President Biden declared the COVID-19 pandemic “over” during an interview that aired Sunday night — and immediately sparked a bitter backlash from progressives and liberal Democrats.
Biden repeatedly asserted that the pandemic was in the nation’s rear-view mirror while speaking to CBS’ “60 Minutes” at the Detroit Auto Show last week.
“The pandemic is over,” he said.
“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.”
Walking through the Huntington Place convention center, Biden also told correspondent Scott Pelley, “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.”
Progressive commentators used social media to lash out at the president over his remarks, with MSNBC host Medhi Hasan accusing Biden of lying to the American public.
“One of the (many) reasons they’re not wearing masks is because people like Biden keep (falsely) telling them the pandemic is over,” Hasan tweeted.
Progressive Democratic Kentucky state Rep. Attica Scott expressed outrage that mainstream members of her party “keep playing these games with our lives.”
“You don’t get to just declare a global pandemic over, Mr. @POTUS,” Scott wrote.
Former Democratic Ohio state senator Nina Turner, a senior fellow at the progressive Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy, also rejected Biden’s assertion.
“The pandemic isn’t over,” Turner said.
“We are over the pandemic. The pandemic is not over with us. Big distinction.”
Experts also took Biden to task, with Dr. James Hamblin, a lecturer in public health policy at Yale University, saying that mask-wearing wasn’t an accurate gauge of whether the deadly virus was still spreading.
“A pandemic isn’t like bootcut jeans where you look around at what people are wearing and declare it over,” Hamblin tweeted.
Dr. Erif Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and former Harvard University faculty member, responded to Biden with an emphatic, “Heck no.”
“With all due respect, @JoeBiden — you’re wrong. Pandemic is not over. Almost 3,000 Americans are dying from #COVID19 every single week,” he wrote.
“A weekly 9/11 is a very big deal. Don’t even get me started on #LongCOVID—wreaking havoc on millions more.”
Feigl-Ding also followed up hours later, tweeting, “I’m still shaking my head at what Biden says. If he only knew how much I stuck my head out and sacrificed for him in 2020…”
Dr. Megan Ranney, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, even used one of Biden’s favorite phrases to rebut him.
“Is the pandemic DIFFERENT? Sure,” she wrote.
“But over?! With 400 deaths a day?! I call malarkey.”
Politico reported that Biden’s assertion wasn’t part of his planned remarks and caught several of his own health officials by surprise, citing administration officials familiar with the matter.
Biden’s off-the-cuff comments have frequently landed him in hot water during his more than 50 years in politics and he acknowledged being a “gaffe machine” while running for the White House in 2018.