As we approach Christmas, our spirits are again dashed by growing COVID cases and news of cancellations: holiday parties, Broadway shows and even the iconic Rockettes have called it quits on Christmas 2021.
President Biden, persistently off-key, is spreading gloom by warning of “a winter of severe illness and death” for the unvaccinated, hammering home yet again the need to take the shot. That’s what he’s got.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough. Breakthrough cases, hospitalizations and deaths are mounting, as it turns out the vaccines’ effectiveness is not what we hoped, and especially against omicron. It is hard to find national data, as the government appears reluctant to admit that while the shots help protect most people from serious illness and death, they are not foolproof.
Certain states are filling in the gaps. Minnesota, for example, has reported 116,000 COVID cases among fully vaccinated people since Nov. 7; of those, 4,701 were hospitalized and 839 people have died.
In Maine, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country (with 95% of the over-65 crowd fully vaxxed), 59% of deaths in October were among the fully vaccinated, prompting Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to ask Anthony Fauci to explain the growing toll during a Senate hearing. He could not.
Americans are discouraged by the surge in omicron; many are angry. After all, Joe Biden promised to beat the virus.
That may be why in a recent Economist poll, only 24% of respondents “strongly approve” of Biden’s handling of the pandemic while 34% “strongly disapprove.”
Biden opened his final debate against President Trump saying, “220,000 Americans dead. If you hear nothing else that I say tonight, hear this: anyone who’s responsible for not taking control, in fact not saying, ‘I take no responsibility initially,’ anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.”
The message is garbled, of course, but it is nonetheless clear: COVID is Trump’s fault, and I will do better. And yet, amazingly, he has not. As of November, COVID deaths under President Biden surpassed those recorded during 2020; so far this year, the tragic total is about 390,000.
Why have we not seen more progress in the battle against the virus?
Maybe because Joe Biden’s White House has been laser-focused on promoting a costly progressive welfare agenda and undoing President Trump’s legacy instead of addressing the nation’s most urgent concerns, like inflation or stamping out COVID.
Maybe because the administration has politicized the virus or is simply incompetent. Possibly … all of the above.
Consider this: the White House, incredibly, has failed to bring on board a new full-time commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, a position left vacant all year.
In fact, the White House did nominate Robert Califf, former FDA commissioner under President Obama, to fill the critical post, but failed to submit the candidate’s paperwork on time, thus delaying his installation until next year.
Why is that important? Because the FDA needs to quickly approve new COVID therapies and has dragged its feet in approving fast virus tests, making such products scarcer and more expensive than in Europe. Even the left-leaning Bloomberg editorial board described the paperwork miss amid a “national health crisis” as “incompetence.”
In addition to the FDA lapse, the Biden White House has frequently issued contradictory guidance on masks and shutdowns and boosters; even the New York Times described the messaging as “muddled.”Last October, Candidate Biden blamed COVID deaths on the fact that Trump “still has no plan” and promised he had one. This was the pitch that – more than anything – got Biden elected. How has his plan panned out?
First, he was wrong. Trump had a plan, which was to develop a vaccine. Operation Warp Speed delivered the shot in record time, allowing all Americans to reduce their chances of developing serious illness or even death. The Commonwealth Fund says the shot has saved one million lives.
Biden’s plan, meanwhile, failed to materialize. Biden campaigned during 2020 on establishing a nationwide mask mandate, until it became clear that such regulations were likely illegal.
He also promised to beef up testing, but it has only been in recent weeks, with the surge in omicron cases, that the White House has promised to make 50 million free tests available to uninsured Americans. Those with insurance lucky enough to find a test will have to pay for them.
Instead of a mask mandate, Biden has pushed a controversial vaccine mandate, since millions remain unprotected. The reluctance of some to be vaccinated (and more recently boosted) is a failure of this president, who rails about the politicization of COVID but has been its single biggest author.
President Trump accused Biden of spreading “anti-vaccine rhetoric”; he was right. Biden repeatedly questioned the safety of the shot, hinting that Trump might have pressured health authorities to green-light the drug for political purposes and saying he did not “trust” the president. That did not inspire confidence.
Biden convinced Americans, helped by friendly media outposts, that our country’s tragic loss of life and horrific economic jolt was Trump’s fault, and an alarmed electorate bought the lie.
As of Biden’s inauguration date, the U.S. had recorded 123.9 deaths per 100,000 citizens; that was fewer than the UK’s 136.4 deaths per hundred thousand, but ahead of the EU, where deaths stood at 96.5. Just last week, the U.S. had suffered 242 deaths per hundred thousand citizens, ahead of the UK (219) and the EU (197). In effect, our cumulative comparative totals have been worse under Biden than under Trump.
It was ridiculous to blame Trump for the pandemic; neither is Biden responsible for the terrible toll taken by COVID-19. But Biden foolishly promised he could do better, and he has failed.
Americans are weary, and they feel cheated. They elected Joe Biden because they believed him. Now they know better.
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.