GOP senator declares ‘pandemic is over’ despite rise in cases across US from dangerous Covid variant BA.5

The White House has warned Americans to protect themselves from the Omicron sub-variant

Gino Spocchia
Tuesday 12 July 2022 19:00 BST
GOP senator declares ‘pandemic is over’ despite large rise in cases across US

Tennessee senator Marsha Blackburn has been rebuked online after she claimed Covid-19 was “over” amid a new spike in cases.

“What we know is the pandemic is over,” she told Fox News on Tuesday morning. “You can get on a plane, you can go without a mask, people are back to work”.

The Republican continued her Fox News appearance by attacking the Biden administration for continuing to oversee the pandemic response at the federal level and added: “This White House wants to declare the pandemic in effect against our US military.”

It was unclear what her comments were specifically in response to, although Republicans have long complained about military members being mandated to be vaccinated against Covid.

Her comments came as the White House prepares to deal with an increase in Covid cases resulting from the BA.5 variant, which now accounts for 65 per cent of all infections the US.

A spokesperson for the Biden administration’s Covid response team said on Tuesday that Americans should also do more to protect themselves from the Omicron sub-variant.

Responding to the senator’s remarks, many social media users said Ms Blackburn was wrong to declare the Covid-19 pandemic over.

“Wrong! Covid up 20% in NYC”, tweeted reporter Ti-Hua Chang.

“This is inaccurate. Either she doesn’t know, or she is deceitful,” another Twitter user wrote. “It’s misleading either way.”

One user, responding to a tweet by Democrat congressman Ted Lieu announcing he had tested positive for Covid, quipped: “Don’t worry Ted. Marsha Blackburn assures everyone COVID is gone!”

Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters at a White House briefing on Tuesday that the “BA.5 and BA.4 subvariants together accounted for more than 80% of circulating variants last week” and that “the seven-day average of daily COVID-19 hospital admissions has doubled in the United States since early May,” per Reuters.

Death remains a low risk for those who are vaccinated however, and the Biden administration has reportedly considered rolling-out a second round of booster shots for the most vulnerable.

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