Biden dives into work during his first week



Newly elected President Joe Biden signs an executive order on Jan. 25, 2021.

After his inauguration on Wednesday, Jan. 20, President Joe Biden wasted no time getting to work, signing 17 executive orders on his first day, many of which will directly impact our community.

According to the New York Times, the Biden administration has already reassured the public that their priority is getting the American people back on their feet. This means ending the pandemic, rescuing the economy and taking steps on policies surrounding immigration, the environment and racial justice. While he named many topics of focus, the most pressing issue is the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Although he has a long list of issues he hopes to address during his presidency, Biden might have his hands full dealing with the pandemic alone. COVID-19 has exacerbated a variety of problems, including those within education, health care and the economy. The vast majority of his presidency will most likely be spent controlling the virus and dealing with the subsequent fallout it has caused.

A Politico article revealed that several of Biden’s executive orders on his first day in office were directly related to the pandemic and addressing the crises that it has created. Some executive orders that will ease the financial burden on Guilford College students include extending foreclosure or eviction moratorium and freezing student loan payments.

Extending foreclosure or eviction moratorium will give a bit more relief to people who are struggling to pay bills and rent. Freezing student loan payments will give a reprieve to students struggling to pay their tuition or to repay their debt, and will pause loan growth from interest. All of these orders have the nation holding its breath in hopes of another, larger stimulus check in the near future. 

Guilford College political science professor Ken Gilmore is also trying to remain optimistic about the future of the pandemic. Not only does he hope for more money in the pockets of those who need it, but also for stricter enforcement of masks to decrease the rate of transmission in Greensboro.

“It’ll depend on the teeth behind the policy,” Gilmore admitted. He said this a bit dejectedly, as some people still refuse to wear masks, but his optimism remains. Especially after the alarming spike in positive cases at Guilford College this past week, the possibility looms that the pandemic might get worse before it gets better.

Not all of Biden’s executive orders were related to the pandemic; some also touched on immigration, the environment and discrimination policies. Within immigration, the legal protections surrounding DACA were strengthened, and the policies surrounding detection and deportation of undocumented immigrants were relaxed. 

Gilmore was particularly happy about the new policies on immigration, specifically because Greensboro is an eclectic city that many immigrants and refugees make their first American home.

He described how many immigrants can breathe a sigh of relief. Instead of worrying about both a pandemic and possible deportation, they can now focus solely on surviving the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aside from the new policies being put in place, Gilmore’s cautious hope for the future was reinforced as he watched Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Despite lower attendance and the social distancing of guests due to COVID-19, Gilmore described the event as “a parade of what America should be.”

Biden’s inauguration occurred soon after the riot at the Capitol building in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, when a mob of radicals stormed the building in an attempt to overturn the election results. That day shocked the public and exposed many cracks within the existing American political divide.

In contrast to the terror inspired by Jan. 6, Joe Biden’s inauguration was full of hope and promise for a more united future. 

According to Gilmore, watching the inauguration was “like a balm for the insurrection that occurred on the sixth.”

He beamed about the historic inclusivity of Kamala Harris as the new vice president, and the unprecedented diversity of Biden’s Cabinet members.

 “That’s what America looks like. That’s the America I believe in,” Gilmore repeated. 

Even though the pandemic just passed a grim milestone of 400,000 American deaths last week, Gilmore remains stubbornly optimistic about the future. Only time will tell how Biden’s new policies will play out, but hopefully things are looking up.