White House reporters confronted President Biden over Vanity Fair’s article that claimed his administration rejected a plan to increase holiday testing by COVID-testing specialists. Before departing for Marine One, Biden stated that he didn’t reject the offer. “My question is: “Why did your administration reject the holiday testing surge in October?” Is the blame on you? In a follow-up tweet, Nelson stated that President Biden said “We didn’t reject” it.
Biden made a confession about how he handled rapid tests during a phone call Monday morning with several U.S. governors, saying that it was not enough. It is clearly not enough. We would have done more, faster if I – or we – had we known.”
According to Vanity Fair, the Biden Administration rejected an October proposal for ‘free rapid tests for holidays’. This happened despite President Biden saying to ABC News that he regretted not ordering 500 million at-home tests two months ago.
Katherine Eban, a writer, reported that the publication received a 10-page plan by testing experts detailing steps to provide COVID-19 rapid at-home testing to Americans. The plan called for 732 million tests each month. Eban suggested that the method, which was apparently presented to Biden officials during a Zoom call on Oct 22, could have prevented the long lines for quick tests in major cities across America. The report states that experts were informed shortly after the meeting that their ideas were “dead.”
“Three Days after the meeting, the COVID-19 test experts–who hail from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Rockefeller Foundation, the COVID Collaborative, and several other organizations–received a backchannel communication from a White House official,” Eban wrote. They were informed that their bold, big idea of free home testing for all Americans in order to avoid holiday surges was dead. Instead, the administration announced a plan to speed up the FDA’s approval process for rapid home testing.
Eban reported that an administration official stated they did not have the capacity to approve the plan at the time. Instead, the White House implemented smaller-scale plans.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, was criticized for her flip-flopping earlier this month on the issue of mass COVID-19 distribution. At a press briefing, she first dismissed the idea.
“Shouldn’t we just send one to each American?” She sarcastically asked Mara Liasson (NPR reporter) the question. What happens if all Americans have one test? What does it cost? And what happens next?
The White House announced later that it would launch a website allowing Americans to order at-home free testing kits starting in January 2022.
“There is not a day that passes that I don’t leave this podium and wish that I had said something with more context, more precision, or additional information. After being confronted about her dismissal, Psaki stated that there was a lot more good questioning on testing that day. “During that briefing, I shared a lot about our expansion testing about the 50m tests, and about the 20,000-free testing sides. Should I have added that context to my answer? Yes.”
Twitter skeptics begged the White House gaggle for follow-up questions about the rapid testing claims. But they predicted that the president’s response would “settle” the matter with the press.
Stephen Miller, a conservative writer, stated, “Well, that’s settled.” Later, he added, “Let’s see if it causes a 5 alarm firestorm in the press. All hands on deck, guys.