On Thursday, President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to use the Defense Production Act to increase production of desperately needed personal protective equipment for frontline workers. It's one of nearly a dozen executive orders related to the coronavirus pandemic that Biden has signed since he was sworn in Wednesday.

That flurry of action from the federal government is a major step forward in combatting COVID-19 after a year of 50 different state-run responses, according to Dr. Howard Koh, the former assistant secretary for health at Health and Human Services in the Obama administration.

"Prevention and public health sounds easy, but it's not," said Koh, who teaches public health leadership at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "And what you need more than anything else is a national leader who steps up, addresses the public with the unvarnished truth in an unflinching way and then points out the steps that are needed to get us from this terrible pandemic back to some sense of normality. So that's what the president has done today. It's a very important first step, and now we have to make it happen."

We also heard from Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian about the jail starting to vaccinate its inmates and staff.

Click on the audio player above to listen to the full episode.


Dr. Howard Koh - 2:45
Peter Koutoujian - 15:04