Critics are ripping President Joe Biden and his chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, for imposing a “worse than useless” travel ban on eight southern African countries as a means of preventing the spread of the newly discovered “omicron” COVID-19 variant.
“No worries, travel ban begins next week because you know, variants don’t spread on holiday weekends,” GOP Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky noted mockingly. “Who really believes this variant isn’t already here?”
The pushback comes following an executive order last week in which Biden banned travel to the U.S. from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, but only after a Fauci-approved weekend delay, which some saw as pointless.
“Why do people still take this man seriously?” New York City Councilman Joe Borelli (R-SI)., the new minority leader, said. “Either this is a life or death emergency, or it doesn’t need to happen. It seems like this is a lockdown for the sake of lockdowns.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 House Republican, also blasted “the stunning hypocrisy of Democrats” over the past 20 months regarding pandemic-related travel bans.
“When President Trump took bold and decisive action in February 2020 to impose travel restrictions into the United States from coronavirus hot spots, Joe Biden attacked him, calling this decision a disgrace and xenophobic,” said Stefanik, who — like other Republicans — has called for Fauci to be fired over the gain-of-function funding controversy.
Also, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) labeled the travel ban “worse than useless.”
“Joe Biden and Tony Fauci push crushing restrictions on Americans—like masking two-year-olds—that are pointless,” Cotton noted Saturday on Twitter. “But when it comes to targeted travel bans to protect American citizens, it’s nothing but incompetence and half measures from this White House.”
Joe Biden and Tony Fauci push crushing restrictions on Americans—like masking two-year-olds—that are pointless.
But when it comes to targeted travel bans to protect American citizens, it's nothing but incompetence and half measures from this White House.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) November 27, 2021
AIDS activist James Krellenstein also ripped Fauci, who is also the head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, over failing to fund or sponsor genetic sequencing studies that could help uncover new variants before they spread.
“In the rare cases where travel bans work, it’s when we can detect the spread of a new variant extremely quickly,” tweeted Krellenstein.
Its why a lot of us are so pissed at Fauci about this. We (myself including) have been yelling for months for @NIAIDNews to increase funding for global sequencing coverage. Tony doesn't do this, then he implements a travel ban that will do nothing. FIN
— James Krellenstein (@jbkrell) November 27, 2021
“It’s why a lot of us are so pissed at Fauci,” he added. “We (myself including) have been yelling for months for NIAID to increase funding for global sequencing coverage. Tony doesn’t do this, then he implements a travel ban that will do nothing.”
Meanwhile, the researcher who discovered the omicron variant says there really isn’t much to worry about in terms of it being very dangerous.
South African Dr. Angelique Coetzee is urging calm, saying that patients who contract the new variant are only experiencing “extremely mild symptoms.”
“Their symptoms were so different and so mild from those I had treated before,” she said, adding “currently there’s no reason for panicking as we don’t see severely ill patients.”
“The most predominant clinical complaint is severe fatigue for one or two days, with then the headache and the body aches and pain. Some of them will have what they call a scratchy throat and some will have a cough — a dry cough, but it’s not a constant cough, it comes and goes. And that’s more or less the big symptoms that we have seen,” Coetzee added.