OPINION

Successful federally run vaccination program would be a critical first success for Biden

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and someone that Democrats either love to hate or hate to love, basically put President Joe Biden and his administration on notice last week...when Biden was still, officially, “President-elect” Biden because he hadn’t even taken his oath of office yet.

    What Todd essentially said, or at least implied in fairly direct fashion, is that if Biden and his administration can’t successfully coordinate a drastically improved federally run COVID-19 vaccination effort that meets Biden’s previously stated goal of administering 100 million doses in his first 100 days as president, it will be a colossal failure that Biden’s presidency will likely never recover from.

    Leave it to mainstream news media and 24-hour cable news channels, with their ratings darling Donald Trump exiled to his Florida resort, to reflexively do an about-face by putting Biden’s feet to the fire in order to keep their ratings from tanking because they can no longer simply regurgitate Trump’s latest tweets and react in shocked fashion to them.

    It’s as predictable as Republicans when they’re in power – and this is already happening – running up the nation’s credit card balances like Black Friday shoppers stampeding for cheap flat-screen TVs, and then when they’re no longer in power bemoaning our nation’s incomprehensible debt and saying we must slash the budget.

    The odds are stacked against Biden and his team, no doubt about it. Since COVID-19 brought this nation to its knees last spring, the plan to fight it put forth by the Trump Administration was to have no real plan at all, and simply let each state fight its own battles. It soon led to states paying criminally high prices for things like masks and gloves and ventilators from suppliers with widely varying levels of credibility. The COVID roller-coaster ride states have been on for almost a year now has put a bullseye on the backs of embattled governors, who have been begging the feds to come up with a uniform plan to get ahead of this pandemic once and for all.

    To the credit of Trump and his team, “Operation Warp Speed,” the administration’s unprecedented effort to find a COVID-19 vaccine, played a significant role in multiple pharmaceutical companies being able to come up with successful vaccines faster than anyone thought possible.

    But those involved with Operation Warp Speed say they feared from day one that it lacked an endgame, in the form of a federally coordinated and federally funded strategy to not just distribute millions of vaccine doses to states from coast to coast, but administer millions of doses to a worried and weary citizenry, i.e. get needles in arms.

    The Trump administration pledged to administer 20 million doses by the end of 2020. As it became clear in December that they’d come up woefully short of that goal, they tried to conveniently change the wording of their pledge to “distribute” 20 million doses. Big difference.

    Which leaves us where we are at this moment, with a vaccination effort that’s embarrassing on multiple levels. To their credit, our local, area and state providers like the Minnesota Department of Health, Polk County Public Health, RiverView Health and Altru, provide frequent vaccination updates that detail new and easier processes and procedures put in place to get more needles in more arms. But at the heart of every new update is the fact that there isn’t much “new” to report at all because everyone continues to wait for more doses of vaccine to arrive.

    Chuck Todd, not surprisingly, went the negative route. If Biden and his team don’t meet the 100 million doses in 100 days goal, it’ll be a disaster.

    Well, we’re going to try the positive route here today. If a federally led vaccination effort is far superior to what’s transpired to date and needles go into arms in much more rapid fashion than they have so far, it will be something every single one of us can rally around and a reason to celebrate. It will be something that might start to bring this great country of ours together again. We’ve been torn apart enough.