President Joe Biden is telling Americans life with COVID-19 is going to get better but the virus is likely “here to stay,” as the latest variant registers record high infection rates in the United States.
“Having COVID in the environment and in the world is probably here to stay, but COVID as we’re dealing with it now is not here to stay,” Biden said Friday when asked if he thought COVID-19 would be in people’s lives forever. “We are going to be able to control this. The new normal is not going to be what it is now. It’s going to be better.”
The nation is seeing record high cases as the highly contagious omicron strain rips through communities. The United States recorded about 1 million new cases a day this week — more than any other country in the world has reported. Hospitalization rates have also reached new heights, overwhelming medical providers, though death rates have remained stable so far.
This week, former White House advisers wrote a paper urging for a national strategy that acknowledges COVID-19 as part of the “new normal.” Biden seemed to acknowledge that view Friday, saying the virus would continue to exist in the environment, but that the United States would push for measures to contain it.
High case loads paired with persistent testing shortages and legal battles brought on by conservative groups against the administration’s public health measures have put a strain on the White House’s COVID-19 response. The country seemed to be caught off guard by the omicron variant.
Meanwhile, cancellations across industries, from air travel to live entertainment, have stoked fears of another lockdown similar to the start of the pandemic two years ago.
And while the vast majority of schools remain open for in-person learning, staffing shortages and high case loads have forced some school districts and universities to temporarily shut down or go back to virtual learning.
Biden and the White House have actively pushed back against that narrative that the country is reverting back to the early days of the pandemic.
“We have so many more tools we are developing and continue to develop that can contain COVID and other strains of COVID,” Biden said. “If you take a look, we are very different today than we were a year ago even though we still have problems.”
The ways those tools will be implemented, however, is still up in the air.