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Biden team finds promises hard to make -- let alone keep

February 19, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 20.8%. 2 min read.

Speaking on television last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted April would be "open season" for receiving the coronavirus vaccine, welcome news for a nation entering its second year under pandemic-forced lockdowns and ever-lingering fear of disease.

A week later, the timeline had moved back at least one month -- possibly two -- laying bare the risks for President Joe Biden and his administration in making precise promises amid a crisis that defies easy solutions or clean answers.

On key questions -- such as when every American who wants a vaccine can get one, when all students can return to classrooms and when life can gain a semblance of normalcy -- Biden has either demurred or offered only a partial projection, admitting he does not want to over-commit and later be held to blame.

"That was predicated on J&J -- the Johnson product -- having considerably more doses than now we know they're going to have," Fauci said this week in explaining his initial April target, adding he now believes restrictions for who's eligible for a vaccine will fall off in "mid-to-late May and early June. "

Biden's aides say he is being realistic amid an unpredictable and unprecedented health crisis, and does not want to raise Americans' hopes when they could easily be dashed again by manufacturing snafus, reemerging variants or other unseen hiccups in returning the country to normal.

"Be careful not to predict things that you don't know for certain what's going to happen because then you'll be held accountable," Biden said during CNN's town hall on Tuesday, describing the advice he said he'd received from health experts such as Fauci.

A day after Biden's town hall, however, the White House said even Biden's Christmastime prediction shouldn't be taken as an absolute commitment.

The White House stance on reopening schools became muddled when Psaki, in explaining Biden's pledge, said that could mean only 50% of schools open one day a week.

Later she said that was "not the ceiling" of the administration's aspirations, and Biden said Tuesday the confusing White House position came down to "a mistake in the communication. "

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