Andy Slavitt, who stepped down from his role on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 response team last week, suggested to CBS News during a Monday interview that Americans did not “sacrifice” enough to stop the pandemic early on.
Slavitt made the remarks when asked by CBS News how much of the pandemic was preventable.
Slavitt blamed politics for some of the mistakes that were made but conceded that the pandemic would have hit the U.S. “no matter what.”
“But I also think we all need to look at one another and ask ourselves, ‘what do we need to do better next time?'” Slavitt continued. “And in many respects, being able to sacrifice a little bit for one another to get through this and to save more lives is going to be it’s going to be essential. And that’s something that I think we could all have done a little bit better on.”
Biden’s Covid czar, @ASlavitt, says the pandemic wouldn’t have been as bad if Americans “had sacrificed a little bit” more.
Avoiding social interaction "requires a certain amount of sacrifice and change." pic.twitter.com/H6fGFv5hLi
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) June 14, 2021
Slavitt’s remarks generated a fair amount of backlash online, including:
The pandemic wouldn't have been as bad if public health officials had realized most people regard in-person social interaction as 'essential', are not bad people for it, and that a strategy centered around expecting them to sacrifice it for months at a time was never gonna work. https://t.co/cPgqfkYE8P
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) June 14, 2021
The government screwed up testing, slow-rolled vaccine approval, discouraged masks in the early days, told people to wash their groceries, and closed parks and beaches.
But it is you, the citizen, who did it wrong. https://t.co/oUphysiMb6
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) June 14, 2021
There was massive sacrifice by so many. This is awful. https://t.co/q8WZ1EZlE5
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) June 15, 2021
Pajama class that stayed home and got paid during the pandemic doesn’t think the rest of Americans did enough. https://t.co/tXhXklBZqD
— Karol Markowicz (@karol) June 14, 2021
National journos had home studios constructed and they didn't miss their millions of dollars, people like Slavitt got to go on TV and dump all over the Trump administration day in and day out, and Resistance libs got to go to their 2nd or 3rd homes.
Must have been so hard. https://t.co/2sJNx30AQa
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) June 14, 2021
How about the millions of Americans who lost their jobs and their businesses?
How about the millions of kids kept from school for a year?
— John Cooper (@thejcoop) June 15, 2021
Andy Slavitt didn't miss a single paycheck. https://t.co/Ct7WbMVcdo
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) June 14, 2021
22 million Americans lost their job last year and Biden’s COVID czar thinks Americans didn’t sacrifice enough. https://t.co/GWatm0ukc8
— RSC (@RepublicanStudy) June 14, 2021
This is the message from America’s corporate and managerial class, which flourished during the pandemic and whose members happily worked from home while the working class suffered: “maybe you selfish poors should have suffered more.” https://t.co/3209EBXD62
— John Daniel Davidson (@johnddavidson) June 14, 2021
CBS HOST: The book is called ‘Preventable.’ How much of this pandemic was preventable and how?
ANDY SLAVITT, BIDEN CORONAVIRUS ADVISER: Well of course, we would have had a pandemic here in the U.S. no matter what. But look, we can count the mistakes. And I think it’s important that we do if for nothing else, so we don’t repeat them. We obviously had a set of technical mistakes with the testing and the PPE that we know about. But if we’re honest, we also had two other types of mistakes that caused a lot of loss of life. One, were just plainly political leadership mistakes. There was a lot, we denied the virus for too long out of the Trump White House, there was too much squashing of dissent and playing on divisions. But I also think we all need to look at one another and ask ourselves, ‘what do we need to do better next time?’ And in many respects, being able to sacrifice a little bit for one another to get through this and to save more lives is going to be it’s going to be essential. And that’s something that I think we could all have done a little bit better on.
CBS HOST: So when we look in the mirror and evaluate our own role in all this, the public, how we could have sacrificed more, as you say, and we think about the possibility of a difficult fall or winter or a difficult variant. What more needs to be done now to prepare ourselves as a public, putting aside the government and the scientific part of this, for us as the public, what’s the message?
SLAVITT: Well, there’s a couple simple things. One is that all the people that for so long, live so close to the edge, that don’t have a great safety net, that don’t have great health insurance, but they’re forced to work day in and day out to serve us, they’re growing crops, they’re delivering food to our warehouses, they’re working in grocery stores, they’re delivering food to our door, all those people are at risk all the time. And so … there’s a chapter in the book called ‘The Room Service Pandemic,’ and it talks about how a lot of us had it quite okay during the pandemic and others didn’t. So we should be looking at that. And then look, preventing the spread of the disease is really about a couple simple things, not breathing near one another in large spaces. That’s really, that’s really it if you want to be overly simple about it. And that requires a certain amount of sacrifice and change. It’s a short period of time. And we, none of us can do it forever. And it’s not pleasant. But when we do, we reduce the amount of spread pretty dramatically and if the variants come back in the fall, as it as they will, the people who are unvaccinated really are going to need to pay serious attention to that and consider getting vaccinated–
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