Joe Biden will unveil his plan to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic this evening in a prime-time address. No one will be more surprised by it than the advisers that supposedly formed it, according to Politico. Despite Biden’s claim that he would assemble the best and brightest for his COVID-19 advisory board to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with it, as of last night none of its members had even been briefed on what Biden will propose:
When President-elect Joe Biden announced his Covid-19 advisory board in November, he promised its health care experts would play a critical role in shaping his pandemic response plan.
But, on the eve of Biden’s Thursday rollout, the board members are largely in the dark about the plan’s details, according to three people familiar.
Biden’s Covid-19 response — portions of which will be laid out by the president-elect in a prime-time speech here — is expected to serve as a blueprint for pandemic efforts across the government, including a range of initiatives designed to boost testing, speed the development of new coronavirus therapies and distribute vaccines to hundreds of millions of Americans.
But most of the Covid advisory board, which Biden formed within days of the election as part of an effort to demonstrate that ending the pandemic would be his top priority, will not be briefed on the plan until tomorrow afternoon.
So what exactly will Biden unveil today? If you missed Jazz’ post from earlier today, be sure to read it now, but thus far the groundbreaking plan is to, er, continue what we’re already doing. To wit: Biden will apparently announce that he plans to vaccinate as many people as possible while pushing Americans to maintain social-distancing disciplines, including mask-wearing. On the latter point, having a president endorse that practice a little more enthusiastically might have an impact on its adoption, but otherwise it’s the same as Biden’s other COVID-19 declarations — to do what Donald Trump has already done.
Of course, those might be the larger goals. What matters is how Biden plans to deliver on them. What will the incoming administration do to accelerate vaccinations, beyond what the CDC has already recommended in reducing reliance on rollout priorities? What will they do to support and expand social-distancing protocols while allowing for better access to in-person commerce? Those might be very good drill-downs into the Captain Obvious bullet points, but that would require, y’know, working with some experts.
The fact that the advisory board hadn’t even been briefed on those Captain Obvious plans is beyond laughable, but it raises a bigger question. Has Biden prepared at all for this pandemic? He’s certainly talked a lot about it — again, mostly by saying he’d do what Trump is already doing — but his pitch was that he would bring a lot more competence to the execution of those plans. How much competence could Biden be adding if he’s not even consulting with his own expert board in developing a detailed plan on delivery? Looks like we’ll be finding out soon … the hard way.