Biden says the pandemic is over, Northland health leaders agree

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 9:18 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) -- In a primetime interview over the weekend, President Joe Biden, when asked if the pandemic was over, responded:

“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.”

Two and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden, saying now, it’s onwards and upwards.

“I think the president is correct, the pandemic is over in the United States,” said Dr. Jon Pryor. “I would say that we move from a pandemic phase, to an endemic phase.”

Dr. Pryor, the President of Essentia Health’s East Market said he agrees with the president’s comment that COVID is still an issue.

“While we’re in the endemic phase right now, it’s conceivable that with new variants it could turn back into a pandemic,” Pryor said.

According to Pryor, around 400 people still die every day in the U.S. from COVID, so continuing precaution is important.

“I think the hospital system is still overburdened with COVID, so I ask the community’s help in maintaining vigilance and safe habits when it comes to maintaining this virus,” said Dr. Pryor.

St. Louis County Public Health Director Amy Westbrook also agrees with President Biden’s statement.

“Definitely we have moved into this different phase of the pandemic, we’re certainly not where we were in our severe illness, in our deaths, even in cases reported,” Westbrook said.

While COVID spread is considered low right now in St. Louis County, Westbrook too cautions things can change at any moment.

“I’m curious to see what the fall and winter brings,” Westbrook said. “The last two years, even when we were in high intense pandemic phase, the summers, we did see a drop in COVID activity.”

Westbrook and Pryor both said continuing to vaccinate, wearing masks when needed, and social distancing when possible, are all things people can do to alleviate the risk of COVID.

Westbrook also said in St. Louis County, about 71% of the general population has received at least one booster or additional COVID-19 vaccine, which is higher than the state rate of 67.2%.