by Ryan McMaken, Mises Institute:
On 60 Minutes last Sunday, President Biden declared “the pandemic is over,” but quickly added “we still have a problem with COVID, we’re still doing a lot of work on it.”
Biden then reiterated: “But the pandemic is over” and his evidence was the fact “no one’s 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 it.”
Biden’s prevaricating position that “it’s over” but “we still have a problem” is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the regime when it comes to covid. After all, the Biden administration still enthusiastically supports the Pentagon’s vaccine mandates and in the federal courts the administration continues to push for a variety of federal mandates including air-travel mask mandates and various federal education programs such as Head Start. The feds still want forced vaccines for federal contractors. Travel to the United States still requires proof of vaccination. The federal government is even expected to announce “at least one additional extension to the current emergency.”
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In other words, the administration certainly isn’t acting like the “pandemic is over” in terms of actual policy.
Nevertheless, Biden in his public comments is contradicting the experts on which the administration relied so heavily to fan the flames of the regime’s beloved Covid Panic. As Fortune‘s Erin Prater showed this week, the usual guardians of covid “science” are hardly in agreement with Biden that the pandemic is over. Michael Osterholm at the Center for Infectious disease Research says it too soon to tell if the pandemic is over. Biden’s comments were “not well thought through,” Osterholm says. Meanwhile, Georges Benjamin of the American Public Health Association says that the president “clearly misspoke” and “we need to be really clear that the pandemic is not over.”
At least these people are being consistent. According to the CDC’s own statistics, more than 300 people have died of covid per day in recent weeks, and “community transmission” is still listed as high in most of the US. Daily new cases are still where they were throughout much of 2020 and 2021.
It’s not hard to see why the administration has suddenly forgotten about all the alleged science that policymakers repeatedly flogged to demand support for countless state and federal mandates for forced vaccines, lockdowns, and business closures. The regime’s current ruling coalition, the Democratic party, is afraid of losing big time in the November elections, so it also wants to tell people about how wonderful everything is. If there were not an election two months from now, it’s safe bet we’d instead be hearing all about how terrible the pandemic is.
But, there is an election, and that means Biden has to be out there talking about how the pandemic is no big deal, that everyone should stop complaining about inflation, and that things are fine.
Most Ordinary Americans Declared the Pandemic Over Many Months Ago
Winning elections, after all, requires at least somewhat aligning the party’s public positions with existing public opinion in the lead up to election day.
And that’s exactly what Biden is doing. There aren’t enough committed freak-out-about-covid ideologues left to assure the party of victory. Only in certain left-leaning strongholds does a sizable portion of the voting public actually regard “the pandemic” as a priority. Yes, one will continue to encounter many true believers in the Bay Area, or in New York City, or in Martha’s Vineyard. And, naturally, this attitude prevails in countless University towns across the nation, where, amazingly, university pencil pushers are still enforcing vaccine mandates. Pandemic panic also remains popular among corporate elites whose primary concern in 2022 is apparently all about being loyal soldiers for the regime.
In most of the real world, however, which includes at least half the American voting public, people have long since moved beyond this. Virtually no one is wearing masks anymore, isolating in case of “possible exposure,” or lining up to get the next booster. That sort of thing may seem normal in California or at City Hall in Chicago, but few ordinary people are listening to the usual harangues offered up by health bureaucrats anymore.
More importantly, it’s extremely unlikely that were Biden to go on television and announce that “the pandemic is really bad now, guys!” that many people would listen.
Pandemics End When the Public Says They Do
So, we’re now seeing the pandemic end exactly the way we expected it to. According to the government-funded hive of health researchers, the pandemic is still not over, and they’re still saying “not so fast!” But in, practice, the pandemic is over because people believe it is over.
Back in 2020, we here at Mises.org published a column called “Pandemics Are Over When the Public Decides They’re Over,” exploring this phenomenon of the disconnect between the “official” pandemic, and the pandemic in practice. The conclusion was exactly what the title suggests. If the public is finished going along with the regime’s “pandemic measures,” the pandemic is functionally over. As The New York Times explained in May 2020: