President Joe Biden signed an executive order Tuesday barring federal agencies from using “xenophobic” terms like “China virus” to refer to COVID-19, the Washington Examiner reported.
According to the Examiner, the order calls on federal agencies to scour their coronavirus-related guidelines and policies for such terminology and remove any evidence of it, if necessary.
The move comes as part of an effort “to combat the resurgence of xenophobia, particularly against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” amid the pandemic, Biden said Tuesday, according to ABC News. “This is unacceptable, and it’s un-American.”
NEW: Pres. Biden: “Today, I’m directing federal agencies to combat the resurgence of xenophobia, particularly against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, that we’ve seen skyrocket during this pandemic.” https://t.co/IEXZ7eZA0R pic.twitter.com/FKLMKH1eKH
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 26, 2021
Biden’s new EO
Biden’s comments mirrored language included in his Tuesday executive order, which asserts that discontinuing the use of these “xenophobic” terms “is critical to guaranteeing the safety and security of the American people.”
“During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric has put Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) persons, families, communities, and businesses at risk,” the order adds.
In a clear swipe at former President Donald Trump, the measure continues:
The Federal Government must recognize that it has played a role in furthering these xenophobic sentiments through the actions of political leaders, including references to the COVID-19 pandemic by the geographic location of its origin. Such statements have stoked unfounded fears and perpetuated stigma about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and have contributed to increasing rates of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI persons.
Biden’s order concludes that all “[e]xecutive departments and agencies (agencies) shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that official actions, documents, and statements, including those that pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic, do not exhibit or contribute to racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
But while Biden may be trying to put up a tough facade when it comes to COVID-19, his administration has already shown that it’s falling flat when it comes to managing the pandemic. Just a day before Biden took this executive action, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki faced criticism for struggling to answer a reporter’s question about the distribution of vaccines to fight the virus.
“I know it’s complicated what’s being shipped and distributed and actually injected, but is there at least a ballpark amount that officials are aware of, of how much vaccine there is?” one reporter asked, according to a White House transcript.
In addition to taking another cheap shot at Trump, Psaki told the press to give Biden some time. When it comes to the coronavirus, however, time has long been a scarce resource.
“We’ve been here for five days to evaluate the supply so that we can release the maximum amount while also ensuring that everyone can get the second dose on the FDA-recommended schedule,” Psaki said Monday. “So the confusion around this issue, which we acknowledge there is some confusion…speaks to a larger problem, which is what we’re inheriting from the prior administration, which is much worse than we could have imagined.”