As someone who participated in a COVID vaccine clinical trial, who has other vulnerable people in my life, and who tries to be a diligent and responsible community member, I’ve been following the science, public health information, and news about the pandemic over these last, long 3.5 years. I’ve done so many blog posts about it, I’ve lost count.
As you may know, the World Health Organization and the United States are winding down their public health emergency declarations.
This does not mean, though, that the pandemic itself has ended. COVID-19 is still widespread across the world and hundreds die every day as a result. There is still the potential for new variants and COVID is not yet seasonal, like influenza. Eventually, COVID will become endemic, as the flu is, but we aren’t there yet.
While some US programs, such as tracking hospitalization rates and wastewater testing, will continue, others will end. I will miss the COVID maps and risk ratings that the CDC has been providing. Besides the overall community risk assessment, the transmission rate maps were important to me in deciding how much public masking I needed to do or whether large, indoor gatherings were advisable at all. It’s true that, with so many COVID cases discovered through home testing and never officially recorded, the statistics are not as comprehensive as they were during the months of testing centers, but, for example, it’s helpful for me to know that my county has a moderate transmission rate but the county to our east is currently at the highest transmission rate level, two notches higher than here. Having that information could inform a decision between using a drive-through or dining in on my way through the county, as well as alerting me that the higher infection levels could spread in my direction. After Thursday, that information will not be readily available to me.
I’ll still follow the science and public health advice as best I can and will get my next booster when recommended. I’ll test at home if I have symptoms and avoid being in public when I’m sick with anything, COVID or not. I’ll keep a supply of KF94 masks in my size nearby for high-risk situations that may arise. I’ll try to do all the things we should be doing all the time, like eating well, getting enough rest, and practicing good hygiene.
I still, though, don’t want to get COVID if I can help it. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never been infected, although I could have had an asymptomatic case at some point. I know very few people who are in that category these days.
Will the end of the emergency declarations and the resulting decline in data be a factor in my eventually contracting COVID?
Impossible to predict, but fingers crossed.