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Monday, June 17, 2024

Boyd: The Biden administration needs to do better

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The Biden administration fumbled the ball.

Big time.

As a presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden heavily criticized then President Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. I expected more (let’s be honest, the bar was set really low) from President Joe Biden, and he seemed to expect government to do more to take care of its people.

Biden started out strong: making vaccination access a priority and encouraging Americans to get vaccinated. Although we still haven’t hit the mark with the number of vaccinations, things were looking up for Americans. Infections dipped. Test manufacturing declined. We thought we could go back to normal.

Well, as this pesky coronavirus has done time and again, it switched up on us and made a fool out of us. We’re two years into a global pandemic that shows no signs of ending. Instead, the ever-evolving coronavirus morphs into variants that wreak all manner of havoc on our lives and caught the Biden administration flat-footed.

Then before the Biden administration could get a handle on delta, the omicron variant came out of nowhere and took over. While the symptoms may be milder, it’s more contagious, meaning more people are contracting it. The Indiana State Department of Health announced the first detected case of the omicron variant Dec. 15, 2021. The variant was found in a specimen taken Dec. 9, 2021.

On Dec. 15, 2021, there were 697 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Marion County. At the time, that number was the most confirmed cases since Sept. 9, 2021. On Jan. 18, the number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Marion County was 1, 562.
The numbers are drastic, and the response from the federal government should be just as drastic.

How was the Biden administration caught off guard so badly?

There are supposed to be people who predict, plan and strategize for occurrences such as this. There are supposed to be contingency plans in place if A, B or C happens. It’s one thing for the general population to be caught off guard, but it’s another thing all together when its government is — especially an administration that was critical of its predecessor and promised to do better.

I’m glad we’ll finally get free at-home test kits. These 500 million test kits are sorely needed, especially after hearing story after story of long lines and long waits at testing sites. Four test kits per household may not last long, though, unless they arrive after the omicron variant has reached its peak. In addition to tests, the Biden administration will give away 400 million N95 masks starting next week. Each person can get three masks. So four tests and three masks. That’s a start.

At the very least, the Biden administration could’ve provided Americans with masks months ago. If this is a public health crisis, it makes sense government provide the public with the means to protect itself. Mask wearing should be easy and accessible. People are always free to get fancy and upgrade but providing a basic mask should’ve been a priority to stop the spread of COVID-19 as local governments reopened businesses and people started congregating again. Many places operated as normal but asked or required patrons to wear a mask.

The Biden administration put all of their eggs in the vaccination basket. They’ve beat the drum of vaccination for months now. While I wouldn’t dare suggest the administration stop asking Americans to get vaccinated, or making vaccines easily accessible, that can’t be the only strategy.

During a recent interview, TODAY’s host Craig Melvin asked Vice President Kamala Harris if it was time to shift course with regard to COVID-19. Harris’ response:

“It is time for us to do what we have been doing. And that time is every day. Every day it is time for us to agree that there are things and tools that are available to us to slow this thing down.”

I don’t know what this means. Harris then returned to her talking point of vaccinations.

At this point, I want better from the Biden administration (and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

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