U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker

The latest wave of COVID-19 came just in time for the holidays, causing headaches for travelers and forcing some families (gratefully, not ours) to cancel family gatherings. This new wave continues to spread rapidly, with more than a million people testing positive in a single day. 

But unlike previous surges, there is reason to hope that this particular strain of COVID may expedite the end of the pandemic. The Omicron variant, as it is known, appears to be highly contagious but also far less deadly than previous variants, allowing for greater immunity to take hold. As immunity spreads, COVID is expected to become less a national problem and more a matter of personal risk assessment, on par with the annual flu. 

Unfortunately, President Biden does not seem ready to pull back on federal intervention. His overbearing mandates seem aimed at eliminating COVID risks completely instead of letting Americans weigh the risks on their own. 

At this point, it is clear that COVID will remain with us. But with vaccines, COVID treatments and natural immunity now widespread, the federal government should be getting out of “crisis” mode. We can adapt and thrive in a world where COVID exists, just as we have adapted to the flu for over 100 years. 

Many Americans have grown frustrated by the ever-shifting goals of our pandemic “experts” – most notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s medical advisor. Initially, Fauci’s goal was to “slow the spread” of COVID so that our health system would not be overwhelmed. Today, his goal seems to be preventing all COVID transmission, insisting that even children ages 3 and up wear masks in school. 

President Biden has also shifted the goalposts. A year ago, he said he opposed vaccine mandates. Now, he is attempting to force two-thirds of the American workforce to get vaccinated under threat of losing their jobs. Mr. Biden also once touted the vaccines as a ticket back to normal life. 

Today, his Administration continues to require masks on airplanes, trains and public buses, regardless of vaccination status. Dr. Fauci even suggested that masks should be required forever on airlines, a level of government overreach most Americans will not tolerate. I believe the public is fast losing patience with Dr. Fauci’s expanding view of executive power, as well as his increasingly combative and dismissive style. 

We can all be grateful for the constitutional checks and balances that are placing limits on the president’s power. 

Shortly after Christmas, President Biden surprisingly admitted that “there is no federal solution” to the pandemic. This was a dramatic shift from his campaign pledge to “shut down” the virus using federal power. But it is also a hopeful sign that the president may be starting to realize what many Americans have long known: that COVID restrictions are best handled at the state and local level. 

President Biden should put this new realization into practice by rescinding his high-handed mandates. It is time for a modest federal approach that allows our nation to adapt to life with COVID. 

Roger Wicker is in his second term in the U.S. Senate. He is a Republican from Pontotoc. 

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