Biden’s Travel Restrictions Don’t Follow the Science

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Joe Biden never tires of saying his COVID-19 policies follow “the science.” He recently pontificated that he would battle the emerging Omicron coronavirus variant “with science and speed, not chaos and confusion.” So why is he relying on policies that he earlier criticized as xenophobic and ineffective and that are being condemned around the world as racist?

Back in January 2020, little was known about the emerging disease COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, SARS-CoV-2. Tests, vaccines, and treatments were unavailable. All that anyone knew for sure was that the disease seemed to have started in Wuhan, China, and that is where nearly all the known cases were. The Trump administration announced on January 31, 2020, that the United States would temporarily suspend the entry of foreign nationals who had been in China during the prior 14-day period.

Later that day, Biden accused Trump of “xenophobia” and “fear mongering.” So-called “fact checkers” labored mightily to claim that Biden wasn’t specifically referring to the China travel ban when he made his remarks because he might not have been aware of the travel restrictions. But he certainly was aware of the ban when he tweeted the next day, “We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering.” On March 12, 2020, after Trump expanded the travel ban to include Europe, Biden tweeted, “Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it.”

Biden campaign adviser and now White House chief of staff Ron Klain was certainly aware of the travel restrictions when he testified to Congress on February 5, five days after they were announced. Klain labeled the restrictions an ineffective “Band-Aid” because they did not cover American citizens traveling from China and were based on “the color of the passport someone carries.”

Fast-forward two years. In contrast to January 2020, we know how the virus spreads and its genetic sequence. Testing is readily available. We have multiple highly effective and safe vaccines that have been utilized by 60 percent of the population. Among the most vulnerable, people 65 or older, 86 percent are fully vaccinated, 99.9 percent are at least partially vaccinated, and 45 percent have already received boosters. Tens of millions more have natural immunity resulting from recovery from COVID-19. Monoclonal-antibody treatments are available, and two antiviral pills are poised for approval.

So, what was the first response of the Biden administration to the new Omicron variant? On the morning of November 26, the day the World Health Organization labeled Omicron a variant of concern, Biden’s chief science adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN that the U.S. wouldn’t impose a travel ban until more was known about the new variant and how well vaccines work against it. “You don’t want to say you’re going to do it,” he said, “until you have some scientific reason to do it.” But by that afternoon, despite the lack of new information, the president had restricted entry of noncitizens who had been in any of eight southern African nations during the preceding 14 days. Like the Trump China restriction from two years earlier, the restriction did not cover U.S. citizens, citizens’ noncitizen family members, or any lawful permanent resident of the U.S.

Read the full article at National Review.