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“We’re working on it.”
On the anniversary of the Biden’s inauguration, that effort is still a work in progress amid a massive spike in cases with the omicron wave.
Biden also promised on the campaign trail that he would “massively surge a nationwide campaign and guarantee regular, reliable, and free access to testing for all.” That was not the case over the holidays, with pharmacies running out of rapid tests and hours-long lines at free testing locations nationwide.
Deaths and hospitalizations are also near their pandemic highs. Biden oversaw hundreds of thousands of coronavirus deaths during his first year in office. In fact, more people died from the virus in 2021 than did in 2020.
Biden said during a presidential debate that former President Donald Trump didn’t deserve to stay in office when there were just 220,000 Americans dead under his watch.
“Two hundred twenty thousand Americans dead,” Biden said at the Oct. 22, 2020 presidential debate. “Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.”
About 400,000 Americans died from COVID-19 during Biden’s presidency so far.
Biden can claim a significant win in his battle against the virus, with the United States’ massive vaccination drive.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. administered more than 525 million COVID-19 vaccine doses since they became available.
Biden was not in office when the vaccines were developed under Operation Warp Speed. In fact, he raised doubts that Operation Warp Speed could “secure trust from Americans who depend on its success.”
But Biden was the president when the vast majority of COVID-19 vaccines were administered, and has been the top national proponent of the vaccine as the U.S. administered a massive amount of jabs during his first year.
Nearly 67% of people over five years-old are vaccinated – totaling 209 million Americans – and almost 80 million Americans took a booster shot, according to the CDC. And perhaps most important, 88% of people aged 65 or older are fully vaccinated.
However, the White House’s vaccine mandate for workers at big companies was struck down at the Supreme Court, and there are many Americans resistant to taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
And despite the shortage of coronavirus tests over the holidays, the White House this week rolled out its program allowing Americans to order free at-home tests. People who receive and take the at-home tests are not required to report results, which some critics say could skew records of how wide COVID-19 has spread.
Decreasing case severity is emboldening Biden’s opponents to argue the U.S. needs to ease up on its virus mitigation measures like social distancing, masking, and requiring students to stay home from school if exposed to the virus. Those measures are having unintended consequences from development and emotional issues for children to significant hardship for small business owners, Biden’s critics say, and they aren’t justified for a virus those critics say is already endemic
But Psaki said this month Biden’s “ultimate goal continues to be to defeat the virus.” And the CDC is still pushing strict guidance recommending things like canceling school band, football and wrestling, while using universal masking, social distancing and at-home quarantine for students who come in contact with a COVID-19 positive person.
White House COVID-19 adviser Anthony Fauci was asked Monday at a World Economic Forum event when the U.S. would enter an “endemic” phase with the virus. He said he had no idea and that the U.S. is still seeing the worst of the pandemic.
“We do not know that and I think we have to be openly honest about that,” Fauci said. “When I talk about the pandemic I put it into five phases. The truly pandemic phase where the whole world is really very negatively impacted – as we are right now. Then there’s the deceleration of the pandemic. Then there’s control. There’s elimination and eradication.”
Fauci said it’s extremely rare to eradicate or eliminate a disease, and that the control stage may be a long way off. And he wouldn’t even predict what society might look like when that happens.
“It is very difficult to predict what a new normal is going to be until we get ourselves out of this pandemic phase that we’re in,” Fauci said.