As the Biden administration wrestles with the direction of its COVID-19 response, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra is under fire for what critics believe is a lack of leadership. Becerra, who is in charge of the huge department tasked with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the day-to-day administration of the nation’s jumbled health system, is expected to bring together the various health factions into a consistent message on the pandemic.
However, outside health experts and former officials say he’s stepped aside, delegating responsibility to others such as the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Critics say there is a lack of coordinated communication among public health agencies, and part of the problem is the HHS Secretary low profile, as the government faces criticism for confusing messaging and guidelines on matters ranging from masks to booster injections to isolation time.
Experts say the communication blunders were unforced, supporting the idea that the government is unduly reactive rather than proactive. Disagreements between the administration and the public about booster shots erupted in the late summer and fall. The White House set a deadline of Sept. 20 for all Americans to receive booster injections six months following their main immunisation series.