It’s time for Democrats to declare victory and begin the process of managing covid as an endemic disease
There were two pieces of good news yesterday: the big job gains in October, perhaps due to the waning of the delta-fueled covid-spike, and the new Pfizer covid pill, which is reported to be 89% effective at preventing severe illness and death.
Coming after the demoralizing mid-term election, this is indeed very welcome. But welcome news is not enough. Democrats need to take this as an opportunity to reboot the national conversation on covid and the economy. They need to create a more positive narrative and prepare people to live normally with covid as an endemic disease. Right now, many people will not people interpret a world with occasional covid outbreaks as a victory, but with vaccines and effective treatments, it is. The press will continue to accentuate bad news and inflame our fears unless Democrats push back hard.
Biden is a calming figure with a reputation for taking covid seriously. He can help us recalibrate our thinking so we can avoid overreacting to every outbreak and every sensational news story.
I would like to see Biden give a national address, making the following points:
Although the epidemic has dragged on a few months longer than we hoped, due to the emergence of delta, we are making progress on vaccination and on drugs to treat people who get ill.
Despite the usual gloom and doom from the press, the economy is bouncing back nicely. Job creation is strong, which is the most important economic indicator at this point in the recovery. There have been and will continue to be some genuine issues with global supply chains, but some hiccups were inevitable as the somewhat rusty wheels of commerce begin turning again. And don’t believe the nonsense you hear on TV about inflation. Yes, there have been some shortages and price increases, but these have been isolated and modest. Overall the price level is only slightly higher than we would have expected it to be prior to the epidemic. Nothing to see here.
Today, the most significant risk to our economic recovery is a spike in covid cases and deaths, especially among the unvaccinated.
We cannot make covid completely disappear, and people will occasionally die from it, just as people die from flu and other contagious diseases. But we now have the tools we need to live normally with the virus – if we use them.
The vaccines we have available are incredibly effective at preventing serious illness and death. It is critical for everyone to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. If you have been reluctant to get vaccinated with a new vaccine, I understand. But we now know that the vaccines are incredibly save. Just ask your doctor. For your sake, for the sake of your parents and children and friends, and for the sake of the country, it is time to get vaccinated.
In addition, we have new medications that appear to cut the risk of death from covid very substantially.
If we use these tools, the future is bright. The economy will continue to generate new jobs. Schools will return to normal.
In all likelihood we are close to the end, but I cannot ensure we enter the post-pandemic world by acting alone. Congress, states and local governments, employers – and individuals – need to do their part to make the post-covid world a reality.
Of course, it is possible that there will be outbreaks or even new variants that may justify renewed precautions. If this happens, we will keep you well informed. But for now, you should get vaccinated and prepare for a robust recovery – and seeing your family and friends and eating at your favorite restaurants and taking a well-earned vacation.
There is still important work for Congress to do. I am asking Republicans to work with Democrats in Congress to pass common sense legislation right away that will:
Automatically approve for sale all rapid tests approved in the EU, and make rapid tests available in every school, free of charge.
Improve surveillance testing for the virus, so that we can identify outbreaks early and prevent them from spiraling out of control.
Make sure every American who has covid symptoms or a diagnosis of covid has free access to medical care, without copays or deductibles, including to the new anti-viral drugs.