In a national address on Friday, newly elected U.S. President Joe Biden said that the US is "expected to reach well over 600,000" coronavirus deaths. So far, about 412,000 Americans have died as a result of COVID-19 according to the latest numbers — meaning that the White House is anticipating at least 200,000 more deaths, bringing the total well north of a half million.
Biden took the opportunity to sign several new executive orders, for the third consecutive day of his young presidency. Today's orders are focused on delivering economic relief for American families and businesses during the pandemic, and include expanding federal nutrition assistance programs, ensuring that workers who refuse unsafe working conditions can still receive unemployment insurance, and making sure relief packages are rolled out in a timely fashion.
Biden stressed the seriousness of the situation the country is facing.
"The bottom line is this: We're in a national emergency," he said. "We need to act like we're in a national emergency. So we've got to move with everything we've got."
"We need to act," Biden pleaded. "If we act now, our economy will be stronger in both the short and long term."
The news comes after Biden signed several coronavirus pandemic related executive orders on Wednesday, including a mandate for all Americans to wear masks for the next 100 days of Biden’s presidency. It's a small part of what Biden referred to as a "full-scale war time effort."