The end of the pandemic has been less like a car hitting its brakes and more like a ship that has turned off its engines and slowly coasts to a stop.
from Governor Hochul COVID announcements from Monday to Friday, the descendants of former Governor Cuomo’s daily briefings that began three years ago, have come to an end, replaced by weekly updates that will count down to the end of the federal health emergency in May. He Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centerwhich tracked the virus around the world 24 hours from the beginning, closed on March 10.
The once-ubiquitous masks have slipped from many faces, and some still choose to wear them in public, but most places have abandoned their mandates. The litany of COVID-specific programs in government, nonprofits, and academic and research institutions have dwindled, with many increasingly referring to the pandemic as something we lived through and now fading away.
But COVID has not gone away. On Thursday there were 11 deaths in New York state and hundreds more nationally. Thousands of hospitalizations remain among people at risk, mainly the unvaccinated and the elderly. There is always the possibility of new variants emerging, and indeed the virus will almost certainly continue to morph and permeate in some form almost indefinitely, which is why particularly vulnerable people, including older people and people with comorbidities, should continue. Get reinforcements when available.
Ultimately, one of the most enduring things that can come out of the COVID era is changing how we respond to public health emergencies in the future. For years before the pandemic, the public and our leaders had rejected warnings that a pathogen like this could emerge and wreak havoc.
Now that we’ve survived, we can hope that policymakers at all levels are better prepared for the next one, because COVID certainly won’t be the last. That includes practical considerations, like keeping adequate stocks of PPE, but also sociological ones, like understanding the harm misinformation can cause.