Is the Covid Pandemic Over?
Is the Covid pandemic over? It’s a question many are asking as Covid cases continue to fall, and restrictions are eased.
There has been a dramatic decline in the number of Covid cases in our region since January. Jennifer Harris, the public Information Officer with the Florida Department of Health for St. Lucie County says 4,244 Covid cases were reported the week ending January 20th. As of last Thursday, February 24, there were just 270 reported cases.
When the rate of infections falls like that, and a disease like Covid has become so wide-spread that most people have been exposed and many have immunity, the disease is no longer considered a pandemic. It becomes what health officials call an endemic disease, a virus that is always present and continues to circulate like the flu, chicken pox, or malaria.
“We are not at the peak of a pandemic" said Dr. Madhu Sasidhar, President of Cleveland Clinic Tradition Hospital in Port St. Lucie, adding that "there are some early indications that we may enter into a phase of endemicity," but "it’s too early to tell."
"It’s certainly a good thing that we’re seeing a downward trend in cases," said Harris. But St. Lucie County has 138 cases of Covid for every 100,000 residents and the Centers for Disease Control considers that to be "a community of high transmission," she said.
Of continued concern says Dr. Sasidhar is the durability of vaccinations, how long will they last? Moreover he points out that an endemic diseases can still be deadly. “The reality is we’ve had endemic infections before, certainly with polio, smallpox, and it can have disastrous and deadly consequences, so endemicity does not necessarily equal benign and that’s something we just need to watch for.”
Dr. Sasidhar continues to stress the importance of social distancing, masking and vaccinations.