Is It Over?

I can’t say I got the warm and fuzzies when President Biden declared the pandemic “over” on 60 Minutes last night. He also mentioned that COVID-19 is still an issue that is being dealt with, so, at least he reminded folks. But the strongest statement was that the pandemic was “over.” I think that statement was irresponsible.

NPR reports that worldwide, there are still reports of over 400,000 cases daily. There have been significant increases between August 16 and September 17th in various countries, including the United States, though, I think the lower numbers in the US have more to do with lack of reporting of home tests than anything. News flash: People are still dying. So, COVID-19 is still here.

In Houston, we seem to have finally gone below 20 percent test positivity and continue to trend downward. And we even have a new 3-tiered COVID threat scale of Low-Medium-High. We are currently at Medium, which tell us: “If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions.”

So, listen to your doctors…if you have access to one. Or have insurance. And if you really care about your high risk relatives and friends, mask up!

My worry continues to be about the immunocompromised and the frail whose relatives seem to continue going unmasked, as President Biden celebrated on 60 Minutes, stating, “Everyone looks in good shape.” or something like that.

Even more disturbing is an inflamed debate about what constitutes a “COVID death.” Dr. Monica Ghandi at UC-San Francisco seems to say it is just like the flu, now. Dr. Fauci disagrees.

“I’m sorry — I just disagree,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s medical adviser, and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The severity of one compared to the other is really quite stark. And the potential to kill of one versus the other is really quite stark.”

Fauci states that at the current pace, COVID-19 could still kill 125,000 more people in the next year.

“COVID is a much more serious public health issue than is influenza,” Fauci says, noting this is especially true for older people, the group at the highest risk dying from the disease.

The debate then turns to if people are dying of COVID-19 or of a pre-existing disease. I’d think that with medical advances, people are living longer even with pre-existing disease, but COVID-19 exacerbates it because of its inflammatory nature. So, it’s still COVID-19 that is the killer. Unfortunately, it becomes a public relations debate about lowering numbers versus truth in numbers.

Anyway, we’re still in this. I’m still masking in public spaces, like stores and doctor’s offices. I made a return to patio dining and even went into a restaurant, masking up while walking through it and unmasking while eating and drinking. Ultimately, I just don’t want it.

So, stay vigilant.

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