Last week, the Biden administration released a long-overdue plan to address COVID-19. Overall, the good news is that there don’t appear to be any sins of commission, though the regulatory details, which were not included in the plan, likely will be important. Some thoughts about the plan:
- The workplace requirement is a good start, but should be apply to businesses smaller than 100 workers: many restaurants and other businesses will be able to avoid this mandate. It’s good this is coming from OSHA, but there’s no mention of paid time requirements for quarantine or isolation.
- There should have been a vaccination requirement for flying (which also mitigates the racist uncle visiting for the holidays problem). The masking requirement is good, but this is a tragically missed opportunity to increase vaccination, especially among people who are likely to spread the disease–air travel literally involves people moving around the country.
- The mandatory federal worker vaccination policy is good, not just for the country, but for federal workers and contractors. Given how many federal workers and contractors work in cubicle farms, there is no way for these workers to return safely to the office without this.
- Ditto the masking requirement for federal workers.
- The vaccination requirements for healthcare workers are long overdue. Nosocomial infections are a serious problem. Enough of the bullshit already.
- The booster shot policies are good, especially since it seems like a third dose can significantly reduce transmission (though it’s unclear for how long). From a communications perspective, I’m really glad they pointed out that many vaccines require multiple doses, but I think they missed an opportunity to remind people that vaccination lowers transmission (though with only two doses, perhaps not enough to halt transmission).
- Instead of calling on schools to adopt vaccination requirements, at some point, just withhold federal funds from either states or municipalities. If governors want to play at ‘massive resistance‘ when it comes to COVID-19, impose real costs on them for doing so.
- The backfilling of funds in places where states withhold funding because municipalities decide to be responsible grown ass adults is really good. Heighten the contradictions (to use a phrase…).
- The testing policies in schools is very vague, but is critical for checking the spread of COVID-19. We need more specifics here.
- On the subject of testing, the costs of at-home tests are too damn high. In Germany, they’re either free or $0.99 at point of purchase: the administration really needs to go all in on testing.
- Free testing at pharmacies is good, but not that convenient for some (see above).
- One glaring omission is the lack of a voluntary vaccination registry. Right now, the only verification I have for vaccination (and this is true for many people) is the CDC card. As Biden himself might say, “C’mon man.”
- Another glaring omission is there is no discussion of ventilation. I realize there has been some spending for this, but failing to mention it is… not good.
So it’s a reasonable start, but there is a lot more to be done.