 'The Hill We Climb' inspiring message of hope for America's future.

In an interview with CNN after the event, she spoke of how the pro-Trump insurrection on January 6 inspired her to write a "message of hope, ingenuity and healing."

"Hope isn’t something that we ask of others, it’s something that we have to demand from ourselves,” she said.

"I felt like that was the type of poem I needed to write, and I felt like that was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear."

08:07 AM

Lady Gaga sings US National Anthem at Joe Biden's inauguration

Lady Gaga belted out her rendition of the US National Anthem on Wednesday as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated in Washington DC.

The pop queen delivered a powerful performance as Mr Biden, Ms Harris, and dignitaries looked on, wearing a Schiaparelli Haute Couture gown.

Lady Gaga, who also wore a golden dove pin, campaigned for Mr Biden in 2020.

07:53 AM

Harris praises 'American aspiration', lists civil rights victories

Kamala Harris praised "American aspiration" as she delivered a speech during the Celebrating America TV special.

She said: "In many ways this moment embodies our character as a nation. It demonstrates who we are. Even in dark times, we not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up. This is American aspiration."

Ms Harris listed civil rights victories from US history and said: "A great experiment takes great determination. The will to do the work and then the wisdom to keep refining, keep tinkering, keep perfecting."

Ms Harris said "the same determination is being realised in America today," as she praised scientists and teachers.

Following her speech, singer John Legend performed a cover of Feeling Good.

John Legend performs during the Celebrating America event - Biden Inauguaral Committee 
John Legend performs during the Celebrating America event - Biden Inauguaral Committee

07:40 AM

Bidens watch the inaugural fireworks from the White House

07:24 AM

What happened yesterday?