“The pandemic is over,” President Joe Biden said matter-of-factly in a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday night. The impromptu comment immediately drew headlines, as well as criticism from health experts. It also likely raised the anxiety levels of administration officials, who have been striving to promote booster uptake this fall. Some officials described the president’s comment as surprising.
“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it,” Biden immediately noted in the interview. “But the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one’s wearing masks,” he said, referencing the crowds at the auto show in Detroit, where he made the comments. “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.”
Though many in the public health community will argue that the pandemic is objectively not over, the president’s remarks reflect the country’s relationship status with the pandemic, which is a resounding: “It’s complicated.”