It’s no secret that the Biden administration’s handling of the pandemic has grown increasingly unpopular with voters. A December Rasmussen poll showed that 55% of voters disapprove of the president’s handling of the pandemic.
President Joe Biden and his allies have failed to demonstrate a coherent strategy for battling COVID-19, and their message has been a constant refrain of “get the vaccine” and its endless boosters, coupled with endless demonization of those who choose not to get the shots. Biden foolishly promised to completely eradicate the virus, and he has seemingly thrown in the towel, punting to the nation’s governors.
One of Biden’s most recent big promises as part of his pandemic strategy was to make hundreds of millions of tests available to diagnose COVID and make it easier to treat patients. However, those tests have not been readily available — and many of them won’t be until January.
It’s one more failure that sticks to the Biden administration’s reputation like glue. As CNN reports:
The inability to secure enough timely tests for the number of people who want them has led to a new reckoning for Biden’s Covid-19 response. An enhanced strategy that includes distributing 500 million free at-home tests didn’t come in time to prevent major disruptions to holiday travel, and it remains unclear when those tests will reach Americans who want them.
Needless to say, the lack of tests presents a problem because those who are sick, particularly those in at-risk categories, have to wait a long time to know if what they have is COVID. It could delay remedies and healing to those who need them most. One of the biggest problems that emerge from the shortage of tests is that people won’t be able to receive monoclonal antibody treatments, because they can’t get them without a positive PCR test. At-home tests don’t count — but then again, those aren’t available in many places either.
This sabotages early treatment for both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, so it’s an equalizer, no matter how badly politicians want to divide us on vaccination status. And I’m not conspiracy-minded by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s hard not to wonder if Democrats want to prevent people from receiving treatment to boost those hospitalization numbers that are suddenly so important to them.
In various parts of the country, people are seeing shortages of tests, while others aren’t having issues. I did an informal poll of some friends and heard some interesting information. One friend in a Midwestern state was able to get a test from her doctor, while another friend along the East Coast had no problems getting a test. The friend in the Midwest has an elderly mother who is suffering from a cough but can’t get a test until next week — and urgent care won’t see her because her symptoms aren’t severe enough.
A friend of mine in the metropolitan area of a large Southern city can’t find a test at any medical facility, and she’s looked for home tests and every grocery store and pharmacy in her area to no avail. Another friend told me of a doctor who was offered $500 for a test! Does this mean that a COVID black market could soon emerge?
What do these COVID testing issues look like for those in charge of distributing them? I spoke with the husband of a friend of mine, who is dealing with these issues in a town in the Northeast. Because issues may be different from state to state, this is his account of what he’s seeing.
I asked him to give me a glimpse into the process of distributing tests in his community.
“Our state has delegated the process to the municipalities by allocating to them a number of test kits based on population,” he said. “They’re relying on municipalities to prioritize to whom to distribute the kits, such as vulnerable or high-risk populations like elderly housing, daycare centers, first responders, and others.”
His town received an allocation of roughly one test for every eight residents, but the federal government has promised to send more tests by mid-to-late January.
“Patients must prove town residency in order to pick up a kit from our town’s allotment,” he noted.
(Let that sink in for a second. They’ll need to show an ID to pick up a COVID test, but the left says it’s racist to require an ID to vote.)
“Residents will pick up tests from a distribution site, such as an empty parking lot,” my friend’s husband added. “These logistics are still being decided and coordinated. Our town might assign pickup times by appointment to prevent lines, but the process will vary by municipality.”
The federally-distributed tests come in packages of two, and the town will add a flyer that explains what to do if someone tests positive. The flyer will also advise people not to waste kits by testing too soon after exposure.
I asked my friend’s husband about the biggest challenges he’s seeing in distributing tests. Beyond the fact that these tests aren’t as accurate as PCR tests, there are some unsurprising issues that make getting these tests into the hands of people who need them more difficult.
“Demand exceeds supply,” he told me. “Many people are getting tested because of travel, visits, and omicron cases spiking, and also there are a lot of other similar viruses going around right now. It’s a combination of factors making the situation worse.”
The biggest need for tests is in the places you’d probably expect, too — among daycare centers, schools, and first responders, “so we can keep those places operating,” he said.
There are some big dangers to the federal government’s testing program.
“It hasn’t been impossible to get kits; they’re just in short supply,” my friend’s husband noted.
He’s also worried about people who test too soon and think they’re negative but are asymptomatic and then go on to be infectious.
There’s also some resentment that a federal program combined with such unpreparedness brings.
“The political issues came first, then the action,” my friend’s husband said. “The governors announced the kits early on to combat complaints of shortages, then they dumped responsibility onto the municipalities to handle the logistics.”
Then, of course, there’s the promise that more tests are coming next month, but it may be too late. My friend’s husband figures the tests won’t arrive until after omicron fades.
I asked him what he thought the public needed to know that the media isn’t reporting on. He urged people to go a little slower in trying to resume normal, pre-pandemic living.
“People are taking unnecessary risks in order to try to fulfill their holiday traditions, but perhaps they could put off some of the visiting and traveling until this particular variant passes,” he said.
The urge to resume normalcy is very strong right now, but my friend’s husband wishes people would scale back until the variant passes.
“Also, if people are worried that we don’t have enough tests, why use one up because you want to go skiing at Vail, rather than leave it for someone who has to care for elderly parents?” he added.
The health care establishment is noting Biden’s failure as well. As Reuters reports:
A day after Biden outlined plans to distribute 500 million at-home coronavirus test kits, Anne Rimoin, a UCLA professor of epidemiology, praised his focus on testing, a “critical tool” that the United States was “woefully” behind on.
“Unfortunately, it’s late in coming and will be a small drop in the bucket compared to the tsunami of cases on the horizon.”
On Monday, in a call to the nation’s governors, President Biden said, “Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do. It’s clearly not enough.”
It’s entirely possible that Biden’s statement could be his biggest understatement yet.
Once again, the federal government — and the Biden administration in particular — has taken a situation in this country and made it worse. Maybe Barack Obama was right (and this is the only time you’ll hear me say that) when he reportedly said, “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f**k things up.”