Biden’s COVID task force is a failure and urgently needs a shakeup

As President Biden announces a slew of new COVID restrictions on Thursday it’s worth taking a look back at the failures of the cast of bunglers and bumblers he has put in charge of what we can and cannot do. It is a shameful record that strongly suggests none of these people should be in charge of an Arby’s drive-thru, much less our pandemic response.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the self-appointed Emperor God of Science, is taking a lot of heat these days, and for good reason. It’s not just his cavalcade of mistakes over the past two years but also his refusal to accept any criticism of himself as even vaguely legitimate.

But, honestly, the problem is far bigger than Fauci. In fact, the entirety of President Joe Biden’s White House COVID Task Force has been an abysmal disaster, and it is time for a change.

The task force is led by Jeff Zientz, and features CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and Fauci as the scientific faces of the operation. Let’s take a look at the havoc they have wrought.

In early May, the CDC quietly announced they would stop tracking breakthrough cases that did not lead to hospitalization or death. At the time experts warned this was a terrible decision. Why? They feared it would leave scientists blind if a new variant emerged. That is, of course, exactly what happened.

By August, as the delta variant was surging, Fauci would reverse course, telling “Meet the Press” that “we need to do more testing” of the vaccinated. In fact, at that point, nobody in the task force or at the White House could answer just how susceptible vaccinated people were to the new strain of the virus, or how much they could spread it, because they hadn’t bothered to track it.

As a result of this throughout the summer, confusion reigned as anecdotal breakthrough cases emerged from every corner of the country. When 10 out of 60 vaccinated Texas Democrats arrived in Washington, D.C., testing positive, it was clear to anyone with eyes that vaccinated people were getting and spreading COVID.

But answers for the American people were not forthcoming from the Biden administration. In late July, when a breakthrough case was reported at the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked how many there were and declined to answer, saying, “Why do you need to have that information?” A week later the CDC reversed course on masking, urging vaccinated Americans to once again don the mouth muzzles.

Now, as the micron variant looms on the horizon another abject failure of the Biden Task Force has become clear. Once again it involves a lack of testing. As Dr. Marc Siegel put it, “It is inexcusable that almost two years in the worst pandemic in a hundred years, we still don’t have free testing in every home, provided by the federal government through public-private partnership like Operation Warp Speed.”

Perhaps the greatest failure of this iteration of the task force is its utter inability to communicate effectively with the American people. Whatever one may say about the excessive nature of the marathon task force press conferences of the Trump era, every question was answered.

This task force instead holds Zoom pressers, often as short as 25 minutes, with few questions and fewer follow-ups. The result is that the citizenry, through its news media, has been utterly unable to effectively interrogate the ivory tower, elite scientists apparently making huge decisions about our lives.

The mismanagement listed above is far more egregious than any mistake made by Trump’s task force, despite the fact that when Biden took office we had been studying COVID for a year and had three working vaccines. Had the task force allowed its feet to be held to the fire by the press, many of the mistakes listed above could have been avoided.

Instead, a steady lack of trust has taken hold. Americans are needlessly confused and have been almost since the moment Biden took the oath of office. Transparency has been replaced by “shut up and do as you’re told.”

From the border to Afghanistan to the economy, it is clear that Biden has no desire to punish incompetence. It is hard to imagine what, if any, kind of disastrous mismanagement could get anybody in the administration fired. But as regards the task force, change is needed and it is needed today.

We need transparency, we need competence, we need real press conferences. Put simply, we need wholesale change in the scientific leadership of our pandemic response.

More than anything, we need a task force that does the research and tells us the unvarnished truth, not whatever they think will bend our behavior to their will. Until that happens, this national nightmare will never end.

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