WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Joe Biden has drawn criticism for saying the COVID-19 pandemic "is over" even as the coronavirus continues to take hundreds of lives across the country a day.
"The pandemic is over," Biden said during an appearance on a CBS program, 60 Minutes, which was recorded when he visited the Detroit Auto Show in Michigan earlier this month.
Though Biden acknowledged that the United States still has "a problem with COVID," he doubled down on the statement that "the pandemic is over," stressing that "if you notice, no one's wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape."
PANDEMIC "NOT OVER"
The Washington Post penned an editorial this week in response to Biden's comments, writing straightforwardly that "the pandemic is surely not over."
"The pandemic is still raging -- in the sense that a dangerous virus is infecting, sickening and killing people, mutating to survive and haunting the globe," the article wrote. "The pandemic has shifted -- and normalcy has returned in many ways -- but it is not over."
The seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 deaths in the United States is over 350 while nearly 60,000 infections have been reported each day, according to the latest COVID data tracker weekly review released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In total, the United States has seen nearly 96 million COVID-19 cases and more than 1 million related deaths. Both numbers remain the highest in the world.
Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, a nonprofit American medical research institution, wrote in an opinion piece published by the Los Angeles Times that "all the data tell us the virus is not contained" in the United States, as "far too many people are dying and suffering."
Topol pointed out that actual new infections are "a multiple of" registered numbers considering the untested and unreported cases, arguing that "the virus is still fulfilling its principal objective of finding a huge number of new or repeat hosts to help spread and perpetuate itself."
"We will remain vulnerable if we pretend the pandemic is over," he warned.
Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at the George Washington University School, tweeted that the United States is "still in a pandemic" if "hundreds of thousands of people are becoming infected every day and thousands are dying every week."
Due to COVID-19, the average life expectancy of Americans fell in 2020 and 2021, the sharpest two-year decline in nearly a century, according to a report published by the CDC in late August.
Besides, the virus has become the third-leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer, said the CDC, while "long COVID" -- defined as symptoms lasting three or more months after first contracting the virus -- continues to impact the life and work of millions of Americans.
A group of protesters -- including those suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), due to "long COVID" -- demonstrated outside the White House this week, calling out Biden for his remarks about the pandemic.
"We are sick and disabled with ME/CFS and long COVID but we are here today, putting our bodies on the line, to tell President Biden that the pandemic is not over, (and) that millions of us are being disabled from post-viral disease, and we need urgent action from our government," said Ben HsuBorger, a person with ME/CFS.
"COVID death and disability continues to heavily impact Black, Latin, Indigenous and low-income communities. We are not in 'pretty good shape,' and we will not forget that President Biden is throwing us away with his denial of the pandemic," said Claudia Carrera, a person with ME/CFS.
Steven Thrasher, a journalism professor at Northwestern University, tweeted that he believes Biden's assertion that the COVID-19 pandemic is over is both "reckless" and "irresponsible."
Thrasher also expressed concern that many businesses, state and local governments, no-profits, and educational institutions across the United States would "end all attempts at mitigation, support, and care" as a result of the remarks.
Lawrence Gostin, director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and professor at Georgetown Law, tweeted that he's worried that members of the public may relax masking and even delay getting vaccinated.
"As we move to respiratory virus season & launch a vaccine campaign, we must urge vigilance," Gostin said. ■