NEW YORK (The Hill) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday sought to clarify his comments from days earlier that the coronavirus pandemic “is over,” telling guests at a fundraiser that the COVID-19 situation is not as bad as it was.
Biden attended a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York City ahead of his speech Wednesday to the United Nations General Assembly. At one point, speaking about efforts on the pandemic, Biden referenced his comments to Scott Pelley of CBS last week in which he said the pandemic was “over.”
Biden acknowledged he was “criticized” for the remarks, adding, “But it basically is not where it was.”
The president also urged those in attendance to get their booster shots if they have not already.
Biden drew heat from public health experts and some lawmakers for his remarks to “60 Minutes” at the Detroit Auto Show last week, which was the first time the event was able to be held at full capacity since the onset of the pandemic.
“The pandemic is over,” he told the program. “We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. It’s — but the pandemic is over. 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.”
The United States is still recording an average of more than 400 deaths per day from COVID-19, according to New York Times data, and more than 1 million Americans have died from the virus since the pandemic began in early 2020.
Highly contagious variants have spread throughout the globe, making it nearly impossible to fully eradicate COVID-19.
As a result, the Biden administration has focused its messaging on the importance of getting vaccinated and receiving booster shots to increase immunity, as well as the wide availability of antiviral pills and other forms of treatment for those who contract the virus.
Tuesday’s fundraiser featured roughly 100 guests and raised nearly $2 million for the Democratic National Committee. Attendees included New York Mayor Eric Adams and actor Robert De Niro.