Defeating COVID Remains Job #1

Are We Ready for A Winter COVID Surge? A winter surge here in the US, along with the inevitable emergence of another concerning variant, are vivid reminders that until COVID is defeated here and everywhere our country and economy will struggle to return to something close to normal.  It’s why we’ve been advocating for months now for President Biden to return to a pandemic war footing, and make the defeating of COVID and securing a global economic recovery the central task of his Presidency.  

As part of this stepped up effort we think it would be wise for the President to address the nation in the coming days about COVID.  Do a Presidential check-in, let the American people know about the very real progress we’ve made, discuss the very real challenges ahead, lay out the plan and team which will defeat COVID here and everywhere in the months ahead. There is much good news to share – vaccines for 5-11 year olds, the booster, coming therapeutics, expansion of rapid at home testing options, more sophisticated global surveillance capacity.  The President can also remind voters that many of the challenges we face now in what’s been a very rapid economic recovery – inflation, supply chain, worker shortages – are due to COVID, and the harder we all work to defeat COVID, the faster we can put these challenges behind us.    

It is our belief that the main driver of the President’s job approval decline since the spring has been the public loss of faith in his management of COVID.  We fear what might happen to his standing if the US experiences a serious return of COVID this winter, as we are seeing in some European countries now and as the emergence of the new variant threatens.  It is why we strongly recommend that the President get out ahead of this rising uncertainty, step up his domestic and global efforts, address the nation and make it clear that defeating COVID will remain the #1 priority of his Administration until the pandemic is actually behind us.  

As Simon argues in the Washington Post today there is a clear domestic political imperative to the President re-grounding his Presidency in COVID/recovery: “To me the highest message priority for 2022 is to make sure we get credit for having defeated covid and secured the economic recovery,” said Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist. “If we can’t get credit with voters for big important things we’ve done, we are unlikely to get credit for things which largely haven’t happened yet. As the incumbent party, we will be judged by whether we’ve made people’s lives better, not on what legislation we’ve passed.”

This essay was originally posted on Tuesday, Nov 22nd and updated on Monday, November 29th.