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FOR BIDEN, A DAY OF COVID RECKONING IS COMING. President Joe Biden has come up with a new set of measures to deal with the surge in COVID cases. The plan, which focuses mostly on assisting hospitals, home testing, and promoting vaccinations, is the latest evidence that Biden, who during the presidential campaign portrayed himself as an experienced leader who knew how to handle the pandemic, was not, in fact, prepared to handle the pandemic.

The simple fact is, Biden has failed to live up to his promises to control the pandemic. During his second debate with then-President Donald Trump, Biden pledged to "shut down the virus." After the candidates' first debate, Biden tweeted: "220,000 deaths. If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this: Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain President of the United States."

First, it was a slander to say that Trump was "responsible" for all U.S. deaths from COVID, which has killed millions around the world — about 5.3 million so far. Second, once Biden became president, the U.S. deaths did not stop. According to the CDC, on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021, the U.S. had suffered 424,401 deaths from COVID. Today, after 11 months of a Biden presidency, the number is 803,593. Biden did not shut down the virus.

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Of course, a president cannot shut down a virus. Biden is not to blame for the roughly 380,000 U.S. deaths that have occurred so far during his presidency. But Trump was not to blame, either, and still, Biden blamed him for it. So if anyone wants to blame Biden for the deaths that have occurred since Jan. 20, 2021, blame away.

During the campaign, Biden promised over and over that he had a "comprehensive plan" to fight COVID. There wasn't much to it. The heart of the plan was to distribute the vaccine developed under Trump's Operation Warp Speed. In the weeks before the election, Biden questioned the integrity of the vaccine development process — he suggested that Trump might have forced shortcuts in research, testing, and approval — but once he won, Biden made mass vaccination his main COVID goal. He also encouraged the use of masks and social distancing, which had become features of American life during the last year of the Trump administration.

Biden had significant success with the vaccination drive, with about 241 million people, or about 73% of the population, receiving at least one shot, according to the CDC. (About 85% of the population 18 years and older is vaccinated.) But to be fair, it seems likely that Trump, or any other president, Democrat or Republican, would have hit similar numbers by now. Also, a key Biden initiative, a vaccine mandate, has gotten hung up in the courts.

Biden was not prepared for new developments. The delta variant hit midway through his first year, and now, the omicron variant has arrived. The administration was caught flat-footed, which Vice President Kamala Harris, in an unexpected moment of candor, admitted in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times.

"We didn't see delta coming," Harris said. "I think most scientists did not, upon whose advice and direction we have relied, did not see delta coming." And then, Harris added: "We didn't see omicron coming."

Biden's top COVID adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, later tried to clean up after the vice president, suggesting that she and the administration always knew there would be variants. But the damage was done. Harris had admitted what everybody knew: After all his big talk during the campaign, Joe Biden wasn't ready to deal with COVID.

Meanwhile, some experts begged Biden to do something big, like Operation Warp Speed. "Omicron's potential to be the first variant requiring [an updated vaccine] has several high-profile scientists arguing that the Biden administration needs to think bigger," Politico reported this month. "They want the president to lead a global effort to develop a so-called super vaccine." Said one of the scientists quoted in the article: "We can do this but there hasn't been the will or the prioritizing. Many months ago, before Omicron, we could have had an Operation Warp Speed-like effort to take this on." But, Politico noted, "the NIH hasn't made the issue a priority." The federal government, always slow to action, would not have made it a priority unless pushed by the president. Biden didn't do it.

Now, with his new announcement, Biden is scrambling to provide enough tests for widespread testing during the omicron threat. But didn't candidate Biden promise that such tests would be available to any and all when he became president? Didn't he slam the Trump administration for shortages of testing and other COVID basics? And now, many months later, as 2022 begins amid long lines of people waiting hours for a test, he is presiding over a testing shortage?

Meanwhile, on the treatment side, the summary of Biden's new plan handed out by the White House did not even mention any effort to speed the approval or distribution of the promising drugs that could turn COVID into a minor inconvenience for millions of Americans who become infected.

COVID was the most important issue to voters in the 2020 election. Biden was elected to end the pandemic, which he readily promised to do. For the first months of Biden's presidency, the public gave him relatively high grades for his handling of the pandemic — much higher than his approval rating for handling, say, the economy, foreign affairs, or the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border. But with continuing evidence that Biden is unprepared to deal with the pandemic, public approval of Biden's effort is trending downward.

A day of reckoning is coming. At some point, voters will realize that Biden is simply unprepared to do what he promised to do. Without even middling public approval of his handling of COVID, his overall approval rating will go even further down. Biden has failed on a number of issues during his time in office. Failing on COVID, on top of all the others, will add up to a failed presidency.

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