Biden says ‘the pandemic is over’ — What do OU students believe?

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Autumn Okuszka, Features Reporter

On Sept. 14, President Joe Biden visited the Detroit Auto Show with 60 Minutes and was interviewed on a wide range of topics — from rising gas prices to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Huntington Place center — where the auto show takes place — was packed with people for the first time in three years, which caused Biden to reflect on where the United States currently stands within the pandemic. 

“The pandemic is over,” Biden said. “We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it, 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 [the Detroit Auto Show returning after three years] is a perfect example of it.”

Nearly 50 thousand people are still testing positive, and almost 400 Americans are dying daily from COVID-19 on average. In Michigan, over two thousand people are testing positive, with over 20 people dying daily on average. 

Oakland University freshman Madyson Berlanga thought the pandemic was settling down — until she tested positive for COVID-19. 

“It was pretty crazy,” Berlanga said. “I never really thought [the pandemic] was over, but I knew the numbers went down drastically. I don’t think it’s over because I just had it.”

Graduate student Brisilda Musaka has not tested positive, but she still sees cases of COVID-19 firsthand as an ER tech. 

“We still see the severity,” Musaka said. “It’s better than it was before, but we’re still in the pandemic.”

Musaka believes that U.S. citizens still need to work on protecting themselves — not only from COVID-19, but also from other respiratory illnesses such as the flu.

“Flu season is coming around,” she said. “I work with kids a lot at work, [and] we’ve been seeing an increase now of respiratory illnesses in kids — critical ones, too. We need to become more aware of what’s going on in that aspect, as well. We need to protect ourselves [and] protect everyone that’s around us, because even if COVID [is] over, you still need to worry about everything else.”

In a recent study done by the Institut Public de Sondage d’Opinion Secteur (Ipsos), nearly 65% of people said that there is little to no risk in returning to their normal, pre-COVID life.

Junior Karsen Biebel believes this return is overdue. 

“I’d say it’s pretty much over,” Biebel said. “People are mostly getting on with their lives, and they’re pretty tired of it by now.” 

While Biebel believes the pandemic is over, sophomore Austin Scruggs thinks that for COVID-19 to become a thing of the past, the virus itself should be gone. 

“I don’t think it’s ever going to be gone,” Scruggs said. “I think it’s always going to be around. It’s just going to be one of those things you just have to adapt to.”

While OU’s mask mandate was eliminated at the beginning of the fall semester, the vaccine mandate is still in effect until further notice. If students are experiencing any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, they are asked to not come to campus and to get tested as soon as possible.