As a candidate, President Joe Biden spent much of the campaign maligning his predecessor as a callous leader who implemented a COVID-19 response plan that unnecessarily cost lives. Now that former President Donald Trump is gone, however, Americans are still dying at an alarming pace.
Recent reports reveal that more than 20,000 Americans died as a result of the pandemic virus during the third week of the Biden administration — and the new president is facing scrutiny for an underwhelming response to the ongoing public health crisis.
“Nothing we can do”
Of course, no reasonable person would blame any president for every death that occurs under his or her watch.
Nevertheless, Biden emphasized gaining control over the pandemic as a central theme of his campaign. He lambasted Trump for lacking a clear and effective “plan” and his allies in the mainstream media bolstered that position by focusing on the rising death toll.
Since Inauguration Day, however, the overarching tone seems to have changed considerably. Shortly after taking office, Biden attempted to reset previously high expectations, asserting that there was “nothing we can do” to change the pandemic’s course in the short term.
The latest numbers support that acknowledgment, with an estimated 73,811 Americans dead from COVID-19 within the first three weeks of his term. At its current rate, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky concluded that the number of deaths will pass 500,000 by Feb. 20.
For his part, Biden’s plan has focused heavily on vaccinations. Notably, vaccines sped through research and development under the Trump administration and shots were being administered at roughly the same rate at the beginning of Biden’s term as they were before he took office.
“Did not do his job”
The president still made a claim this week that his predecessor “did not do his job,” prompting former Trump official Brian Morgenstern to call Biden out for his partisan buck-passing.
“Enough with the lies, excuses [and] political potshots,” Morgenstern tweeted. “Time to lead.”
In fact, he pointed to the rapid vaccine production made possible through the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed as the reason that the Biden team’s “goals were being surpassed before they even came into office.”
Criticism of Biden’s COVID-19 response plan extended beyond the political class, including in the form of a stark assessment from conservative columnist Kim Strassel, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “The new administration has spent every minute talking coronavirus. Yet 90% of its energy has gone to trashing its predecessor and resetting expectations, not to any sweeping policy change. Logistically, it would seem Mr. Biden inherited a fine plan after all.”
Other aspects of Biden’s plan appear counterintuitive. As Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson noted, the White House has implemented a process to allow undocumented immigrants into the country without them having first taken a COVID-19 test.