The COVID-19 Pandemic has been tagged the worst health crisis that faced the global community in over a century. It particularly affected the United States, and even though the US represents less than 5% of the global population, in September 2020, it accounted for 23% of total cases and 21% of deaths globally. Most states in the country were tagged hotspots with widespread community transmission, insufficient testing, and lack of basic supplies meant to effectively handle or manage the spread of the virus at the time.
The effects of the pandemic were so bad that it became a major point in the 2020 presidential election. Voters considered the methodologies and records of President Trump with proposals by Democratic candidate – then former V.P. Joe Biden.
In July 2020, while unveiling an aspect of his proposed economic agenda – Build Back Better, – former V.P Joe Biden blasted the then President – Donald Trump and regarded him as not the ideal person to lead America especially in the face of the pandemic. He recalled President Trump’s brags about his expertise on the economy and yet could not explain how he would help families who had been hit the hardest by the covid-19 pandemic.
NBC News in a report last year highlighted that the former VP Joe Biden at the time restated that a presidential role included caring, leading and taking responsibility, and never giving up. The ‘Build Back Better’ agenda proposed to train a new generation of educators and caregivers and to provide families and care workers a better opportunity to make ends meet. The proposal was estimated to cost $775 billion.
The news blog further went on to highlight how V.P Joe Biden assured Americans facing financial & familial instability, that things would eventually turn out okay as he could relate with their feeling of hopelessness since he had been in a situation of despair previously.
The Trump administration allowed states to handle the major response to the virus and used the Federal government as a backup and the last resort. A news report by Kaiser Family Foundation, KFF, in 2020, compared both candidates and provided a detailed comparison of tactics, and highlighted that this decentralized nature of the public health care system demonstrated a lack of national plan which contributed to aggravating community spread.
The initial response to the pandemic was focused on sealing the country to prevent its entry, by the time this was done, community transmissions were already widespread across the nation. This was because travel restrictions, screening of passengers, and contact tracing were not effective enough to curtail the spread. Cases and death rates skyrocketed as preventive measures were not in place to manage the pandemic domestically.
Testing for the COVID-19 virus faced various issues and difficulties. Initially, there was an early yet faulty test, which amounted to a major delay and fostered the spread of the virus in the U.S. Then there was a shortage of major testing supplies, delay in result turn-around times, and confusing guidelines under the Trump administration.
Former President Trump bore misinformation about the virus, provided conflicting messages, and also clashed with public health officials. This was evidenced several times, including when he recommended the use of the drug, hydroxychloroquine in spite of a lack of evidence of the drug’s effectiveness and potential harms. He also suggested the application of UV light to or inside the body and recommended injecting disinfectants to combat the virus. Furthermore, he publicly questioned the use of face masks and gave inconsistent details about their use.
Though the primary tactic was to rely on states, the Trump administration addressed the pandemic at a national level with various efforts. A White House Task Force was set up, 3 federal emergencies were declared to allow the mobilization of resources. President Trump also signed 4 emergency spending bills passed by Congress at the time, these provided trillions of dollars to address COVID-19 and proffer relief for businesses, individuals, localities, and states. 2 of these bills included funding for other countries. The government also launched ‘Operation Warp Speed’ with its main objective to expedite research, development, and distribution of vaccines. Additional flexibilities were provided such as accelerating Medicare payments to hospitals and health care providers and instituting protections for nursing home residents. As part of the President’s second term agenda to eradicate the pandemic, his next goal was to ensure a ‘Return to Normal by 2021’, which follows the initial goal to develop a vaccine by the end of 2020.
Former VP Biden, who was a part of the Obama Administration that responded to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and the 2016 Zika outbreak. The same administration took the lead in creating a multilateral initiative – Global Health Security Agenda to serve as an incentive for progress in line with the vision to achieve a world safe and secure from global health threats presented by infectious diseases.
The proposed principles put forward by VP Joe Biden for response included ‘’restoring trust, credibility and common purpose’’. His plan details a major effort at the national level to tackle the pandemic. His approach would include the federal government, not states shouldering the responsibility for many aspects of the response to COVID-19
He further clamored to put in place measures that go beyond those passed by Congress to extend relief to schools, businesses, and individuals, support states in providing related services, and eliminate cost-sharing for treatment of affected individuals. In addition, paid sick leave would be provided to sick workers and those caring for family members, and also additional pay for frontline/essential workers.
In recent times, there has been a great improvement in handling and managing the Coronavirus. There has been a vaccine rollout and President Joe Biden has been in office for a while. A report published by FiveThirtyEight stated that more Americans endorse the tactics deployed by President Biden in handling the coronavirus as early as a month after he got into office, as compared with efforts made by former president Donald Trump.
A detailed assessment of all Americans who approve of techniques utilized by President Biden, as shown by a poll by statistical analysis from FiveThirtyEight in a publication in May, reveals that it is still skewed along partisan lines. Democrats are in favor of President Biden’s response, while Republicans are not. Independents fall in between these, though with a promising outlook for President Biden.