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Is the pandemic over?

Published: Mar. 19, 2022 at 2:58 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Many cities and schools in the metro are drawing back on mask requirements, and people are back outdoors again; two things now coming into play in light of low COVID numbers throughout the state.

“It’s interesting. Hospitals now have room for some of those things that probably needed to be attended to and people sort of neglected maybe some health problems over the last couple of years. We do still see a lot of people in the hospital, just not nearly as many with COVID right now,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist with Baptist Memorial Health Care.

He says while these are all hopeful signs that the pandemic is nearing an end, he still warns people that we’re not out of the woods just yet.

“I think noting in caution that this is exactly where we were right about this time when we first heard about Omicron in South Africa reported to the WHO, so we’re in no way at any sort of time point where we’re uniquely beyond this compared to where we were before. We’re right about in that spot, and now we have the increased cases in Europe from the BA.2.”

Right now, the Stealth Omicron variant is rapidly spreading through Europe and Threlkeld predicts it’s only a matter of time before cases pop up in the U.S.

“We expect cases to go up,” he said. “We always thought that this BA.2 variant maybe, if not causing a repeat surge, might just drag the curve out a little bit.”

Threlkeld says he’s also not seeing as many people coming to get vaccinated. It’s a trend that he hopes will change.

“For right now, if we can just get everybody having their second vaccine, let alone their third, we’ll be in so much better condition than we are right now to really stamp out these mini-surges that we might see moving forward with variants coming and hitting us intermittently.”

Dr. Threlkeld says it’s important to continue the push for people to get vaccinated. As of right now in Mississippi, only 48 percent of the state is fully vaccinated.

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