Biden during the campaign released a ‘seven-point plan’ to ‘beat COVID-19’
President Biden’s lament Friday that there is “nothing we can do” to alter the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic stood in contrast to previous declarations that he would defeat COVID-19.
During the campaign, Biden exuded greater optimism about his ability to tackle the problem, releasing a “seven-point plan” to “beat COVID-19” and promising “decisive public health and economic steps necessary to get the virus under control.”
In November, Biden said he was going to “shut down” coronavirus once in office. “I am not going to shut down the economy, period. I am going to shut down the virus,” he said on Nov. 19.
Biden was pressed Monday to explain the change of tone between his campaign promises and current sentiment.
“I know he always asks me tough questions, and he always has an edge to them, but I like him anyways,” Biden said before calling on Fox News’ Peter Doocy in a press conference Monday.
“Now that you’re president, you’re saying there’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next couple months,” Doocy asked the president. “What happened to two months ago when you were talking declaratively about ‘I am going to shut down the virus’?”
“I am going to shut down the virus, I never said I’m going to do it two months,” the president said. “It took a long time to get here, it’s going to take a long time to beat it.”
Biden said Monday that he hoped to increase to 1 million vaccines per day before three weeks, and eventually get to 1.5 million per day.
Biden caused a stir with the grim outlook he offered on the nation’s ability to combat the coronavirus pandemic. While announcing two executive orders meant to provide food assistance to low-income families and protect workers’ rights during the pandemic, he said: “If we fail to act, there will be a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months as this pandemic rages on because there’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.”
Biden also said the country’s death toll was “expected to reach well over 600,000.” More than 420,000 have died of Covid-19. The seven-day average daily death toll is 3,074 as of Jan. 25, and if trends continue it would take about 58 days to reach 600,000 deaths. But reports of new cases have declined more than 30 percent in the last two weeks. Last week Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was cautiously optimistic the U.S. had reached a “plateau” in new cases, though hospitalizations and deaths would lag behind.
Critics, including former Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, pointed out that coronavirus-related restrictions imposed in several states were meant to “flatten the curve.”
“Haven’t we been told for months that restrictions and mandates were necessary to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months?” Amash wrote on Twitter.
Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Xavier Becerra tried to straighten out the Biden administration’s messaging on its pandemic plan.
“I believe President Biden made it very clear, the plane is in a nosedive, and we gotta pull it up. And you’re not going to do that overnight,” Becerra told “State of the Union” host Dana Bash on CNN. “But we’re gonna pull it up, we have to pull it up. Failure’s not an option here, and so we will.”
When asked if that means he believes the administration can indeed change the pandemic’s trajectory, Becerra reiterated that it would not happen “overnight,” but said that progress is possible if people work together.
“We can do better,” he said. “We can not only control COVID but get us back to real normality. But it takes everybody. All hands on deck. We’ve got to make sure we’re coordinated. And we are talking to people. We can’t just tell the states, ‘Here’s some PPE, some masks, here’s some vaccines, now go do it.’ No, no. When we hand them over, we stay with them and provide resources to make it happen.”
Becerra said if everyone wore face masks in line with Biden’s “100-Day Masking Challenge” the virus would be under control. “If we get people following the president’s guidance of wearing a mask for the first 100 days, we’re going to get control of this thing,” he said.
A December poll found that 89% of people were already wearing masks nearly every time they left the house and would be in contact with others and 73% wore them every single time.