On September 19, 2022, President Joe Biden declared the Covid-19 pandemic as "over." The remarks have been heavily scrutinized since that moment, as new variants and lax efforts threaten to upend the stability that many Americans have been able to maintain in recent months.

Speaking to 60 Minutes, President Biden acknowledged the lingering trouble caused by the pandemic but relented that the time for the mass public to worry about the virus has largely passed.

"We still have a problem with COVID. We're still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over," he said. "If you notice, no one's wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it's changing."

Biden's comments sparked an outpouring of criticism from almost every avenue of the political sphere — Democrats admonished their leader for his naivety, as at the time thousands of Americans were dying from the virus every week — and the trend continues today. Republicans used the opportunity to go after government funding of Covid-19 relief services.

The White House had worked unsuccessfully for months to convince Congress to provide more than $22 billion in new funding for the COVID-19 response. The money would have gone toward stockpiling vaccines and tests, as well as to research and development and the global vaccine response.

Since Biden made his comments, the sentiment has largely shown to be true. A survey conducted by Axios/Ipsos showed that most Americans were not concerned about Covid-19 heading into the 2022 holidays, a stark shift in attitude compared to years prior when winter months implied extra precaution.

While Biden may have declared the pandemic over, public health officials around the country have challenged the notion and deemed it irresponsible. As new variants have continued to emerge, the vaccination rate in America has plateaued, leaving millions vulnerable to infection.

"When you have the president of the U.S. saying the pandemic is over, why would people line up for their boosters? Why would Congress allocate additional funding for these other strategies and tools?" Dr. Celine Gounder, an epidemiologist and senior fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation told NPR. "I am profoundly disappointed. I think this is a real lack of leadership."

Over 10,000 Americans died from Covid-19 in December 2022, according to the CDC. A new, more communicable variant has spread rapidly through the U.S. in recent months, causing concern for the CDC.

In December 2022, the proportion of new Covid-19 infections due to this Omicron offshoot has increased from 4% to 18%, according to a January 6 release from the CDC, and is projected to rise further still. In some parts of the country, XBB.1.5, the new strain, constitutes more than half of all new infections.

According to the World Health Organization, XBB.1.5 is the most transmissible form of Omicron yet, and White House officials have called the jump in transmissions "stunning."

Despite the alarm, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen is attempting to quell the fear the new variant has stirred up. In a conversation with CNN, Dr. Wen urged that young, healthy Americans probably have little to worry about in terms of the new variant, as research suggests it does not inflict severe symptoms.

While Dr. Wen did not dismiss all concerns over XBB.1.5, she continued to state that most PCR tests would be able to detect the strain, most antiviral treatments should work to fight infection, and mass concern should be tempered and focused on individual vulnerability.

Covid-19 is no longer a leading issue for many Americans. As the virus continues to mutate, most studies suggest it will lose its fatal efficacy and simply become more contagious, similar to strains of the flu and common cold. At its height, the pandemic infected every facet of American life, disrupting the economy, shutting down businesses, and keeping people inside their homes.

As 2023 rolls on, it is yet to be seen if America has fully emerged on the other side of the pandemic, but it is safe to say it will remain a part of the consciousness for at least the foreseeable future.