The initial reaction from Dr. Anthony Fauci to the emergence of a new strain of the coronavirus pandemic elicited a collective scream of frustration. 

When ABC News’ ­George Stephanopoulos asked him whether the Omicron version of COVID would prompt a return to devastating lockdowns, President Biden’s chief medical adviser kept his options open, saying, “It’s really too early to say.” 

Fortunately, within a day, the administration changed its tune. When Biden spoke about the Omicron variant on Monday, the president said that when he unveils a new “detailed strategy” for dealing with the disease, it will focus on vaccinations, boosters and testing and “not shutdowns or lockdowns.” 

He’d better keep his word about that, and make sure fearmonger-in-chief Fauci remembers it. The American people are weary from more than 20 months of heavy-handed and often ineffective measures that were supposed to keep them safe. The shutting down of ordinary life and commerce, as well as the schools, didn’t curtail the death toll — which on Biden’s watch has exceeded that of Trump — or prevent the virus from spreading and mutating. 

The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens, but you don’t have to be a libertarian absolutist to have noticed that COVID has been a gift that keeps on giving when it comes to the desire of federal, state and local governments to seize more power to deal with an emergency that never seems to end. 

COVID-19 cases and deaths chart
While cases of COVID-19 have fluctuated over the past two years, the number of deaths has fallen tremendously in places where vaccination rates are high. As this chart of New York City shows, deaths increased along with COVID cases in the summer of 2020. Yet a year later, even as cases spiked, the number of deaths didn’t rise as much. Today, more than 85 percent of adults in the city are vaccinated and the number of deaths over a seven-day average since June has rarely…

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