Even if things seem to be getting more back to normal, the challenges of the pandemic are still present around us.
But with numbers trending down, it seems that the conversation around COVID is doing the same at the moment.
“Clearly we’re entering another ‘lull’ as you called it,” says Dr. James McDeavitt, the executive vice president and dean of Clinical Affairs at the Baylor College of Medicine.
He gives a simple answer to the question many people are asking.
“‘Are we done with the pandemic?’ I think the answer to, ‘Are we done with it?’ is, unfortunately, no,” McDeavitt said.
However, he says the data is encouraging overall. For context he says, numbers are going down again. Not as low as post-Delta, but certainly coming back down.
“To put it into local perspective, as we’re coming off the Delta wave, we looked at our low point in terms of community cases. We got down to 36 cases per 100,000 population per 7 days – that’s the metric CDC follows… 36. By January, we increased 75-fold… we were up to 2,800 cases by January. That’s now come down just below 500. So we’re not down to 36. 500 is still a very high number, but we’re clearly dropping… and we’re dropping very quickly,” McDeavitt said.
But the question remains, ‘What happens next?’ ‘Is there going to be a sixth wave of COVID?’
Some experts have predicted a summer surge.
“Could we see another variant emerge? Absolutely,” he continued.
And that could strain hospitals and staffs again, but McDeavitt believes that preparation, in this case, will be more about experience.
“The health system has now been dealing with this for two years and hospitals have gotten good at it. I think they’ve just learned how to accommodate the virus,” McDeavitt says.
For now, he says, “I think the best advice to people at this point is just be careful.”
He encourages people to mask when indoors in crowded areas, stay home from work if they’re sick and get vaccinated if they aren’t already because there’s always another potential threat around the corner.
“My biggest fear is that another variant emerges that is as contagious as omicron or more contagious than omicron – that is more deadly than omicron,” he says. “I don’t think that will happen. I think more likely than not it won’t, but it is possible.”