Throughout 2020, with eyes laser-focused on November’s presidential election, the COVID-19 pandemic became a central issue, as Democrats looked to capitalize on any and all supposed failures of the Trump administration to cope with the global spread of the virus.
One theme which was a constant factor in Joe Biden’s successful presidential bid was the notion of consistency and honesty, combined with the serious promise that — under his leadership — Americans would stop the spread of COVID-19.
However, after gaining power, Biden’s rhetoric changed, almost overnight. A timeline of Biden’s statements regarding COVID-19 demonstrates that — to coin his verbiage — his “plan” for COVID-19 is a bunch of ‘malarkey,’ based solely on political opportunism rather than an intention to deliver, and changing immediately in the face of inconvenient evidence.
January 27, 2020
Joe Biden wrote an opinion piece in USA Today, titled “Trump is worst possible leader to deal with coronavirus outbreak.”
“I remember how Trump sought to stoke fear and stigma during the 2014 Ebola epidemic,” Biden wrote, saying that “reactionary travel bans that would only have made things worse.”
January 31, 2020
After non-U.S. citizens were barred from traveling from China, Biden spoke to an audience in Iowa.
“You know we have right now a crisis with the coronavirus, emanating from China,” Biden said. “The national emergency and worldwide alerts. The American people need to have a president who they can trust what he says about it. That he is going to act rationally about it. In moments like this, this is where the credibility of a president is most needed, as he explains what we should and should not do. This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysterical xenophobia and fear mongering to lead the way instead of science.”
February 1, 2020
Biden references Trump’s alleged “record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering” on Twitter.
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. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 1, 2020
February 25, 2020
Biden called for a CDC team to travel to China, saying “I would be on the phone with China and making it clear, we are going to need to be in your country; you have to be open; you have to be clear; we have to know what’s going on; we have to be there with you, and insist on it and insist, insist, insist.”
Weeks earlier on January 3, the Trump administration had contacted the Chinese CDC and offered assistance.
March 12, 2020
After travel to and from some European countries was suspended by the Trump administration, Biden criticized the decision on Twitter.
A wall will not stop the coronavirus.
Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it.
This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet — and we need a plan to combat it.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 13, 2020
Biden also released a “plan” to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“Downplaying it, being overly dismissive, or spreading misinformation is only going to hurt us and further advantage the spread of the disease,” Biden said. “But neither should we panic or fall back on xenophobia. Labeling COVID-19 a ‘foreign virus’ does not displace accountability for the misjudgments that have been taken thus far by the Trump administration.”
March 18, 2020
Biden tweeted a response to a now-deleted post from Donald Trump, which stated “I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the ‘borders’ from China — against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!”
Stop the xenophobic fear-mongering. Be honest. Take responsibility. Do your job. https://t.co/nQ5aLVrpyb
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 18, 2020
Biden also claimed that he was the first to call for the Defense Production Act to be used, saying that Trump must, “Prioritize and immediately increase domestic production of any critical medical equipment required to respond to this crisis — such as the production of ventilators and associated training to operate — by invoking the Defense Production Act, delegating authority to HHS and FEMA.”
That same day, Trump had said during a White House press briefing that the Defense Production act would be invoked.
March 25, 2020
Biden campaign spokesman, Andrew Bates, expresses support for travel restrictions.
“The Vice President has decried Trump’s xenophobia for years, and was saying that it shouldn’t influence the U.S. approach to this outbreak. This was not in reference to coronavirus travel restrictions. Travel restrictions, when supported by science, advocated by public health officials, and backed by a full strategy can be warranted. Travel restrictions can buy time; but here, the time they bought for preparation was squandered when Trump used it to downplay, rather than ready the country for, the disease.”
March 27, 2020
Speaking with CNN, Biden said that “the cost of the test should be absolutely zero for you,” despite the fact that Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18, which provided free COVID-19 testing.
He also said that testing “should be able to be available nationwide, and that should have been right from the get-go an objective of the administration.” Twelve days earlier on March 15, Trump announced that “testing is now available in all 50 states.”
March 29, 2020
Biden said that claiming that President Trump has blood on his hands due to a supposed “slow response” was “a little too harsh.”
Chuck Todd: “Do you think there is blood on the president’s hands considering the slow response?”
Biden: “I think that’s a little too harsh” pic.twitter.com/T0olK7Ctcu
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 29, 2020
March 31, 2020
Five weeks after Trump’s announcement on February 26 that Vice President Mike Pence would run the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, Biden called for someone to be put in charge, saying “Who’s in charge, this is not rocket science it is consequential, incredibly consequential that there is certain things that can be done now – should have been done a week ago, three weeks ago, a month ago. The test for me is what does he do from this point on and he has significant responsibility – put somebody in charge. This is a war, you need a general. Put somebody in charge every single day that is accountable. Let people know exactly what is happening. Tell them the truth, they can handle it.”
April 3, 2020
Speaking with CNN, Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager (and now White House Communications Director) expressed support for travel restrictions.
“Joe Biden supports travel bans that are guided by medical experts, advocated by public health officials, and backed by a full strategy. Science supported this ban, therefore he did too.”
April 5, 2020
Biden falsely claims that “45 nations had already moved to keep — block China’s personnel from being able to come to the United States before the president moved.”
Joe Biden lives in a alternate reality.
Over 2 months ago, when Trump announced travel restrictions with China, Joe Biden was criticizing Trump for “xenophobia.”
Today, Biden criticized Trump for the speed he enacted the travel ban.
Biden didn't support the ban until April 3. pic.twitter.com/vndvvmPBTj
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) April 5, 2020
June 27, 2020
Biden said that he would federally mandate mask-wearing. According to NBC News, Biden said “The one thing we do know, these masks make a gigantic difference. I would insist that everybody in public be wearing that mask,” saying that he would use his “executive” power to do so.
July 23, 2020
Biden criticized Trump’s use of the term “China Virus,” saying “Look what he’s doing now. He’s blaming everything on China. He’s blaming everything on the Chinese and people don’t make a distinction, as you well know, from a South Korean and someone from Beijing,” Biden said. “They make no distinction, it’s Asian. And he’s using it as a wedge.”
He then continued to claim that Trump was the nations first “racist” president.
“No sitting president has ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this,” Biden said. “No Democratic president. We’ve had racists and they’ve existed and they’ve tried to get elected president. He’s the first one that has.”
August 20, 2020
Speaking at the Democratic National Convention, Kamala Harris promised that Joe Biden would end the pandemic.
“Joe will bring us together to end this pandemic and make sure that we are prepared for the next one,” Harris said.
September 4, 2020
Biden undermined confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine.
Joe Biden is ignoring Dr. Fauci and other experts and deliberately trying to undermine confidence in the coronavirus vaccine here.
Legit question from this: does Biden believe Americans shouldn't get the vaccine when its ready? pic.twitter.com/AgEGQeL3UE
— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) September 4, 2020
September 5, 2020
Kamala Harris promoted a “dangerous conspiracy theory” about a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
“I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about. I will not take his word for it,” Harris said.
September 17, 2020
Biden claimed that Trump is responsible for “all the people” who died from COVID-19.
“If the president had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people would still be alive. All the people — I’m not making this up. Just look at the data. Look at the data,” Biden said.
Fact checkers condemned this as a falsehood, with Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler saying “Actually, Biden is making this up.”
September 20, 2020
Biden falsely claimed that 200 million people would be dead from COVID-19 by the end of a speech he was giving.
Joe Biden says 200 million people will have died from covid by the time he finishes his speech today. Just a bit off on that number. pic.twitter.com/7MVpUb1R8P
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 20, 2020
October 7, 2020
Vice President Mike Pence described Joe Biden’s COVID-19 plan as “plagiarism.”
VP Mike Pence on the Biden/Harris plan for covid-19:
"It looks a little bit like Plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about." pic.twitter.com/7qpI02QzEW
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 8, 2020
October 15, 2020
Joe Biden claimed that Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan to “get this virus under control,” but that he did.
We're eight months into this pandemic, and Donald Trump still doesn't have a plan to get this virus under control.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 16, 2020
October 22, 2020
During the second and final presidential debate, Biden sparked fear by warning of a “dark winter,” and dismissed the possibility of an available vaccine.
“We’re about to go into a dark winter, a dark winter, and he [President Donald Trump] has no clear plan, and there’s no prospect that there’s gonna be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year,” warned Biden.
November 11, 2020
Biden selected Ron Klain as his Chief of Staff, who had praised China for being “transparent” and “candid,” called January’s travel closure “premature,” and downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic in February.
“A serious epidemic – now, the coronavirus may be that, it may not be that. The evidence suggests it’s probably not that.”
January 8, 2021
Biden transition team announced that they intended to “release nearly all available doses of the coronavirus vaccine soon after [Biden] is inaugurated,” as part of an effort “to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible.” Biden also vowed to get “at least 100 million Covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people” during his first 100 days in office. On January 8, 800,000 vaccines were administered, and on Inauguration day, 1.6 million doses were given, according to Bloomberg.
January 20, 2021
In a wave of Executive Orders, Biden required all federal employees and contractors to wear a mask in any federal building, directed the White House to combat the spread of the coronavirus, and rejoined the World Health Organization.
That same day, Biden was photographed maskless while on federal property.
Peter Doocy just asked Press Sec Jen Psaki why Joe Biden was maskless at the Lincoln memorial just hours after signing an executive order requiring masks on federal property.
Psaki hesitated, beat around the bush, then said "we have bigger issues to worry about."
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) January 21, 2021
January 21, 2021
Biden sources claimed that the incoming administration were “inheriting [a] nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan and must start ‘from scratch,’ despite Operation Warp Speed’s publicly available “vaccine distribution process.”
January 22, 2021
Biden said that “there is nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.”
Wow, that narrative changed pretty damn quick didn’t it? https://t.co/Bn99xkY5HP
— Ian Haworth (@ighaworth) January 22, 2021
January 24, 2021
Ron Klain falsely claimed that “The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House.”
January 25, 2021
Biden reinstated COVID-19 travel restrictions “on most non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders. He also added South Africa to the list.”
“This isn’t the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
When asked why these travel bans weren’t being condemned as xenophobic, Psaki answered, “Well, I don’t think that’s quite a fair articulation.”
The same day, Biden backtracked on his “goal” to vaccinate one million Americans per day (which the Trump administration had already achieved), saying “No, I think we’ll get there before that. I misspoke. I hope we’ll be able to increase as we go on till we get to the 1.5 million a day. That’s my hope.” That goal had been achieved just 5 days earlier.
When questioned by Fox News’ Peter Doocy on his “trajectory” comments, Biden backtracked again.
After taking five pre-selected questions from reporters, Biden calls an audible and takes a question from Fox's Peter Doocy because "he always has an edge to them, but I like him anyway."
Doocy asks about vaccination rates and then his assertion he can't shut down the virus pic.twitter.com/ZX8XPVc3EF
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) January 25, 2021
January 26, 2021
When asked when any American who wants a vaccine would be able to access one, Biden answered “I think it’ll be this spring. I think we’ll be able to do that this spring.”
“But it’s going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we’ve ever tried in this country. But I think we can do that. I feel confident that by summer we’re going to be well on our way to heading toward herd immunity and increasing the access for people who aren’t on the first, on the list, all the way going down to children and how we deal with that. But I feel good about where we’re going and I think we can get it done.”
January 27, 2021
Biden signed an executive order titled “Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States” effectively banning the use of the term “China virus.”
Critics were quick to point out that “British and South African variants” weren’t being viewed as unacceptable.
Wait a minute…After months of being told it was racist to refer to COVID as a “Chinese virus” the WP refers to its new strains as “British and South African variants.” So you can use the name of the nation where it comes from, so long as that nation is not China. Got it. pic.twitter.com/IlXLNbRPvx
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) January 25, 2021
Biden also announced that additional COVID-19 vaccines will be available the summer, one day after saying they would be available in the spring.
Pres. Biden says his admin has ordered 200 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses that will be available by summer, increasing the total number ordered from 400 million to 600 million pic.twitter.com/vfLMpb0YnP
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 27, 2021
In the space of just under one year, Biden has held every possible position on COVID-19. It was unfair to claim that Trump had blood on his hands and was to blame for every COVID-related death. Vaccines wouldn’t be available, and then they would be made available by spring, and then summer. Most laughably, Biden had a plan … until he didn’t.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.