What more did they want?
A former top coronavirus adviser to the Biden administration said Monday that Americans should have “done a little bit better” at self-sacrifice during the pandemic.
Andy Slavitt, who stepped down as senior adviser to COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients last week, told “CBS This Morning” that while “we would have had a pandemic here in the US no matter what”, Americans “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 essential, and that’s something that I think we could have all done a little bit better on,” Slavitt continued.
The remarks led to outrage on Twitter, with many users pointing out that millions of Americans had been thrown out of work, lost loved ones and forced to alter their routines — in some cases permanently — over the past 15 months.
“Haven’t been to the office in 15 months, wore masks in public for months on end, barely left my house at all during March-April 2020, canceled multiple vacations, but yes Americans didn’t sacrifice enough,” one Twitter user wrote.
“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,’” tweeted The Federalist political editor John Daniel Davidson.
“Pajama class that stayed home and got paid during the pandemic doesn’t think the rest of Americans did enough,” chimed in Post columnist Karol Markowicz.
“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,” pointed out FiveThirtyEight founder and editor-in-chief Nate Silver.
“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,” recalled Reason magazine senior editor Robby Soave. “But it is you, the citizen, who did it wrong.”
Slavitt, who appeared on CBS to promote his new book, “Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response,” claimed the Trump administration had “denied the virus for too long” and cited early mistakes in ramping up testing and securing personal protective equipment.
But ultimately, he said, “preventing spread of the disease is really about a couple of simple things. Not breathing near one another in large spaces. 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 none of us can do it forever and it’s not pleasant. But when we do, we reduce the amount of spread pretty dramatically,” Slavitt added. “And if the variants come back in the fall, as they will, the people that were unvaccinated really are going to need to pay serious attention to that and consider getting vaccinated.”