With the rise of the Omicron variant, Joe Biden is back in front of the American people later with another set of steps to stop the spread of Covid-19. Unlike his last major action, however, the administration’s plan is light on government mandates – perhaps a reflection of the political firestorm his previous orders created and the legal morass that has enveloped them.
Instead, Biden is pushing for greater access to testing and encouraging, but not requiring, all Americans to get vaccination booster shots. He also makes specific mention of keeping schools open and children in classrooms – a reflection of the white-hot rage last year’s extended closures generated among some suburban parents, who have become a key part of the Democrats’ electoral voting bloc.
When Biden assumed the presidency earlier this year, he acknowledged the success of his tenure would be determined in large part by his ability to contain the pandemic and return a semblance of normalcy to American life. After some early positive results, the rise of new variants – along with vaccine hesitancy among some in the US – dampened those hopes and exacted an economic and political toll.
Today’s actions suggest Biden knows a return to normal is still a long way off.