The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a new policy on Wednesday that invoked President Joe Biden’s previous attacks on his predecessor, Donald Trump.
What is the policy?
Amid a wave of COVID-19 infection in China, the CDC announced that travelers from China will be forced to test negative for COVID-19 before they are permitted entry into the U.S.
The CDC explained:
CDC is announcing today that it will implement a requirement for a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery for air passengers boarding flights to the United States originating from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
CDC is announcing this step to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the United States during the surge in COVID-19 cases in the PRC given the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported from the PRC.
The requirement will apply to all air passengers from those localities ages 2 and older beginning Jan. 5.
What is the irony?
Biden said less than three years ago that targeting Chinese travelers specifically to prevent spreading COVID-19 is “xenophobic fear-mongering.”
In late January 2020 when the world was first learning about COVID-19, Trump instituted restrictions on Chinese travelers entering the U.S. to prevent the spread of COVID, which was already infecting Americans.
The next day, on Feb. 1, 2020, Biden condemned Trump for the policy.
“We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering,” Biden said.
When Trump celebrated his decision several weeks later, Biden responded on Twitter, “Stop the xenophobic fear-mongering. Be honest. Take responsibility. Do your job.”
What is the Biden admin saying?
Administration officials are deflecting criticism by attempting to draw a distinction between their policies targeting Chinese travelers and Trump’s policy targeting Chinese travelers.
Dr. Ashish Jha, Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, defended the CDC’s policy by noting that it “isn’t a ban on travel at all” but rather a “prudent” testing requirement for travelers originating from China, the New York Times reported. He also said it is necessary because China is not being transparent with its COVID data.
Jha’s defense, however, falls flat. Trump was not criticized for the travel ban per se; rather he was criticized because he specifically targeted China, the origin place of the pandemic.