WASHINGTON (AP) – It was the Trump show for almost a year. Now, President Joe Biden is asking the country’s leading scientists and public health experts to regularly inform the U.S. public about the epidemic that has claimed more than 425,000 lives in the U.S.
Starting Wednesday, administrative experts will hold briefings three times a week on the state of the epidemic, efforts to control the disease, and competition for the delivery of vaccines and therapeutic drugs to end it.
You can expect a stark contrast to the recent administration’s briefings, when public health officials were repeatedly undermined by a president who shared his unproven ideas without hesitation.
“We’ll call the pros back to talk about COVID unpainted,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday. “If you have any questions, that’s how we’ll handle them, because let science talk again.”
The new briefings, which begin barely a week after Biden’s tenure, are intended to explicitly reject the approach of his predecessor regarding the outbreak of the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump claimed to have focused on the virus at a critical early stage, spoiling the message of the country’s most popular public health experts, and eventually slapped them in large part as the epidemic’s death toll grew steeper.
The new briefings are part of Biden’s attempt to restore confidence in the institutions, particularly his commitment to the federal government to share the bad news with the good.
“I will always consult you on the state of play,” he said on Tuesday, reiterating the central promise of his inaugural speech.
This was a message that helped take Biden to the White House. As a candidate, he warned that the nation was facing an onslaught of coronavirus cases during the “dark winter”; Trump, for his part, falsely claimed that the worst of the virus was gone.
According to Dr. David Hamer, a global health and medicine professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health, “serious science-based” briefings by health officials will go a long way in improving public perceptions of vaccination.
“There’s a certain amount of vaccine vaccination, and that’s why educating people about vaccination, how it works, and how it can protect against the disease, at the same time, slow transmission is also very important,” he said.
The stakes could hardly be higher for Biden, whose presidency depends on tackling the pandemic and the largest vaccination campaign in global history.
Biden urges a tired population to re-adapt to social distance measures and wearing masks, pointing to scientific models that practices could save 50,000 lives in the coming months. He insisted on the members of his administrative model for the best conduct in the country.
These messages found few champions in the previous administration, as Trump openly refuted the science-based guidance of his own administration. Face masks were rare at his re-election rallies, and social distancing was almost non-existent.
In the weeks leading up to Biden’s inauguration, the U.S. broke records of new cases and reported deaths almost day in and day out, as many states reinstalled costly restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, Trump has restricted the media coverage of key scientists and public health officials and further disseminated misinformation.
To CNN’s question last week as to whether the Trump administration’s lack of virus-freeness came to life, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s chief infectious disease expert, replied, “You know, it’s very likely.”
The Trump administration ended the practice of regular scientific briefings at the beginning of the pandemic after Trump was angry at Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, for serious alerts over the threat of the virus.
Trump later told reporter Bob Woodward he “pressed” to avoid panic over the virus. His aides said he also tried to protect the economy to increase his chances of re-election.
As the epidemic took hold in the United States last spring, Trump accepted the position of “president of war” and held extended briefings at the White House, where he – not science – was the star. Trump pointed to the strong television viewing of the early release and timed the sessions to anticipate national evening news.
From the briefing room, Trump shared his skepticism about facials, despite scientists ’widespread conclusion that wearing a mask prevents the virus from spreading. He wondered aloud whether Americans could take a toxic bleach to kill the virus, such as cleaning a surface. He encouraged governors to “reopen” states, even as cases multiply.
Wednesday’s briefing will be held virtually, rather than in person, at the White House to allow questions from health journalists and maintain a set timing, regardless of the Western wing’s schedule. Involved Jeff Zients, Biden government coordinator in pandemic response; his deputy, Andy Slavitt; Fauci; Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Chair of Biden’s COVID-19 Equality Working Group; and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.
It comes when government scholars, led by Fauci, have appeared regularly in the media to share their expertise in television and podcast interviews. Last week, Fauci called his current circumstances a “liberator” and offered that “one of the new things in this administration is that if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess”.
Hamer said the Trump administration has caused enough confusion and mistrust around the coronavirus and the vaccine, on which the Biden administration still has a long way to go to restore public confidence, adding that some Americans can never happen.
“It takes time. It’s hard to say exactly how much damage they did,” he said. “I think there may be pockets within the country that are more resistant to hearing evidence because they may have thought of what they’ve heard from the past. But others can still be shaken and educated.” . ”
Alexandra Jaffe, author of the Associated Press, contributed to this report.