President Biden said late Sunday that COVID-19 remains a challenge, but he thinks the pandemic stage is over.
“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. It’s — but the pandemic is over,” Mr. Biden said in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
Mr. Biden’s comments are part of a shift from treating the coronavirus as a manageable threat instead of a hair-on-fire crisis.
Roughly 30,000 people are hospitalized for the virus in the U.S., a low level compared to the rest of the crisis, which began in early 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance in recent months to focus on severe disease instead of routine testing, strict quarantines and physical distancing.
The White House says it needs new funding from Congress to keep the virus in check, though Mr. Biden’s assertion that the pandemic is over could complicate his bid for $22 billion in a short-term spending measure lawmakers are considering to avoid a government shutdown.
Republicans were leery of providing billions more for the response because the Biden team was able to shift funds from other pots of money earlier in the year.
Experts say there is no formal mechanism for declaring an end to the pandemic phase, so it is more of a state of mind or assertion by leaders.
The U.S. still designates COVID-19 as a public health emergency and the World Health Organization considers it a public health emergency of international concern, though WHO’s chief recently said the pandemic phase is coming to a close.
“Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from Covid-19 was the lowest since March 2020,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We’re not there yet, but the end is in sight.”
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.