A year later, the presidential message got bogged down with the outbreak of contaminations, a shortage of test kits, and fierce resistance to vaccination by some Americans.
Data released Wednesday showing a new infection record – 265,427 daily cases over a seven-day average – underscores the government's inability to control this virus, the Omicron variant of which has become dominant in the country.
The good news is that Omicron, while more contagious, appears to cause less severe symptoms than its predecessor Delta, with only an 11% increase in hospitalizations. These data are “encouraging” but we must avoid “complacency” because the hospital system could still be put under strain, warned Anthony Fauci, White House adviser on the health crisis, on Wednesday.
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has already wreaked havoc and political havoc for the Biden administration and the Democratic Party. The contamination boom has pinned thousands of planes to the ground in the middle of the holiday season, disrupted catering and major sports championships, or canceled shows.
Upon his inauguration in January 2021, Joe Biden had promised to curb the epidemic after months of erratic management by his predecessor. After having successfully launched a mass vaccination campaign, he even went so far as to assure on July 4, the American national holiday, that the country was “close to declaring its independence from the virus”.
But, weighed down by the appearance of the Delta variant this summer, then Omicron this winter, the Democrat is criticized from all sides and his popularity rate has collapsed, to only 43%.
The New York Post, one of the most vocal critics of the White House, does not blame COVID-19 on the president but condemns his strategy to contain the epidemic. The Biden team, with its hype, incompetence, hypocrisy, and blatant lies, does not inspire confidence,” the daily said in its editorial on Tuesday.
“Remember the Democrats' campaign was based on the fact that they would get rid of the Chinese virus quickly and easily?” Their entire campaign was a lie, ”ex-President Donald Trump added in a statement Wednesday, although he had minimized the pandemic during his tenure.
Much criticism is aimed in particular at the lack of rapid self-test kits while testing centers are taken by storm at the end of the year. We still have work to do,” Joe Biden admitted Monday, citing the increase in the number of testing sites and the free distribution of 500 million kits from January.
On Wednesday, the government also cleared two new self-tests and signed a $ 137 million contract for the supply of materials needed to produce rapid tests.
Howard Forman, professor of public health at Yale University, believes that regular screening of populations at risk is “essential” to treat the disease before the onset of serious complications.
For Each High-Risk Category, I Would Do Tests As Soon As Possible,” He Told AFP.
But the best defense against the virus remains vaccination, with a death rate 14 times greater for the unvaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
Here too, Joe Biden faces the stubborn refusal of part of the population to be immunized, often in states with a Republican majority. Despite an intense vaccination campaign and easy access to injections, only 62% of Americans are fully vaccinated and 33% have received a booster dose.
This week, the CDC halved the length of quarantine for asymptomatic positive cases, to five days, in order to limit absences, a gesture that is not unanimous in the world of work.
This Decision illustrates The Difficulty For The Government To Satisfy Everyone At The Same Time.
And Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, acknowledged Wednesday that the health authorities had relied on scientific bases, but also on human and political factors to make their decision.