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Pandemic to endemic? Doctors say Ohio could be nearing transition as COVID immunity increases

COVID-19 Testing
COVID-19 Testing(KY3)
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 9:28 AM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The state of Ohio may be nearing a transition from pandemic to endemic, health officials said Friday in a press conference.

Speakers included Bruce Vanderoff, Ohio Department of Health Director; Patty Manning, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Chief of Staff; and Joe Gastaldo, OhioHealth Medical Director of Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Gastaldo said a pandemic occurs when an illness or disease enters a community that has no immunity, like the novel coronavirus.

The transition to endemic comes when an illness or disease persists in a population, Dr. Gastaldo said, providing a comparison to the annual influenza season.

The doctors said a population’s immunity can increase through vaccination or infection.

While COVID cases have been trending down in Ohio, Dr. Vanderoff urged residents to stay vigilant as we learn to “live with” the virus.

Dr. Vanderoff said hospitalizations have declined 65% in the last three weeks in the greater Cleveland-area, but noted that Ohio’s cases per capita remains 10 times above what is considered a high level of transmission.

Dr. Gastaldo called omicron a “tsunami” and warned that new variants could, and likely will, emerge as the fight against COVID-19 continues.

Speaking about the overwhelming toll on hospital systems and the immunocompromised, Dr. Manning said the omicron surge was something healthcare workers “never want to live through.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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