Biden prepares his virus response which looks awfully… familiar


Over the weekend, I reviewed Joe Biden’s victory speech and pointed out his claim that he was going to roll up his sleeves and get to work on getting the pandemic “under control.” What was missing from his remarks was any hint about what he was going to do to accomplish this. I somehow doubt Uncle Joe reads Hot Air, but he came out yesterday with an attempt to answer the questions I raised. He set forth a few of the steps he planned to take in terms of the virus, at least in general terms, along with naming some people he planned to assign to his pandemic “working group.” Let’s see if we can spot the brilliant new ideas he will be deploying to save us all from the plague. (Associated Press)

Biden announced Sunday that former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler will serve as co-chairs of a coronavirus working group to be rolled out Monday.

The group will be tasked with taking the virus proposals that Biden released during the campaign and turning them into a blueprint the new president can enact after he is inaugurated in January.

Biden pledged during the campaign to make testing free and widely available; to hire thousands of health workers to help implement contact-tracing programs; and to instruct the Centers for Disease Control to provide clear, expert-informed guidelines, among other proposals.

So let’s see what we’ve got thus far. Biden is establishing a pandemic “working group.” That sounds an awful lot like a “task force,” doesn’t it? And Trump has had one of those since the moment it became obvious that we had a crisis on our hands. Biden is assigning doctors with experience at the CDC, FDA and inside the White House. That’s just what Trump did, though the names are different.

Status quo Joe says he will make all testing “free,” and ramp up testing kit production. Of course, when the government says it’s giving you something for free, you’re the one paying for it. The money for those test kits has to come from somewhere. Also, while President Trump’s rhetoric about testing was definitely confusing at times, he was also beating the bushes looking for groups to produce more test kits as quickly as possible, along with possible drugs to treat the ailment and, of course, trying to accelerate the race to get a viable vaccine out to the public. So not much of a change is coming there, either.

As the AP article points out, Biden is still privately talking about a national facemask mandate, but he knows he can’t push something like that through, to say nothing of enforcing it. He’s going to “work with the states” to support their efforts along those lines. Donald Trump has certainly been less aggressive about cloth facemasks, sometimes even questioning their effectiveness. (As have many doctors.) But he’s been leaving it up to the states to handle that question as their individual needs dictate. Again, I’m not seeing what Joe Biden is going to be doing differently.

You can argue all you like that President Trump “fumbled” the virus response, as Joe Biden did constantly on the rare occasions that he emerged from his basement to campaign. But making that argument implies that there was a better way to handle it that Trump somehow neglected. I’m not seeing much out of Joe Biden’s plan thus far that points to Trump’s missed opportunities beyond throwing around more of the “free money” that characterizes most Democratic policies.

Joe Biden had best come up with some sort of specific plan if he intends to make good on his promises. There’s simply no denying that the pandemic is surging again as winter approaches, though the mortality rate seems to be going down as treatment regimens improve and are shared around the nation. Maryland’s largest county just closed all of their schools again, sending the students back to the online learning model that’s been failing spectacularly thus far. If the numbers don’t start dropping significantly between January and March, I shall eagerly await the media’s attacks on Biden’s “failure” to tame the pandemic. Of course, I won’t be holding my breath.

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