Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
The Biden administration’s handling of the recent uptick in COVID infections and transmissions may become a political bullet train that Republicans will attempt to ride to victory in 2024.
Many outlets, among them NBC News, have reported an increase in COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths – numbers that are nowhere near those at the height of the pandemic but that are higher than they’ve been since early 2022.
The situation is nothing compared to 2020. The recent uptick was most noticeable in the last week of August when more than 17,000 new hospitalizations were reported. At the height of the pandemic, more than 150,000 Americans were hospitalized in a given week.
Restrictions and closures have also not reached the breadth of the nation as they did three years ago, but the essence of 2020 has begun to tinge the emerging 2024 presidential race.
Former President Donald Trump took to Truth Social last week to accuse Democrats of attempting to cynically reinstitute COVID-era restrictions.
“The left-wing lunatics are trying to bring back Covid lockdowns and mandates with all of their sudden fearmongering about the new variants that are coming,” Trump said in a video. “Gee, whiz, you know what else is coming? An election. They want to restart the COVID hysteria so they can justify more lockdowns, more censorship, more illegal dropboxes, more mail-in ballots, and trillions of dollars in payoffs to their political allies heading into the 2024 election. Does that sound familiar?”
Trump later added, “But to every COVID tyrant who wants to take away our freedom, hear these words: We will not comply. So don’t even think about it, we will not shut down our schools, we will not accept your lockdowns, we will not abide by your mask mandates, and we will not tolerate your vaccine mandates.”
The former president while engaging in political gamesmanship, is also speaking to an American public that has relayed that they will also resist any type of draconian mandates being reinstituted.
The likelihood of widespread school closures is minimal. Unlike in 2020, there is no broad consensus among educational leaders on how to proceed, much less a group of parents willing to sacrifice even more years of prime education for their children. Some districts are treating COVID as they do all other respiratory diseases.
Vaccine mandates have been routinely struck down by federal courts and mask mandates, similar to school closures, are unlikely to be enacted or adhered to nationwide.
Not even California officials are comfortable pushing for mask mandates, though they are still leaving the door open to one in the future.
“’Ever’ is not a word I’m comfortable with,” Newsweek quoted Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer as saying. “There’s not that level of certainty with this pandemic. I’m never going to say there’s not going to be a time when we all need to put our masks back on. I am going to say we certainly don’t all need to put our masks back on now. We are at a place where people make their own assessment.”
Democrats seem to be carefully crafting their statements about COVID-related restrictions this time around likely because, from a polling standpoint, mandates are extremely unpopular. And that is a reality Republican presidential candidates are eager to capitalize upon.
“As Biden’s biomedical state is chomping at the bit to bring back COVID authoritarianism, we will continue to hold the line,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a video shared on X. “As your President, I will usher in a reckoning for those who devised the failed and destructive biomedical policies that caused damage throughout our country, because until there is accountability they will try to do it again.”
As Biden's biomedical state is chomping at the bit to bring back COVID authoritarianism, we will continue to hold the line.
As your President, I will usher in a reckoning for those who devised the failed and destructive biomedical policies that caused damage throughout our… pic.twitter.com/VKh0zVkiRw
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) September 6, 2023
According to a recent Yahoo! News article, the percentage of Americans who view COVID as an issue worthy of intense concern numbers in the single digits.
Coupled with the lack of panic over COVID is a drop in public trust regarding health officials. A recent Gallup poll showed Americans’ confidence in healthcare officials has dropped from 44 to 34 percent over the past two years.
In a particularly thorough reexamination of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arizona Republic columnist Phil Boas argues missteps by prominent health officials have led to the American people, as his headline reads, lifting a collective “middle finger to the same old mandates.”
“We all got stuff right, and we all got stuff wrong, because these are complicated once-in-a-generation disruptors that are not easily understood in real time,” Boas writes. “Public health officials, however, got so much wrong during the COVID-19 pandemic and asserted it with such confidence that they will not soon restore the trust they once enjoyed.”
Republicans are banking on the American public being resolute in their unwillingness to lockdown again.
“Forced lockdowns wreaked havoc on our families, our business, and Americans’ physical and mental health,” former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said during an interview with the Washington Examiner. “School closures set back our children’s education, resulting in severe learning and developmental loss. To this day, many on the Left refuse to acknowledge what they did to our children. We won’t allow government overreach to hurt America again.”
On the other end of the political spectrum, President Biden is caught in a lose-lose situation. He ran for president and served his early term with a mask on. He was also public about his numerous vaccinations.
His voter base has some base-level expectation that Biden will again pick up the mantle of caution.
But the American people – and the numbers suggest this is inclusive of those on the left and right – do not appear as fearful of COVID, nor are they eager to sacrifice their freedoms in the name of “stopping the spread.”
This led to a strange Biden episode this week when, as reported by USA Today, the president was seen carrying but never wearing a mask even after being instructed to after his wife tested positive.
“Don’t tell them I didn’t have it on when I walked in,” Biden joked at the time.
The White House has since clarified that the administration will continue to work with health officials to best address the new influx of COVID cases.
Those officials, and some in the legacy media, are pushing for more drastic actions to prevent a catastrophe, which may prove a difficult sell for a president who isn’t even following his own doctors’ advice and faces political calamity if he pushes too hard for restrictions.