The party with a religious devotion to science and data somehow comes up with the same plan as Trump and his troglodytes
In the wake of a potential Thanksgiving day surge in coronavirus, Joe Biden and his soon-to-be COVID-19 task force met in Wilmington, DE yesterday to unveil his administration’s brand, spanking new pandemic response plan, effective when he takes office on January 20, 2021.
“My first 100 days won’t end the Covid-19 virus. I can’t promise that,” Biden said at the event. “But we did not get in this mess quickly, we’re not going to get out of it quickly, it’s going to take some time. But I’m absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better.”
Biden’s plan includes three key elements:
- National mask mandate
- 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office
- Open schools safely
CNN, of course, immediately declared that Biden’s “approach in dealing with the virus…continues to contrast with President Donald Trump.” Kate Sullivan continued, “Since the pandemic began, Trump has undercut his own medical experts and sidelined scientists. The President has refused to take basic steps to control the virus…Biden, by contrast, has long pledged to listen to the advice of scientists and public health experts about the pandemic.”
Let me ask a simple question: If Trump has sidelined scientists and refused to listen to public health experts, how is it possible that Biden has come up with pretty much the exact same plan, only with slightly more masks as 37 states have already mandated them?
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo summed up the media and Democratic position on masks and their overall coronavirus response nicely this week. “We have been religious about following the data and the science. We have more data points, by far, and we rely on the data. It’s not political, it’s not anecdotal, it’s not an opinion.”
Except that’s not the way any of this works: Science isn’t a religion, nor does science proscribe policy choices. Science is instead a methodology for gathering and organizing information about the world. The policies you recommend based on that information are matters of opinion.
The sudden desire by Democrats to open schools is a perfect example. Trump and other Republicans already fought this battle over the summer and into the fall. They largely had a different opinion at the time.
At a Senate hearing on June 30, Rand Paul, a medical doctor, pressed Dr. Anthony Fauci on school openings.
“Dr. Fauci, every day we seem to hear from you things we can’t do,” the Senator from Kentucky said. “It’s important to realize that if society meekly submits to an expert and that expert is wrong, a great deal of harm may occur…Take for example government experts who continue to call for schools and day care to stay closed or that recommend restrictions that make it impossible for a school to function.”
Paul added facts that were obvious even at the time, “children are less likely to contract the virus” and “there’s a great deal of evidence and it’s actually good, good evidence that kids aren’t transmitting this, it’s rare and that kids are staying healthy and that yes we can open our schools.”
CNN, of course, immediately fact-checked him: “Even though children appear to be affected less commonly than adults, returning to school still poses certain risks because the extent to which children transmit the virus to others remains unclear.”
Except it wasn’t unclear at all: There were numerous, specific studies and learnings from European countries that either never closed their schools or re-opened them early. As soon as May 18 when the US was still mostly under lockdown, the Guardian reported, “The reopening of schools in 22 European countries has not led to any significant increase in coronavirus infections among children, parents or staff, a videoconference meeting of education ministers from around the EU has heard.”
The debate didn’t end over the summer either.
Governor Andrew Cuomo was citing arbitrary rules, certainly not based on the latest data, to close schools in New York City as late as November 22. “When we hit the 3%, the state law is going to govern, period…You have 700 school districts, they are all doing different things. Some are open, some are closed. If they hit 3% I thought that was a fair compromise because they honored local control. When it became a public health issue, then the state law governs.”
Cuomo said this when the infection rate in schools in NYC was a paltry .23%. The data was in. The data supported keeping the schools open, but Cuomo, religious adherent to data, still insisted the 3% community figure apply.
“Scientifically, there’s nothing magical about 3%,” Dr. John Brownstein, an Epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and ABC News Contributor, told ABC at the time. “It’s a threshold to evaluate important decisions, but we shouldn’t be so binary with these data because it’s so susceptible to changes in behavior and clearly those percentages can be changed with other policy decisions.”
You know: We should follow the science like Biden, who now wants to open schools months after Trump, Paul, and others were in the trenches fighting for it, and long after conclusive data from both the United States and around the world was in.
But, you insist, Biden wants to vaccinate 100 million people in a hundred days, surely that’s new. In fact, it’s already Trump’s plan.
General Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer for Operation Warp Speed outlined the plan a month ago. “I think a safe and effective vaccine will be available initially in December.” If that happens, availability “will expand rapidly in January, February, March, April,” Perna told NPR, describing a “steady cadence” of vaccine rollout with most Americans inoculated by mid-year.
More recently, the good Dr. Fauci also said, “I think we can get there towards the second half of 2021 if we implement the vaccine program properly and aggressively.”
What’s changed with Biden?
The first hundred days of his administration will end in mid-April, exactly the time frame Operation Warp Speed is planning. This hasn’t stopped the media from going gaga, however. Even as early as November, praise was being heaped on a then non-existent plan.
Merely the team was enough. “It seems like a terrific group — it’s a real relief to have great experts providing guidance,” said Joshua Sharfstein, a health-policy researcher and vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.
“With inauguration 10 weeks away, Biden’s pandemic plans face an agonizing wait,” said Science Magazine around the same time. “Biden’s contrast with President Trump couldn’t be clearer,” proclaimed NBC News in early December.
What explains the difference between the media’s proclamations about Biden’s plan and the reality that Biden, a known plagiarist, is picking up exactly where Trump will leave off?
I have my own ideas, but I’ll leave it to you to make up your own mind on that front.