On July 4, President Joe Biden gave a speech in which he effectively asserted that the COVID-19 pandemic was over in America. Biden said the United States was “declaring our independence from a deadly virus… We can live our lives, our kids can go back to school, our economy is roaring back.”
It was a theme Biden has repeated in speech after speech. On May 13, he said America was nearing the “finish line” of the pandemic. On June 15, he said: “America is headed into the summer dramatically different from last year’s summer: a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get-togethers and celebrations. An all-American summer that this country deserves after a long, long, dark winter that we’ve all endured.”
In reality, since Biden’s announcement of “independence” from COVID-19, cases have surged seven-fold and hospitalizations and deaths are rising as the dangerous Delta variant of the disease has become dominant. In the epicenters of the current pandemic outbreak—Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida—cases are at the highest level since January and are on track to set new records.
Throughout 2020, then-President Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the pandemic would “disappear.” Trump’s lies were aimed at eliminating all social distancing measures that had been imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, with the aim of getting workers back on the job to increase the profits of the financial oligarchy.
Biden’s lying declarations of “independence” from the pandemic had the same aim: to justify the abandonment of restrictions on the spread of COVID-19. “Take your mask off. You’ve earned the right,” Biden declared in May.
And just as Trump’s insistence on reopening businesses and schools fueled a massive resurgence of the pandemic, the Biden administration’s encouragement of Americans to abandon mask-wearing and social distancing has fueled what may become the greatest outbreak of the pandemic to date.
“Almost the same number of cases were reported today (70,264) as this day last year (71,600),” stated Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University on Sunday.
But the worst is yet to come. Last Wednesday, the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, a consortium of researchers working in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released a model showing that the number of daily US COVID-19 deaths could surge to 4,000 by October—the highest level of any period of the pandemic.
While this is the worst case scenario in the model, the study’s authors stress that the current surge of the pandemic is in line with their earlier worst case projections. “What’s going on in the country with the virus is matching our most pessimistic scenarios,” noted Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, who helps run the modeling hub.
This is an extraordinary warning. Despite the availability of vaccines, death rates could again reach the levels seen last fall—a predictable result of the policies of the Biden administration and other governments around the world.
CNN led its Sunday “State of the Union” program with an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to Biden. The moderator began with the question: “Do you think it’s really possible it could get that bad, 4,000 deaths a day?”
While Fauci did not answer the question directly, he gave a blunt warning: “We’re going in the wrong direction.”
Separately from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, epidemiologist Eric Topol told New York Magazine that a likely scenario would lead to US cases surging to 250,000 a day—nearly four times the current rate. “We’re tracking right with the UK,” he said. “They got to 50,000-plus cases. And if you multiply that by five, for the population difference, we’d get to 250,000—that’s easy extrapolation. That could be where we’re heading.”
Topol warned ominously that 10 percent of those infected could experience major “long COVID” symptoms lasting weeks, months or even the victim’s entire life. As he put it, “[T]he ones that can’t work, the real, significant brain fog, the ones that really are suffering—it’s probably one out of 10.”
In the face of this disaster, with hundreds of thousands of people dying and tens of thousands suffering debilitating long-term symptoms, the US ruling class is demanding the continuation of its murderous “herd immunity” policy.
In an interview on NBC News Thursday evening, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky doubled down on the Biden administration’s demand that schools fully reopen this fall, months before any children under 12 will be eligible to be vaccinated.
Asked, “Is there any consideration, any scenario in which you might want to reverse yourself on reopening schools?” Walensky replied, “I remain emphatic that our schools need to open in the fall. They need to open for full, in-person learning.”
Asked if the “CDC is not recommending people who are fully vaccinated wear masks?” Walensky bluntly stated, “We are not.”
In its total indifference to the defense of human life in the face of the pandemic, the Biden administration is carrying out the common policy of the ruling classes throughout Europe, the Americas and virtually every other part of the world.
This is perhaps expressed most nakedly by the government of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In a tweet this past weekend, UK Health Minister Sajid Javid said the public must not “cower” from the disease, instead learning to “live with” the pandemic.
Epidemiologist Deepti Gurdasani, a leading author of the Lancet study condemning the UK government’s promotion of “herd immunity through mass infection,” denounced Javid’s statement, saying, “Caring isn’t cowardice. Removing protections from people when almost half of our population hasn’t been vaccinated to bow to ideology is.”
The UK is, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, carrying out a “test case” for whether it is possible to “enjoy something approaching pre-pandemic life in the face of fast transmitting versions of the virus.”
The Journal elaborated: “The experiment should give a strong signal of whether COVID-19 can be relegated to the status of a manageable, seasonal menace such as influenza and whether lockdowns and social distancing can be consigned to the past.”
This “experiment” is being repeated around the world, including in the United States. As former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb made clear last weekend, “The assumptions built into those models is no mitigation, no mandates for masks, no closures of businesses.” He added. “I think that’s likely to be the norm.”
In response to the total intransigence of governments on abandoning all social distancing measures and enforcing the full reopening of schools and businesses, the financial markets have surged, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting a record of 35,000 on Friday.
From the start of the pandemic, the response of governments around the world has been animated entirely by the aim of preserving the wealth and privileges of the financial oligarchy, at the expense of preserving human lives.
In response to the murderous “herd immunity” policies of the ruling class, workers must demand urgent measures to stop the spread of the disease, including the closure of all non-essential production facilities, work locations and schools, with full compensation for lost wages and trillions of dollars in additional health care spending to ensure the ability to test, track and isolate every case.
All students must be provided broadband internet and high quality computers, and additional teachers must be hired to ensure the best possible remote learning until the pandemic is brought under control.
As scientists have repeatedly made clear, COVID-19 can be contained and must be contained if millions more lives are to be saved.
The senseless and preventable deaths of 626,000 people in the United States and over four million around the world—according to official figures that drastically underestimate the real toll—stand as an unanswerable indictment of the capitalist system and demonstration of the necessity to replace it with socialism.