Former Vice President Joe Biden has had plenty of criticism for President Trump and his coronavirus task force, but if the country was left in his health advisors' hands, we may not have had a handle on this crisis at all. As it turns out, the members of his Public Health Advisory Committee have downplayed the threat of the virus for months. Fox News first noted the trend.
The committee is composed of six doctors and former government officials. One of the panelists, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, met with the World Health Organization in February about the virus and saw little reason to fret.
"People recognized that this is a serious public health problem requiring serious attention and that it could become a much more serious health issue," Emanuel said after the meeting. "But, at the moment, most people are thinking that there may be a bit of an overreaction by many, maybe even our own country. If you look at the numbers dispassionately, there are just over 1,000 cases outside of China. Half of them are on that cruise ship in Japan. So, considering the world's population of more than 7 billion people, that’s not a lot."
Emanuel also had no plans to change his travel schedule. He was going to go to Taiwan in May regardless.
"Everyone in America should take a very big breath, slow down, and stop panicking and being hysterical. We are having a little too much histrionics on this," he later said in an interview with CNBC.
Other Biden committee members downplayed COVID-19 in writing.
“Yes, there is uncertainty, and the headlines are dramatic," Dr. Irvwin Redlener wrote in The Hill. "But right now, the chances of any of us or anyone we know ever getting a severe, potentially lethal form of the Wuhan virus is negligible.”
Yes, he called it the "Wuhan virus" before the term was tagged as racist.
Still other Biden panelists criticized President Trump's China travel ban, which other top experts have since noted saved countless American lives.
"I don't think the travel restrictions are the panacea here, nor is labeling it a foreign virus,” said Lisa Monaco, former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President Obama.
The Trump campaign summarized the Biden health committee's long list of missteps.
"Joe Biden’s hand selected experts downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, compared it to the flu, said it would go away with warm weather, praised China’s transparency, and opposed President Trump’s travel restrictions on China and Europe," Matt Wolking, the Trump campaign's deputy communications director said at the time. "There is no evidence Biden thought his own advisors were wrong, which explains why he continued to hold campaign rallies well into March. Now Biden pretends he sounded the alarm, which is just another lie in his decades-long record of dishonesty.”
Biden may be starting to realize that Trump is actually showing leadership and that he and his task force are helping save lives. While the former VP initially called Trump's China travel ban "xenophobic," he later backtracked and said he supported the president's action.
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