WASHINGTON, D.C., January 22, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — After months of campaigning on claims that the Trump administration was to blame for continuing COVID-19 deaths and that he could tame the pandemic if given the White House, President Joe Biden made the stunning admission Friday that “there’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.”
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 22, 2021
Biden offered the offhand comment as a reason why a new round of financial relief for struggling Americans needed to be approved quickly, to prevent a “wave of evictions and foreclosures.”
The admission is a dramatic departure from the president’s rhetoric on the campaign trail, where he regularly attributed COVID-19’s steadily rising death toll to alleged deficiencies in the Trump administration’s response, going so far as to declare that “to beat the virus, we’ve first got to beat Donald Trump” and to flatly promise to “shut down the virus”:
I'm not going to shut down the country.
I'm not going to shut down the economy.
I'm going to shut down the virus.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 30, 2020
Biden’s sudden downplaying of expectations just days after taking office is less surprising to those who have been following the policy debate for the past year, as the response plan Biden campaigned on was largely indistinguishable from actions the Trump administration had already taken, apart from a greater rhetorical emphasis on masks (which the president lacks the authority to mandate beyond federal property).
Even so, Biden can expect to enjoy an artificial reduction of the official COVID-19 numbers fairly soon, due not to any actual reduction of transmission or fatalities, but rather to the World Health Organization’s new guidance this week stressing that a single positive test does not necessarily indicate that a patient has the virus and that “careful interpretation of weak positive results is needed” before health providers formally report someone as a COVID-19 case.