Covid-19

In February, Biden chief-of-staff nominee dismissed ‘pandemic of fear’

by Guy Page

Ron Klain, Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s appointee for chief-of-staff, February 13 tweeted “We don’t have a Covid-19 epidemic in the US but we are starting to see a fear epidemic.”

Yet Biden hired Klain, his VP chief-of-staff, specifically for his public health experience and presumed expertise, according to a Nov. 11 campaign press release: “Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together, including as we rescued the American economy from one of the worst downturns in our history in 2009 and later overcame a daunting public health emergency in 2014.”

The press release points to Klain’s role as White House Ebola Response Coordinator during a Ebola outbreak. On his Twitter page, Klain describes himself as the “ex-Ebola Czar” for the Obama administration. 

The Ebola outbreak of 2014-16 that killed 15,261 people was contained in six West African countries. Of the total of eight cases treated outside of these countries, four were in the United States. The sole death outside of Africa occurred in the United States, the CDC said (see graphic below).

Klain’s appointment and Ebola creds were celebrated this week by Vermont pundit Kevin Ellis, on his Twitter feed: “He ran Ebola response for Obama and is a serious professional. Refreshing.”

But Klain failed to foresee the public health consequences of Covid-19. On February 13, he tweeted “We don’t have a Covid-19 epidemic in the US but we are starting to see a fear epidemic.” This remark came 11 days after Trump banned travel from China – a decision criticized by Klain at the time.

That’s not the only wrongheaded assessment of Covid-19 made by Klain. Consider these statements:

  • February 11: “A serious epidemic – now, the coronavirus may be that, it may not be that. The evidence suggests it’s probably not that.”
     
  • January 28: “I wouldn’t [ban Chinese travelers from arriving in the U.S.]. I think that’s premature.”
     
  • January 27: “I think what you’d have to say about China is, it’s been more transparent and more candid than it has been during past outbreaks.”
     
  • February 27: “Here’s one more thing everyone should do. They should, tonight, go down to Chinatown in their city and buy dinner or go shopping there. What we see inevitably, what we’re seeing already, is … people staying away out of needless fears about coronavirus.

Klain wasn’t the only “expert” to get it wrong, of course. But he is the only one to be named the #1 advisor of the man who may be our next president.  

Categories: Covid-19

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