by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Despite already saying loud and clear that the pandemic was over last September, President Joe Biden has announced he will needlessly drag out the federal COVID state of emergency until May.
There is no scientific or policy justification for this delay, except that bureaucrats are loath to give up extraordinary powers the state of emergency created for them.
But, as you surely suspected on every flight you took between 2020 and 2023, all that uncomfortable mask-wearing was an ineffective piece of “pandemic theater.”
The World Health Organization, which was thoroughly discredited by its performance during the pandemic, has come down with a similar case of cognitive dissonance. It chose to continue its world emergency last week. With its laughable, nondaring statement that the pandemic “may be approaching an inflection point,” the WHO has shown that it is some 2 1/2 years behind where most people are.
For most people, the pandemic has been over since February 2021.
It was not the great minds of the public health profession who did it. Nor was it arguments from those who demanded a quicker return to normalcy. Nor was it, strictly speaking, vaccines, although these did have the benefit of convincing most people they could get back to normal life in 2021.
What killed COVID was its omicron variant, a version of the Wuhan coronavirus so infectious that no one could avoid it yet so weak that most people didn’t notice they had it. Omicron meant there was nothing more to be done about the pandemic. That should have been the moment to rescind the extraordinary powers of health bureaucrats to determine policy in all areas — both in health and, by way of the inevitable trade-offs, in areas they are not experts at all.
History will remember the COVID pandemic as a period in which trusting citizens allowed untrustworthy leaders to arrogate too much power.