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Endemic Now?

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Devon Mitchell

It’s been over two years since the novel coronavirus found its way into all of our lives and it seems like an end may be in sight. Cases are dropping, hospitalizations are low, and as of February 21st, 65% of Americans are vaccinated. While all of this is good news, is it too soon to declare COVID -19 endemic? 

Multiple states have begun loosening up on their indoor mask mandates. California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Oregon, Illinois, Nevada, and Massachusetts are all ending indoor mask mandates in the coming weeks. Even Washington DC is ending their mask mandate and their vaccine requirement. All of this comes with political pressure. The DC mayor Muriel Bowser expressed the pressure from constituents stating, “We also know that people who have been vaccinated and others are wanting to get back to their normal lives and know what they need to do to keep themselves safe.” 

I am a little shocked by the sudden jump to endemic times. The US’s vaccination rate is awful compared to other countries. We made the same mistake last summer of taking off our masks then Delta came along…then Omicron. So, what makes us so sure that it’ll be different this time? Additionally, requiring proof of vaccination was a big motivator for people to get vaccinated. Taking that away will only make the people holding off from the vaccine less likely to get it.  

It’s clear that people are itching to get back to the normal life we had pre-pandemic, but it is so important that we take steps to ensure that our people are safe when we do so. People who are immunocompromised are still at risk if those who are unvaccinated are maskless in businesses they once considered safe. I’m no epidemiologist, but I fear that we are in store for another variant which could be worse than the previous two. I will be erring on the side of caution for a little while longer.