Washington “Sabila Khan says she’s disappointed and tired.”
She lost her father, Shakat Khan, to the coronavirus in 2020 and is disappointed with what she says is a huge boost to “normalize” the pandemic in the United States, despite growing cases and deaths due to the Omicron variant.
“I still haven’t come to terms with it,” said Hahn, a 42-year-old New York publisher, explaining that the loss of a loved one from COVID-19 was extremely painful because restrictions on visits and funerals meant there was no closure.
“I’m on therapy… My PTSD is much better than it used to be. “I still have nightmares and nightmares,” Khan told Al Jazeera.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more lives in the United States than anywhere else in the world, highlighting deep political divisions in American society and inflicting enormous physical and emotional pain on millions of Americans.
President Joe Biden took office a year ago as COVID-19-related deaths and deaths are on the rise in the United States and vaccines are in short supply. Now, on the one-year anniversary of his presidency, the Democrat leader has vowed that his administration will continue to fight the virus – and move the country “to a time when COVID-19 will not disrupt our daily lives.”
But for people who have lost relatives and friends to the virus, the disappointment is still great.
“I had high hopes that this administration would take over this situation, and we are obviously in a better place,” said Khan, who runs a Facebook support group dedicated to those who have lost relatives to COVID-19 and is receiving 200 new members every week. “But I think the Biden administration was really in a hurry to put all its eggs in the vaccine basket.
The efforts of the Biden administration
On Wednesday, Biden admitted that the coronavirus had caused pain to Americans. But he noted the number of Americans now vaccinated – nearly 210 million – and the nation’s testing capacity, and said the United States would not return to the blockade.
“For many of us, this was too much to bear,” Biden told a news conference at the White House on the eve of the official one-year presidency on Thursday. “But now we are in a very different place; we have the tools, the vaccines, the boosters, the masks, the tests, the pills. ”
On Biden’s inauguration last year, COVID-19-related deaths and deaths rose in the United States, and vaccines were still in short supply.
The ceremony, held on a cold, stormy morning in Washington, was devoid of traditional large crowds and parades due to restrictions across the country on large gatherings. At the time, Biden promised to deal directly with the coronavirus pandemic, vaccinate Americans, reduce the rate of infection and reopen schools and businesses.
By the end of June, cases appear to be declining amid rising vaccinations. Schools reopened and the economy began to recover slowly. But soon came the Delta version, followed by Omicron – a highly broadcast version that put new daily records of cases and flooded health facilities across the country.
During the holiday season at the end of last year, the Biden administration was criticized for the lack of tests at home and the long queues at test sites. On Wednesday, Biden said his administration needed to do more to step up the tests.
“Should we have done more tests earlier?” Yes. But now we are doing more, “he said. The White House launched a website this week through which Americans can order test kits to be delivered to their homes. Biden said a total of one billion tests would be available.
Communication and trust building
Public health experts say the Biden administration has so far been effective in providing vaccines to Americans and reducing disparities in access between historically disadvantaged communities. The United States produces and has authorized the use of three vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Nearly 75 percent of adults in the United States are already fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and more than 40 percent have received booster vaccines. In recent months, the administration has also made progress in vaccinating children.
What the administration has done less effectively, said Michael Wilkes, a professor of medicine and global health at the University of California, Davis, is to pass on health guidelines to the public and build trust.
“There are many areas where data is changing,” Wilkes told Al Jazeera. “Instead of reporting uncertainty as a start, the CDC was a little arrogant and said that’s the way it should be.”
He pointed out that the CDC recommended that the public use cloth masks earlier this week, but then the next day, when further studies emerged, drastically adjusting the recommendation to say that people should use N95 and KN95 masks for more good protection.
Late last year, the CDC also halved the recommended quarantine time for people who become infected with COVID-19 but are asymptomatic, from 10 to five days. The recommendation provoked criticism as well as ridicule on social media, as users created memes that predicted what the CDC would recommend next.
According to a survey by CBS News / YouGov published on Monday, 57 percent of respondents said information about the coronavirus from officials was “confusing.”
The relentless force of the pandemic also affected Biden’s popularity 12 months after his presidency. Forty-five percent of Americans said they approved of Biden’s response to the pandemic, which was less than 57 percent a month ago, according to a study by the Associated Press and NORC Research Center published Thursday.
According to the CDC, as of January 17, an average of 1,850 Americans were dying daily from COVID-19. In total, the disease has killed more than 858,000 people in the United States since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, while more than 68.6 million cases have been reported.
Health experts say the death toll in the United States will continue to rise, especially amid a significant population of Americans who remain unvaccinated due to misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine, as well as political and religious beliefs. Tens of millions of elderly Americans remain unvaccinated.
“I don’t know anyone who has developed a serious illness because of COVID who has been vaccinated,” said Dr. Nate Link, chief physician at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.
He said that although New York had one of the highest levels of vaccination in the country, “delaying vaccinations” in the country led to most hospitalizations and strained resources and staff.
“There is no doubt that each wave is accumulating on the last one, so the burning of staff continues to grow and it is becoming more and more difficult to manage each subsequent wave,” Link told Al Jazeera.
Biden’s attempts to impose vaccine mandates have been met with strong opposition from Republican leaders. His efforts to demand that employees in large companies be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly tests were blocked by the country’s highest court this month.
For Khan, the US’s ongoing drive to remain open and lift the restrictions on COVID-19 – despite growing cases – is an insult to its suffering.
“People want to keep doing this, and we’re not there yet, and I feel like it’s further reducing our pain,” she said. “I feel constantly overwhelmed by our administration, by the people in our communities, in a way that I didn’t really feel last year.
“There is a dangerous story that Omicron is soft, but people are still dying.