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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was the latest administration official to appear to walk back President Biden’s claim that the COVID pandemic is “over” on Thursday.
Walensky appeared on ABC News to provide an update on booster shots for the coronavirus that she insisted would protect Americans from new variants. Anchor Terry Moran soon pivoted to how she felt about the president’s statement on Sunday.
“You know, here is what I can tell you. We are in a different place. Schools are open. Businesses are open. We have a lot of population immunity out there right now. We have a lot of protection from vaccination already. Deaths are still at 350 a day, but they are way lower than they were a year ago, two years ago at this time,” Walensky said.
She added, “We are continuing to do everything we can, promoting these updated booster shots so that people can get the protection they need while recognizing we are at a much better place than we were a year ago at this time.”
When Moran pressed further on whether the pandemic was over or not, she continued to avoid directly answering the question.
“We continue to encourage people to do all the things they can do to protect themselves. We have the tools right now to protect ourselves. You can get your primary series if you haven’t yet gotten it. You can get year updated fall bivalent vaccine. And then, should you actually get an infection, we have tools like Paxlovid so that you can protect yourself against severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” Walensky said. “If you look at the big picture, things are very different. Hospitals are not overwhelmed. People are back to work. Schools are open again. I think those are critically important metrics.”
“I’ll take that as a no, that it is not entirely over,” Moran responded.
Biden said in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that the pandemic was “over.” An administration official later told CNN on Monday 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.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci also argued on Monday that Biden meant to say that the worst stage of the pandemic is over, but the pandemic is still a concern for Americans.
Walensky announced in August that the CDC is planning a reorganization of the agency after an onslaught of criticism against it following the response to the coronavirus.
Fox News’ Gabriel Hays contributed to this report.