Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced on Wednesday that the state will treat Covid-19 like influenza and will transition to an endemic phase after two years of the pandemic starting today, April 1st.
During the press conference on Wednesday at the state capitol, Gov. Parson compared Covid-19 to the flu and car crashes and said that “the Covid-19 crisis is over in the state of Missouri, and we are moving on.”
I asked Gov. Parson about concerns over this move, and whether or not he may need to backtrack. pic.twitter.com/vaaUuypnxW
— Michael Adkison (@madkisonews) March 31, 2022
Spectrum Local News reported:
Gov. Parson said COVID cases and hospitalizations have decreased dramatically since their January peak. He also said COVID transmission is at its lowest level since the pandemic began in March of 2020. Parson also explained that most Missourians have some immunity to the virus through past infection or the vaccine.
“Over the past two years, we have learned a lot that will help us respond to future outbreaks and challenges that may come our way,” said Gov. Parson.
The state says besides vaccines, testing and treatment options, it also has expanded its capabilities in areas of PPE, hospital capacity, and data collection.
Paula Nickelson , the Acting Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, said the endemic phase means COVID is now at a constant presence in our population and will be considered like many other diseases.
The transition means contract tracing will stop, but health officials will still monitor the disease. Nickelson said the surveillance will be like that of influenza. The state will also stop providing daily updates to its dashboards and will be providing weekly updates.
Nickelson and Gov. Parson both stressed that this doesn’t mean COVID is no longer present. They say spikes and outbreaks are expected. Nickelson said there is presence of the BA.12 strain of the Omicron variant in the state and they will be monitoring the virus.
The acting health director also said the state would not push for any mask mandates in the future.
“Everyone knew this day was coming, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone,” said Gov. Parson.
In February, California was the first state to declare endemic. Newsom used an acronym to best describe his shift to an ‘endemic’ approach: SMARTER: Shots, Masks, Awareness, Readiness, Testing, Education, and Rx (prescriptions).
“This disease is not going away,” he told The Associated Press. “It’s not the end of the quote, unquote, war.”
Newsom will keep many of his executive emergency orders in place.
“This pandemic won’t have a defined end. There’s no finish line,” Newsom said during a press conference.
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