COVID cover: Biden issues new Covid policy to distract from multiple crises

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The Biden administration’s summer was plagued by multiple crises: From Afghanistan, to rising prices, to a record setting influx of migrants at the border.

Even legacy media outlets, known for their mostly favorable coverage of President Biden, couldn’t avoid covering the constant trickle of bad news from overseas and at home. Democrats – spurred by the deaths of 13 US service members in Afghanistan – even began hammering the president. 

And as Republicans raked Biden over the coals for having “blood on his hands” in Afghanistan and leaving Americans stranded, President Biden needed to shift the national discussion away from his botched withdrawal.

“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” Biden said in an address to the nation about his COVID vaccine mandate this month. “It’s about protecting yourself and those around you, the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love. My job as president is to protect all Americans.”

The announcement set off a media frenzy, as up to 100 million workers could be affected by the mandate. Headlines began focusing on how companies and organizations would work to follow the mandate, and how announcements from some organizations saying they would not comply. Republican lawmakers declared the mandate “unconstitutional,” and healthcare and government employees took to the streets to protest.

Critics have since sounded off that the mandate was a distraction, with Sen. Ted Cruz arguing that the administration wanted to change the national discourse from Afghanistan and subsequently “issued this completely illegal and unconstitutional vaccine mandate.” 

But Biden’s woes didn’t end with the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The border crisis soon reemerged when 14,000 migrants huddled under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas last week; the Pentagon admitted a drone strike killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan and not ISIS terrorists; France pulled its ambassador to the U.S. from Washington, D.C; news broke that the nation’s top-ranking military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, reportedly gave assurances to China that America would not strike the country during the Trump administration; and there’s been confusion over Biden’s coronavirus booster campaign. 

Just days after news of the Del Rio border crisis and the botched drone strike dominated headlines, the Biden administration announced new COVID travel requirements Monday for foreign nationals entering the U.S., ordering them to be vaccinated before coming to the country. 

The move nearly backfired when Fox News’s Peter Doocy questioned White House press secretary Jen Psaki if proof of vaccination or negative COVID test will be required for migrants at the border as images of the Del Rio encampment became hard to ignore. 

And as outrage mounted over the claim that Border Patrol agents were using whips on Haitian migrants, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky overruled an agency advisory committee on Friday, saying the COVID booster shot will also be available to healthcare workers and others with high exposure to the virus, after an FDA panel rejected distribution of the booster shots to the general public last week. 

The move put her on defense, and she told the media her agency is “absolutely following the science” after concerns that Biden’s administration was backtracking on the vow to listen to health experts during the pandemic. 

As the various troubles mounted for Biden, critics escalated criticism that his administration is distracting away from negative press. 

Sen. Josh Hawley sounded off after reporters were denied questions in the Oval Office during Biden’s meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, slamming Congressional Democrats for “defending” Biden’s “evasion, distraction, and outright lies.” 

And even when the news cycle intensified last week with more losses for the administration, Biden had a long weekend on a Delaware beach, which critics latched onto as evidence of having an absent president

But Biden has stayed on message about vaccines, and told the nation on Friday he will receive the booster shot and also directed focus on admonishing the “over 70 million Americans who have failed to get a single shot.” 

“There are elected officials actively working to undermine with false information the fight against Covid-19. This is totally unacceptable,” Biden said.

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