What COVID-19’s New Normal Looks Like Is Up to Us
On April 13, 2020 I spoke at a press conference stating that COVID-19 social mitigation measures would be our “new normal” until we had vaccines. In limited supplies, COVID-19 safe and effective vaccines had become available in the U.S. by December 2020. In April 2022 the COVID-19 vaccination supply is abundant in the United States. There are vaccines FDA-approved to treat those aged 5 years or older. There are also new drugs that treat COVID-19. COVID-19, unlike the initial pandemic days, is manageable and preventable. We must adapt again, just like we did before. We now have the ability to make our own choices and keep others safe and healthy. The COVID-19 controls tools are available for everyone to use.
We are still experiencing a severe pandemic despite significant improvements in COVID-19 prevention and care over the last two years. There are approximately 30,000 cases in the US and 1,500 hospitalizations. Each day, 400 people die from COVID-19. COVID-19 is evolving to become a more deadly virus. It can appear in unpredicted waves. COVID-19 has prompted a diverse and sometimes contentious response. There is opposition to vaccination. The public is becoming increasingly disinterested in COVID-19 mitigation. Trust in health professionals and public health is declining. While we recognize the difficulties of achieving unified responses in a divided public, we can also see how destructive community fighting is.
COVID-19 regulations are still under legal scrutiny. These control measures influence public health responses and limit CDC authority. Supreme Court overturns federal mandates that big businesses vaccine their workers. Legal challenges are being brought against the recent Philadelphia reintroduction a mandatory mask requirement. Just one week after the CDC increased the Omicron B2 variant infected rate, a federal judge vacated that travel mandate. The legal rulings mean that both the CDC as well as the health departments are under limited authority.
We must recognize, just like the virus itself, that our response to COVID-19 is changing. COVID-19 control will be more of a community responsibility as individuals, schools, communities and businesses take on a greater role in the April 2022 new normal. The new normal is that “recommendation” will replace “mandate.” The new normal is that we work together in conjunction with public health to protect each other and ourselves. COVID-19 has not become the new normal.
First of all, whether you are vaccinated, or not, we have a responsibility to not infect anyone else.It is important to know if someone has COVID-19 and how they can be isolated. It is important to identify COVID-19 symptoms and to get tested as soon as possible. It is important that over the counter COVID-19 testing, which are highly effective when performed serially, continue to be widely accessible.
The second is to acknowledge the value, safety, and efficacy COVID-19 immunizationsand booster shots to children and adults. The majority of severe COVID-19 infections occur in people who have not been vaccinated. This is because more than one third of COVID-19-eligible Americans aren’t vaccinated. Misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccinations has contributed to the problem. .
We must also recognize the most vulnerable.to avoid the negative side effects of the virus. Not only that, but also people who are not suffering from any medical condition can be affected by severe COVID-19. This protection is provided by vaccinations and booster shots. It is important to use medical preventative therapy for medically fragile patients. Evusheld is a new combination monoclonal antibody treatment that markedly reduces one’s chance of getting COVID-19 if you are immunocompromised. Only 30% of the available Evusheld dosages were used.
Fourth, regardless of how vaccinated someone is, it’s important to verify that they have COVID-19.They can be treated with antiviral drugs. They can be treated with monoclonal or multiclonal antibodies, as well as Paxlovid and Molnupiravir. It is important to make test-to-treat available and expand medication availability.
We need to recognize that our method of tracking and reporting COVID-19 infection is not the best.In some cases, the information in these communities could be out of date. We don’t know how many people have COVID-19 because there are so many home test results. This information will be needed by both public health and medical officials. As is wastewater testing, random surveillance testing in the community and testing patients in hospitals are other options.
Six, We must continue to rely upon basic COVID-19 prevention measures. COVID-19 spreads more easily outdoors than it is indoors. Indoor ventilation must be a norm in indoor living.
The seven-fold role of face masks in COVID-19 mitigation is that individuals who wear well-fitting and high-quality masks have a lower chance of contracting or spreading COVID-19. However, face mask effectiveness can differ from variant to variant. High quality face masks can be made freely available and easily distributed to facilitate their use. Face mask use is becoming a contentious issue. We need to recognize their importance in layering mitigation strategies. Concentrating on ventilation and COVID-19 screening may suffice to stop COVID-19 spreading without the use of a face mask. Respecting the choice of whether or not to wear a mask is a new standard.
Eighth, the medical community must continue standing upsite of authoritative information. Medical knowledge has always been based on data, facts, and health care measures. Increasingly we hear “talk to your trusted healthcare provider.” The medical community has an obligation to call out misstatements and set the facts straight. Medical professionals must be more proactive in countering false claims and offering boosters and vaccines to their patients. It is essential that doctors prescribe the COVID-19 effective therapeutics to this treatable and preventable disease.
Our collective response to COVID-19 will include a transition to individuals, local businesses and organizations, barring any further serious outbreaks. Now, we have the vaccines, medication, as well as strategies to control, prevent and treat COVID-19. Public health must continue to play a critical role in the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also need to ensure that COVID-19 therapeutics and control tools are readily available. It is up to us, now that we are two years into this pandemic it to be able to recognize and take action to ensure our safety and the health of others.
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