(CNN) President Joe Biden just got some deeply unwelcome news: The pandemic that he was elected to end could drag on deep into a midterm election year, with all the political and economic destruction that could bring.
The warning by the government’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, that the crisis won’t be under control until spring of next year — and even then, it will need most American vaccine skeptics to change their minds — came as a severe jolt to a weary nation.
It also meant that Biden’s best-laid plans of triumphing over the pandemic and riding an economic wave into the campaign for congressional election results in November next year now look at risk.
A pandemic that stretches through another grim winter and beyond risks slowing the economic recovery on which Biden is relying for a strong performance next year.
It could demoralize the public and trigger the kind of sour mood among the electorate that always spells danger for incumbents.
Already, the President’s personal approval ratings and public confidence in his management of the pandemic have been ebbing, according to recent NBC and CBS polls.
Biden’s partial declaration of victory over the virus on July Fourth looks highly premature — as do earlier US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxations of mask guidance.
Fauci told CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
“As we get into the spring, we could start getting back to a degree of normality, namely reassuming the things that we were hoping we could do — restaurants, theaters, that kind of thing.”
Most Americans, encouraged by Biden himself, had already expected that kind of normality to be restored and may be in no mood to contemplate months more of deprivation.
The spike in Covid-19 cases that has hit many areas of the country has already turned what was sold as a summer of freedom from the virus into a replay of some of the worst parts of the pandemic