COVID Angst Is Boiling Over and Biden Is Powerless to Stop It

Almost two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the omicron variant pivoting in what many hoped was a gradual recovery, Americans are united by one sentiment: frustration. “I feel like I’m swimming in the ocean at night, and I could be 100 yards from shore or 100 miles, and all I can do is keep swimming.” Chip Franklin, a liberal-leaning internet talk show host, recently said The Washington Post. “Anyone who says he knows what to do now is a liar. “

Messages on how to fight the virus have become increasingly confused. And in the center of the crash is Joe bidenThe administration of, which, after some early good feelings about the development and deployment of a vaccine, is once again struggling to bring the current crisis under control. Their fierce battle was evident when it came to the subject of masks, among others. In August, Michel Osterholm, an infectious disease expert who served on the COVID-19 advisory board of Biden’s transition team, explained in an interview with PBS that the N95 and KN95 masks are more effective than cloth masks in effectively limiting the virus transmission. Dr. Léana Wen, a CNN medical analyst, echoed her comments in a vivid statement from her last month, saying, “Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. There is no place for them in the light of omicron.

Initially, the White House saw it differently; during a press conference in August, the press officer Jen psaki beaten down Osterholm’s argument, saying the Biden administration “would continue to rely on expert medical advice from the federal government” and noting that Osterholm is no longer “an adviser to the president.” However, this week Politico reported that the administration was having internal discussions about whether to offer Americans free or heavily discounted N95 and KN95 masks to protect against the highly contagious variant of omicron, while the To post reported that the CDC is considering whether it should update its mask guidelines to recommend people opt for highly protective masks. White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients went so far as to say in a press briefing Wednesday that the Biden administration “is seriously considering options for making high-quality masks available to all Americans.”

This back-and-forth over masking is a reminder that the White House has rejected the idea of ​​providing free at-home COVID-19 tests to all Americans as unworkable. Two months later, Biden announced that the federal government would purchase half a billion home-based rapid COVID-19 tests for public use. And this week, the White House demanded that private insurance companies be required to cover the cost of eight at-home COVID tests per month, albeit given the paperwork required (the tests must be purchased from the pharmacy ” preferred ”by an insurance company or retailer; off-grid coverage would be capped at $ 12 per test; all may require a claim), access to testing will likely remain uneven.

And of course there was the explosion around the federally recommended isolation period, which went from 10 to 5 days, and did not require a negative test as long as the person was asymptomatic and wearing a mask – a change that started a thousand memes. The change drew criticism from the American Medical Association, which said in a statement that “a shortage of testing at this time does not justify omitting a testing requirement to get out of now-shortened isolation.” .

In all fairness, the scientific community still has more questions than answers around COVID-19: its properties, its spread and its impact on the body. But some fear that the White House’s inconsistent messages could translate into political disaster. According to Politico, a “growing number of Democrats” are urging the federal government to rethink its approach. “It is not easy. We understand that it is not easy, but we have to follow the rules,” said the House majority leader. Steny Hoyer declared at the exit. “But the rules need to be clear and the CDC needs to be clearer than it has been.”

“I am frustrated that we are always behind on issues as important to families as testing and supporting schools,” added the Washington Democrat. Patty Murray. “It doesn’t mean that we haven’t made progress, it’s clear that we haven’t done enough. “

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