DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – After White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said the United States is ‘out of the pandemic phase,’ Miami Valley health officials warn that we’re not to an endemic stage yet.
“The transition from a pandemic to an endemic is not a sharp line,” Premier Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marc Belcastro said.
Even as COVID-19 cases remain low, health officials continue to watch because this data indicates if and when COVID-19 becomes endemic.
“We’re beginning to get more data, but it’s still not as predictable as something as the flu, so we’re still in a little bit of a wait and see period,” Public Health Dayton-Montgomery County Public Information Supervisor Dan Suffoletto said.
An endemic means a virus or disease has a predictable pattern based on the season or area its in. Belcastro said it does not mean it’s any less dangerous.
“Just because something is endemic, doesn’t mean it’s something harmless or normal because the common cold is endemic, but malaria is also endemic, and malaria kills a lot of people every year,” Belcastro said.
Health officials worry Fauci’s message may signal to people that COVID-19 is already over, but it’s too soon for that mindset.
“We’re not done with COVID, it’s just that we’re looking at it and classifying it in different ways as we go throughout the pandemic,” Suffoletto said.
These health experts recommend we continue to practice some of the habits we’ve learned during the height of the pandemic like handwashing, staying home if you’re sick and keeping up with vaccinations and boosters.
“It sounds sort of like a broken record, but that message doesn’t change regardless of whether or not we’re in a quote, unquote pandemic or quote, unquote endemic, community transmission, while lower, is still something to be aware of,” Clark County Combined Health District communications coordinator Nate Smith said.
Smith said the transition from pandemic to endemic underscores the need for vaccinations, as they are the best tool we have to prevent severe illness, especially for those most at risk.
“If COVID-19 is something we have to live with in perpetuity, then getting vaccinated and protecting, mitigating your risk, against severe illness and death as a result of COVID is all the more important,” Smith said.