Biden says the US is on the ‘right track’ in managing the pandemic as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reach record levels

Joe Biden speaking to reporters
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 11, 2022 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • Biden says he’s confident the US is on the “right track” in its effort to manage COVID-19.
  • Meanwhile, the US reported 1.35 million cases on Monday and a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday.
  • Experts say the surge, linked to the omicron variant, could peak in the next few weeks. 

President Joe Biden on Tuesday told reporters at the White House that he’s confident the US is on the “right track” in its effort to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am concerned about the pandemic just because worldwide it is not slowing up very much,” Biden said. “But I’m confident we’re on the right track.”

Meanwhile, the US reported 1.35 million new COVID-19 infections on Monday, according to Reuters, which marks the highest daily total of any country worldwide. 

Tthe US also broke a record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, with a total of 145,982 people with COVID-19 in hospitals across the country, The Washington Post reported. The previous record — 142,273 — was set on January 14, 2021, per The Post.

Amid a surge in cases and hospitalizations linked to the highly contagious omicron variant, the Biden administration has faced criticism from health experts and lawmakers over issues with testing availability as well as the rollout of new isolation guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There’s also fresh evidence that omicron could harm the economy, with millions of Americans reportedly staying home from work. Two percent of the workforce called out sick last week, according to a projection from Capitol Economics.

The Biden administration, along with top public health experts, continues to urge people to get COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots. There’s a strong, growing body of evidence that shows vaccinated people — especially those who’ve received boosters — are far less likely to experience severe illness and be hospitalized for COVID-19. 

Omicron rapidly became the dominant variant in the US after first being detected in the country in early December. While omicron generally appears to cause less severe illness than previous variants, experts caution against describing the extremely transmissible variant as “mild.”

 “Just like previous variants, omicron is hospitalizing people and it is killing people,” the World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said last Thursday. 

Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, on Sunday told ABC’s “This Week” that US “hospital systems are under a lot of stress” but that he expects “this surge to peak in the next couple of weeks.”

“It’ll peak in different places in America at different times. But once we get into February, I really do expect much, much lower case numbers,” Jha added. 

Jha underscored that hospitals are overrun with people who aren’t vaccinated or haven’t received booster shots, stating that vaccinated people are “largely avoiding getting particularly sick.”