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September 19, 2022

President Biden declares the pandemic 'over,' but some experts disagree

Daily Briefing

    President Joe Biden in an interview with "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday said, "the pandemic is over." However, some experts say that while "the end is in sight," the pandemic isn't over yet.

    President Biden says the pandemic is 'over'

    In the interview, Biden pointed to the return of large events and a lack of masking nationwide as proof that the pandemic has ended.

    "We still have a problem with Covid. We're still doing a lot of work on it … but the pandemic is over," he said. "If you notice, no one's wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it's changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it."

    Biden also acknowledged the "impact on the psyche of the American people as a consequence of the pandemic."

    "Think of how that has changed everything," Biden said. "You know, people's attitudes about themselves, their families, about the state of the nation, about the state of their communities. And so there's a lot of uncertainty out there, a great deal of uncertainty. And we lost a million people. A million people to Covid."

    Biden added that when he first was elected, "only 2 million people had been vaccinated. I got 220 million—my point is it takes time. We were left in a very difficult situation. It's been a very difficult time. Very difficult."

    Two senior health officials, who spoke to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity, said that Biden's comment saying the pandemic was over came as a surprise to administration officials.

    Is the pandemic over?

    According to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the United States had more than 2 million Covid-19 cases in the last 28 days, and data from the New York Times shows more than 400 people are dying from Covid-19 in the United States every day.

    "We have a virus out there that's still circulating, still killing hundreds of Americans every day," said Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus coordinator. "I think we all as Americans have to pull together to try to protect Americans … and do what we can to get our health-care system through what might be a difficult fall and winter ahead."

    Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said earlier this year the United States was moving "out of the pandemic phase" with Covid-19, noting that hospitalizations and deaths in the country were at manageable rates.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) still classifies Covid-19 as an international public health emergency, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week said that while the world has not yet gotten past the Covid-19 pandemic, we have "never been in a better position" and "the end is in sight."

    "We can see the finish line. We're in a winning position. But now is the worst time to stop running. Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap the rewards of all our hard work," Tedros said. "If we don't take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty." (Samuels, The Hill, 9/18; Cohen/Cancryn, Politico, 9/18; Falconer, Axios, 9/18; Archie, NPR, 9/19; Diamond, Washington Post, 9/18)

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