Is the pandemic over? We checked in with a local health expert

Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 6:49 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - With the city alive, hospitalizations down, and no recent surge in cases, it feels like we’re finally on the other side of this pandemic.

But is it really over, or are we just over it? We’re all over the pandemic, but the data looks good, too.

This map from the CDC shows COVID transmission by county. Most of the U.S. is in green. That includes all South Carolina counties and all but two counties in Georgia.

So, does this mean the pandemic is over? We spoke to a local expert to find out.

Busy streets, crowded restaurants, and very few masks insight.

“It feels, well, like it should be,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, infectious disease expert, AU.

Is it safe to say the worst is in the past?

“I don’t think any of us, certainly that’s true for me, know exactly what to expect. But be vigilant, know that it’s out there. But don’t obsess about it,” he said.

MacArthur says in areas with minimal cases it’s safe to drop some precautions, even masks.

“I think it’s reasonably safe to take the masks off,” he said.

He says COVID is now endemic. This means we’ll see clusters of case spikes in certain areas. Like the state of New York. Although it’s not clear why some areas have spikes.

“That’s to be expected and can be managed. You start to see an increase in cases, and you basically come up with some local strategy of how to respond as opposed to mandates across the country,” said MacArthur.

After two years of interviews via video chat, we’re finally sitting down in the same room. We asked him how that speaks to how far we’ve come.

MacArthur says we’ll likely continue to see clusters of spikes, but spikes are manageable. He says the phase we’re in is thanks to vaccines, boosters, and natural immunity.

“I think it speaks a lot to how far we’ve come, but I also think we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work,” said MacArthur.

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