Biden faces a medical and political emergency

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The current miserable reality is clearly not all Biden’s fault. He has spent months pleading with Americans to take free, effective and ubiquitous vaccines that in most cases all but eliminate serious illness, hospitalization and death — and that millions of people have taken and used to recapture a semblance of their former lives. The fact that near deliverance from Covid-19 — barring some new vaccine-evading variant — is at hand but that millions more refuse to take advantage is a perplexing window into the nation’s vicious polarization and deep distrust of government. Even now, that toxicity is being exacerbated by politically motivated assaults on public health guidance by several Republican governors, including Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, who oppose masks in schools.But Biden undoubtedly faces a political emergency since he is likely to be judged more than anything else on his handling of the pandemic and as his job approval ratings begin to erode ahead of the midterm election year.The administration hasn’t been blameless. Recent confusion on whether booster vaccines will be available after September 20 has slightly tarnished the White House mantra that science and not politics is their guiding light. Some experts believe the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s relaxation of mask wearing guidance this year — that had to be reinstated as Delta surged — was premature. And declaring partial independence from the virus on July Fourth seems to be another case — like the chaotic pullout from Afghanistan — of political timelines driving events rather than reality.Biden’s tetchy mood and buck-passing during the Afghanistan crisis means he has an extra personal and political motive for establishing a new narrative of command over the pandemic.

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