According to reports, the public health emergency will finally end in May, and the COVID response team at the White House will be disbanded. But does that mean the government is admitting the pandemic is over? Well, it looks like they want credit for ending the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean they’re admitting it’s over.
During the 2020 campaign, there was no bigger issue than the COVID-19 pandemic, and Joe Biden was determined to be remembered as the president who ended it, making repeated promises that he would “shut down the virus.” But the chance for Joe Biden to establish himself as the conqueror of COVID-19 has long passed. While most Americans have resumed their normal lives, it is not because of his efforts; it’s despite them.
But the Biden administration hopes to establish a different narrative.
“As a result of this administration’s historic response to Covid-19, we as a nation are in a safer, better place than we were three years ago,” a senior administration official told the Washington Post. “Covid no longer disrupts our lives because of investments and our efforts to mitigate its worst impacts.”
Of course, the administration is trying to have it both ways, essentially declaring victory over COVID, while refusing to admit the pandemic is actually over.
“Covid is not over, fighting it remains an administration priority, and transitioning out of the emergency phase is the natural evolution of the Covid response,” the administration official said.
But the administration deserves no credit whatsoever. In fact, this is not the first time we’ve seen the administration essentially declare victory over COVID.
When Biden took office, two vaccines had already been approved for emergency use, with another soon following, and COVID-19 cases were trending downwards. Desperate to declare victory over COVID and reap the political benefits, on July 4, 2021, less than six months after he took office, Biden declared our “independence” from COVID. Things would eventually blow up in his face as the virus made a resurgence shortly after, with hospitalizations and deaths reaching their highest levels ever.
Related: 5 Ways Joe Biden Made the COVID Pandemic Worse
Things got so bad that Biden attempted to absolve himself of any responsibility for ending the pandemic. In December 2021, he declared, “There is no federal solution [to COVID]. This gets solved at a state level.” It was a telling flip-flop for Biden, who had previously demanded that governors “get out of the way” of federal efforts in the fight against COVID. In other words, five months after declaring independence from COVID, he essentially conceded defeat by shifting blame and responsibility for ending the pandemic to America’s governors.
Do you think this stopped him from trying to get credit for ending COVID? Guess again. Last September, Joe Biden declared during an interview on 60 Minutes that the COVID-19 pandemic was over.
“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta 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.”
Does that sound familiar? It’s almost exactly what the administration is saying now. But Biden’s remark at the time was not part of any pre-approved messaging from the White House and contradicted remarks from administration officials, which needed the pandemic state of emergency to stay in place and maintain legal standing for various measures, such as the student loan payment pause.
So, I can’t help being skeptical that the Biden administration will let go of its emergency powers. They seem determined to declare victory while still fighting the war.