Not a moment too soon!
On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced the launch of a new, one stop website for all the American public’s coronavirus needs — an objectively nice development that would have been even better had it not come in the year 2022, more than 800 days after the first case of COVID-19 (so named for the fact that it was initially classified way back in 2019) was confirmed in the United States.
Still, better late than never, I suppose, and we might as well celebrate the fact that the White House created this extremely obvious resource in the first place. Would it have been nice if the government had maybe done this, golly, a year ago? Sure, okay, yes, but let’s not nitpick. It’s here now, and honestly, it seems ... pretty good?
As the Biden administration trumpeted in a press release announcing the new site, COVID.gov will “help people access vaccines, tests, treatments, and high-quality masks,” and “also provides people an easy way to find the level of COVID-19 in their community.”
Key to the new website is its “Test-to-Treat” locator feature, which Biden first introduced in his State of the Union speech at the beginning of March. That program connects users with COVID testing sites where, if they are confirmed to have the virus, they can receive immediate medication to treat the infection at one of the approximately 2,000 current participating sites.
“We could not have done this six or eight months ago because we didn’t have all the tools we have now,” outgoing White House COVID adviser Jeff Zientz said to NPR this week, before seemingly contradicting that assertion by telling the outlet “the nation’s medicine cabinet is full of effective treatments, we have free at-home tests, high-quality masks, vaccines, and boosters all available, so the website brings all these tools together and makes it convenient.”
Indeed, aside from the newly launched Test-to-Treat initiative, the COVID.gov website’s main draw seems to be the simple fact that it aggregates in a single spot a suite of existing, if disparate, pandemic resources. Which raises the question: What took so long? Sure, it’s probably too much to hope that the Trump administration would have gotten its act together enough to create a coherent pandemic compendium, but the Biden White House is in no small part predicated on being efficiently competent — something it demonstrated to decent (but by no means perfect) effect nearly four months ago when it belatedly launched its portal for the public to order at-home testing kits.
So, by all means, let’s applaud the new website for what it is: an easy-to-use, comprehensive, straightforward portal for people to find things that were otherwise scattered across the latticework of federal homepages and databases. That’s good! But it’s 2022, nearly a million people have died of COVID in the United States, and congressional wheeling and dealing has left the government’s COVID funding an insufficient shell of its previous insufficient shell. A website is nice and all, but at this point in the pandemic it’s hard to get all that excited about something that should have happened years ago.