In an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, President Biden declared that the COVID-19 pandemic was over. Yet the federal government maintains many of the powers it wielded during the height of the pandemic, drawing criticism from Republicans and those who believe the state should be relinquishing its authority over large swaths of American life.
In response to Biden’s declaration, Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) tweeted, “If ‘the pandemic is over’ as Biden says, then all of the president’s emergency powers predicated on a pandemic, all COVID vax mandates, the emergency powers of every governor, emergency use authorizations, and the PREP act should all be voided tomorrow.”
Similarly, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) tweeted, “Biden admitted last night that the COVID pandemic is over. In other words, there is no ‘ongoing emergency’ to justify his proposal for student loan handouts.”
Biden’s statement has also been questioned by his own side of the aisle, and many in his administration are attempting to temper his remarks.
The Washington Post reports that “Biden’s remarks caught some senior officials off guard.” Anonymous administration officials told the Post they were concerned the president’s statement would make it harder for the administration to persuade Americans to get shots or secure new money from Congress. The White House is seeking an additional $22 billion from Congress to fight the pandemic, according to the New York Times.
“When you have the president of the U.S. saying the pandemic is over, why would people line up for their boosters? Why would Congress allocate additional funding for these other strategies and tools?” said Dr. Celine Gounder, an epidemiologist and senior fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation. “I am profoundly disappointed. I think this is a real lack of leadership.”
CNN reports it was told by an administration official that “the President’s comments do not mark a change in policy toward the administration’s handling of the virus, and there are no plans to lift the Public Health Emergency, which has been in place since January 2020 and is currently extended through October 13.”
The CDC no longer recommends unvaccinated people quarantine after exposure, reports Reuters. Around 95% of the U.S. population has either been vaccinated, had COVID-19 already, or both, according to the CDC.