In the early stages of a new administration, most presidents tend to enjoy high public approval ratings. Known as a “honeymoon period,” those initial high marks tend to fade as an administration progresses. That period may be ending sooner than anticipated for Biden as we are experiencing a new wave of pandemic cases here at home, and a crisis in Afghanistan on the other side of the world.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus has been sweeping through the country, leading to a massive increase in cases and hospitalization rates. Delta, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is more than twice as contagious as previous variants. Biden initially had high marks for his handling of the pandemic, but public approval of his handling has shrunk in the wake of Delta. In an NBC News poll, 69 percent of Americans approved of Biden’s handling of the pandemic in April. At the end of August, that number stood at 53 percent.
In addition to Delta, the Biden administration is also grappling with a botched withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. While there is broad support for withdrawing troops, the way it was handled and the chaos on the ground have led to widespread criticism. Afghanistan’s government fell swiftly to the Taliban, and as of August 15, they had captured Kabul, the last major city in Afghanistan that the government still controlled. Since then there has been chaos and violent outbreaks at Kabul’s airport as thousands gather in an attempt to flee the country. According to CNBC News, the U.S. has evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of approximately 37,000 people out of Afghanistan since August 14, but there is a rush to continue to evacuate before the U.S. deadline of a full withdrawal by August 31 (though Biden has said that a full pulling out of Afghanistan could be extended beyond that date). Amanda Macias of CNBC states that thousands of Americans are still believed to be awaiting evacuation.
These two crises pose a challenge for Biden as there is a greater push in the wake of Delta for more people to get vaccinated and for continued daily evacuations of thousands of people from Afghanistan.
Here at home, it is imperative now more than ever to get vaccinated if you have not already done so. Although it is still possible to get the coronavirus if you’re vaccinated, it is far less likely than if you are unvaccinated. Those who are vaccinated are also far less likely to become severely ill or hospitalized, showing that vaccines are still the most powerful tools that we have to combat the virus. Vaccines are widely available at CVS, Walgreens, HEB, Kroger, Walmart, Randall’s — you name it. It is as simple as calling and setting up an appointment.
Places near you with the vaccine can be found at Vaccines.gov.