by Alexis Barton
In a recent interview, President Joe Biden stated simply that the COVID-19 pandemic has come to an end in the United States. Though the question about the current state of the pandemic has been discussed within the public health community, it came as a shock to many for Biden to make such a firm claim regarding the virus. Throughout his presidency, and even during his campaign, Biden has stood firmly in the camp of prioritizing community health over the preferences of individuals regarding issues such as masking and vaccination. However, he has recently chosen to emphasize the importance of moving beyond the pandemic stage of COVID to help create new economic growth and repair communities that were separated during the peak of the pandemic.
Biden’s claim is not inherently incorrect, but it certainly is not indicative of an ideal pandemic recovery in the United States. While life starts to turn back to normal, with the beginning of NFL and college football seasons bringing thousands of people together on a weekly basis, there are still concerns that immunocompromised and unvaccinated individuals continue to be at high risk. The end of the pandemic stage does not indicate that the virus is obsolete. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s Chief Medical Advisor, offered some concerns related to the president’s remarks. In an interview with the Washington Post, Fauci shared that he was, “not comfortable with 400 deaths per day”, in late August (Stolberg, 2022). Biden’s remarks, though based in truth, have the potential of creating further division among the American people as COVID lingers into what many predict will be a new seasonal illness. Biden followed up his comment with the remark that there is still work to be done, but there is little attention to that part of his statement across the nation.
Sound bytes aside, there is a balancing system that comes with transitioning into the endemic stage that Biden alludes to in this interview. As colleges and universities are returning to campus, masking requirements have been few and far between despite cases being on the rise in these communities. A similar trend has happened on Roanoke College’s campus, as the return of students brought a quick spike in COVID cases within the first weeks of the semester. Despite the frustrations of missing class and feeling unwell, this is part of the navigation stage of understanding what life will look like in the coming years. Trials and errors are undoubtedly going to be a part of our future in regard to COVID. This transition phase makes it all the more important to understand how to keep yourself and those around you well. For more information about resources on campus, please reach out to Student Health and Counseling Services.