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Democrat President Joe Biden told governors on Monday that there was "no federal solution"
to combat the coronavirus pandemic and that challenges needed to be tackled at the state-level.
Biden made the remarks after Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R), chairman of the National Governors Association, spoke about challenges his state is experiencing in responding to the pandemic.
"And so one word of concern or encouragement for your team is that as you look towards federal solutions that will help alleviate the challenge, make sure that we do not let federal solution stand in the way of state solutions,"
Hutchinson said. "And the production of 500 million rapid tests that will be distributed by the federal government is great. But obviously that dries up the supply chain for the solutions that we might offer as governor."
A few moments later, Biden responded, "Look, there is no federal solution. This gets solved at the state level."
Biden repeatedly promised on the campaign that he was going to "shut down the virus."
Fox News reported:
Biden, however, has put the federal government in a central role on pandemic mitigation measures. The Education Department opened civil rights probes into several states for banning school mask mandates. The president continues to mandate masks in airports, airplanes and on public transportation - and his administration increased fines for those who don't comply.
And the administration is currently going to the Supreme Court to defend its vaccine mandate for any private businesses with more than 100 employees.
Biden later spoke about the dramatic need to increase testing capacity amid a surge of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
"For over the counter at home tests, as I said, there, there were none when we took office, none. Now we have eight on the market,"
Biden said. "And just three days ago another test was cleared. We went from no over the counter tests in January to 46 million in October, 100 million in November, and almost 200 million in December. But it's not enough. It's clearly not enough. If I had, we'd known, we would have gone harder quicker if we could have."
Coronavirus experts reportedly presented the administration with a 10-page plan more than two months ago that would expand America's ability to quickly detect the virus by producing hundreds of millions of rapid tests per month for use by Americans.
"The plan called for an estimated 732 million tests per month, a number that would require a major ramp-up of manufacturing capacity,"
Vanity Fair reported. "The antigen tests at the center of the plan can detect the virus when patients are at their most contagious. Though less sensitive than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) laboratory tests, which can detect the virus's genetic material at any stage of infection, antigen tests provide a quick snapshot in time for those seeking assurance that they are safe to travel or won't accidentally infect vulnerable relatives."
The plan might have prevented problems that the U.S. is currently experiencing as many Americans are trying to find tests during the holiday season.
"Three days after the meeting, on October 25, the COVID-19 testing experts-who hailed from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Rockefeller Foundation, the COVID Collaborative, and several other organizations-received a back channel communication from a White House official,"
the report added. "Their big, bold idea for free home tests for all Americans to avoid a holiday surge, they were told, was dead."
Vanity Fair also cited an "administration official"
who was allegedly at the meeting, who claimed that such a plan simply wasn't possible at the time: "We did not have capacity to manufacture over-the-counter tests at that scale."
Top scientists slammed Biden over the report, including:
- Dr. Steven Phillips, a vice president of science and strategy for the Covid Collaborative: "The White House, in baseball terms, was playing small ball. When it comes to rapid testing, they're bunting the players along."
- Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. Surgeon General: "Wondering if @COVIDOversight will hold hearings on this? Or WH refusal to supply better masks? Or if we'll just keep only talking about 2020?"
- Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority: "Surprised that expert external guidance was shelved in light of an ongoing pandemic. Seems contradictory to comments that some wished they'd had insight & a plan 2 months ago. It's clear now that there was a plan 2 months ago. It's time we got serious about ending the pandemic."
- Dr. Richard Ebright, Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University and Laboratory Director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology: "Sad that this is under a new Administration. That had eleven months to get its act together. But that failed utterly."
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