President Joe Biden made several unequivocal and controversial statements in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday.
There was some ambiguity about a number of other topics.
- His plan is to be re-elected in 2024, but no final decision has been made yet.
- About the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, Biden said he has not seen or inquired about which documents the FBI found, but his records have been read in full as it pertains to national security secrets.
- As for inflation, he wouldn’t promise it will fall, but he did argue that it will be brought under control.
To say Biden rarely gives extended interviews is an understatement.
The American leader often talks to reporters, but almost never holds press conferences or long interviews.
That makes his interview, which was conducted last week and aired Sunday on CBS’ ’60 Minutes’, worth pondering and we could have devoted an entire newsletter to each of the above topics.
The White House felt the need to make it clear about the pandemic and about China and Taiwan that Biden’s words did not equate to a policy change.
Given how emphatically Biden has declared the pandemic over, let’s take a look at that.
“The pandemic is over,” Biden told CBS’s Scott Pelley as they walked around the Detroit Auto Show last week. “We still have a problem with Covid. We are still working on it. … But the pandemic is over.”
He added, pointing to the floor of the car show: “When you notice that no one is wearing masks. Everyone seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing. And I think this is a perfect example of that.”
It’s a complicated stance for Biden to take, given that, as CNN’s report points out, the US government still declares Covid-19 a public health emergency and will continue to do so until at least October 13, when that statement. may need to be extended .
Biden is right that there is more work to be done. His administration is asking for additional money from Congress to help develop vaccines, among other things and Biden’s statement could remove a residual urgency among lawmakers.
Republicans on Capitol Hill said Monday that Biden’s words will essentially close the door on approving new money.
“When it’s over, I wouldn’t suspect they need any more money,” Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn and party leadership member told CNN’s Manu Raju.
There is a marked slowdown among Americans getting vaccine booster shots. Most of the country is vaccinated, but less than half of those who qualify have it received an initial booster, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opinion polls suggest that some parents of children under 5 who are now eligible for the vaccine are skeptical about getting it for their children. Forty-three percent of those parents said they definitely wouldn’t get their child vaccinated, according to a July Kaiser Family Foundation survey.
Vaccines, in addition to booster shots, may not completely stop the infection, but they are still the best way to prevent a serious Covid-19 outcome, such as hospitalization or death.
There are tens of thousands of documented cases of Covid-19 every month and hundreds of deaths every day, figures that the CDC expects it to remain stable rather than fall or peak.
US officials have flirted with explaining the pandemic before. dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser and outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in April the country was “out of the pandemic phase.”
A day later, he told CNN that his comments had been mischaracterized and that he did not want to say the pandemic was over.
Fauci and other experts have long said the US should live with the virus. That seems to be what is happening now, as there have been multiple developments in the intervening months.
- Immunity declines over time, but almost every American now has some level of immunity, either from previous infection or vaccination.
- The CDC ended recommendations for social distancing and quarantine as means of virus control and eased mitigation recommendations for schools.
- Treatments such as the antiviral Paxlovid, which Biden took when he contracted Covid-19 over the summer, have helped reduce the number of deaths.
- People are still dying: an average of 425 a day and more than 13,000 in the past month, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s too much. But it was far from a year ago when the daily average of deaths was well above 2,000.
Whether the pandemic is officially over or not, Americans continue to return to more normal lives. Most Americans, 57%, said in an Axios-Ipsos survey released this month that they are at least somewhat concerned about the virus. But a minority, 28%, said they had taken social distancing in the past week. A slightly larger minority, 37%, say they have worn a mask more than occasionally. And a large majority, 64%, said they had eaten out.
Nearly half, 46%, said they had returned to their pre-Covid-19 lifestyle.
Biden clearly sees ending the pandemic as a key to his presidency and blames it at least in part on how voters view him.
When Pelley asked Biden why his presidential approval rating was “well below 50%,” Biden almost immediately pointed to uncertainty due to the pandemic.
Biden: I think you would agree that the impact on the psyche of the American people as a result of the pandemic is huge. Think how that changed everything. You know, people’s attitudes about themselves, their families, about the state of the nation, about the state of their communities. And so there is a lot of uncertainty, a lot of uncertainty.
He added that America has passed 1 million deaths from Covid-19.
“My point is that it takes time. We were left in a very difficult situation. it has been a very difficult time. Very difficult.”