In the early days of his administration, President Biden had a modest request that he said could save up to 50,000 lives: “I’m asking the American people to mask up for the first 100 days.”
Now, about six weeks before that date, he seems to have pushed the goal posts.
Taking questions from the White House on Monday about whether former President Trump should be promoting the vaccine among Republican skeptics, Biden said, “The thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, what the local preachers, what the local people in the community say.”
He then went on to say, “So I urge — I urge all local docs and — and ministers and priests and every — to talk about why — why it’s important to get it — to get that vaccine, and even after that, until everyone is in fact vaccinated, to wear this mask.” [Emphasis mine.]
To be clear, even Anthony Fauci had previously said that he’d like to see 80–85 percent of the population vaccinated. And the vaccine likely won’t be authorized to give to children until late this year at the earliest, but maybe not until 2022. Even when it is broadly available, there will never be universal vaccination. Waiting for everybody to get vaccinated to remove our masks would mean that we’d have to “mask up” forever.
If he really means that — literally — not only is it a completely ridiculous standard, but it is actually counterproductive in trying to convince those who are hesitant to get the vaccine.
For some bizarre reason that I cannot quite understand, the approach of Biden, the media, and many public-health officials has been to downplay the rewards of getting a highly effective vaccine while simultaneously fretting about the dangers of vaccine hesitancy. All of the FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines are very effective in preventing infection and virtually 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death. Evidence from the widely vaccinated Israel also suggests the vaccines to be highly effective in reducing transmission.
If somebody has reservations about getting vaccinated, the last thing they want to hear is that they will have to wear masks indefinitely, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.