Is Biden Right About Pandemic Being Over? State of COVID-19 in NJ
President Biden's recent comments about the pandemic being over have sparked some concern that the public wouldn't continue to take proactive measures.
“The pandemic is over — We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over,” Biden said in responding to a question during a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday on CBS.
COVID in New Jersey
New Jersey has confirmed 2.3 million cases of COVID-19 in the roughly two and a half years since the virus was reported in New Jersey.
Out of the state’s confirmed cases, 133,682 COVID patients have at some point been hospitalized.
Over the more than two and a half years since the first known COVID cases in New Jersey, roughly 31.3 million total PCR test results have been processed and reported across the state.
Over the same time span from March 2020 through September, there have been 31,577 total confirmed deaths linked to COVID, with another 3,112 total probable deaths.
New phase of the pandemic
“We are entering a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic where most Americans could be protected against serious illness with a single, annual vaccine. It’s nothing new – it’s what we do with the flu,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday before Biden's "60 Minutes" interview aired.
What Gov. Murphy said after Biden's comments
Gov. Phil Murphy did not address the president's pandemic comment directly but shared a photo after receiving his latest COVID vaccine booster on Saturday along with first lady Tammy Murphy.
“Just received my COVID booster with @FirstLadyNJ at today’s Nurture NJ Family Festival in Newark! These new boosters offer outstanding protection and are key to our continued fight against COVID,” Murphy said in a tweet.
Better equipped — but not free from COVID?
“While science has helped to advance our management of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, the disease is still very much evident in our U.S. population,” Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, said in a written statement on Tuesday.
“This is in great part due to human behaviors and motivations — including subpar vaccination uptake — which continue to place all of us at risk for infection. So, while we are better equipped to control this virus biologically, we are by no means free of it,” he continued.
People are still dying
Following the 60 Minutes interview, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra was asked about the country’s status with COVID.
“Make no mistake — people are still dying. And, what the president is saying is that we all want to get back to where we were before COVID,” Becerra said in a clip aired by CBS News.
“My concern also is that some will interpret the concept of the pandemic ending to mean there is no more disease,” Halkitis said.
“Indeed, we are moving in the correct direction, but COVID-19 is now endemic to many nations around the world for the foreseeable future, which means people will continue to become infected and some will die — especially those who do not engage in proactive vaccination behaviors.”
Impact of vaccinations on COVID pandemic
Unvaccinated people had three times the risk of infection and three times the risk of hospitalization than those who had been fully vaccinated with at least one additional dose or booster, according to the state Department of Health, as of late August.
“The virus doesn’t outsmart us; we as people allow it to spread and persist," Halkitis added.
State health officials are continuing to push for COVID vaccination and booster shots alongside flu shots, as the fall season ramps up.