The Endemic is Near, But Is it Over Yet?  

The COVID-19 pandemic is headed in a downward trend according to health experts, but is it here to stay? 

In adjusting to the constantly changing rules and, seemingly, never-ending pandemic protocol updates, how does one know how to navigate public spaces while managing coming out on the other side into the “endemic” or the pandemic’s end? 

Michigan hospitals are seeing a positive direction with COVID patient cases on the decline – after months of facing weekly high infection rates, especially after Michigan previously led the nation in COVID-19 cases. 

While mask requirements nationwide are being removed across the board (with exceptions made for businesses that want to keep the policy), some doctors are optimistic but unsure about what is going to happen next, according to a FOX 2 Detroit report. 

“Hopefully we are heading into an endemic,” said Dr. Matthew Sims, the director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Health, in the article. “We’ve been in this exact spot before where all the numbers came down, and we get hit with another surge.” 

Dr. Sims also credited the drop in infection to herd immunity. 

“Between infection and vaccination, I think we’re getting pretty close to herd immunity. The closer you get to see herd immunity, the more it drops,” he said in the article, adding he is unsure of what is coming down the line with COVID. 

“I don’t think it’ll last because we know that these antibodies wane and if we get another variant, that’s further away these antibodies may not protect us as much,” Dr. Sims said. “For now, we have to keep our guard up because we don’t know what’s around the corner.”  

Dr. Joanne Frederick, a Washington, D.C-based licensed mental health counselor told the Michigan Chronicle previously that a healthy mindset, whether going through the end of a relationship or the end of a pandemic, is all about knowing how to cope. She breaks it further down in her book, “Copeology,” which can be found on Amazon. 

“It (the book) covers: how to deal with grief and loss, being a Black man in the world today, disabilities, surviving COVID-19, infidelity, anxiety and fears, trauma and single parenting,” she wrote in her book description. 

“Emotions are our feelings. Mental health is how we think. Physical health is our actual bodies,” she said in her book. 

Frederick added that no matter what storm you’re navigating, “take care of your emotional, spiritual and physical needs first.”   

“Mothers tend to take care of the kids first, but the reality is if you do not take care of you first, then who will take care of the kids?” 

During Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s annual State of the State address in late January, she optimistically spoke about her unwavering support of the state’s strength and its residents’ strength after dealing with 2021.   

“While 2021 wasn’t as miraculous as any of us wanted, we have made progress. We’re stronger in large part thanks to science and life-saving vaccines. We have come a long way, and I am encouraged about the path ahead,” Whitmer noted.    

The coronavirus pandemic has grabbed headlines and stunned medical professionals for more than two years, and now that it’s seemingly on the decline, is the pandemic’s transition into “an endemic” a soon-to-be reality or still out of reach? 

Based on current conditions and low numbers of new COVID-19 cases, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is updating its COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine guidance for Michigan residents, including for school settings

“We are updating our guidance to reflect the fact the state has entered a post-surge, recovery phase,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “As we move through the phases of our COVID-19 response, our recommendations will be updated to reflect the current status of transmission, while continuing to prioritize public health and promote health and wellness for all communities. We continue to strongly urge all residents ages 5 and older get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and to get boosted when eligible as the vaccine continues to be our best defense against the virus.” 

This update does not change guidance for health care, long-term care, corrections and other high-risk settings, and these entities should continue to follow existing guidance.  

Isolation 

  • Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 and/or displays COVID-19 symptoms (without an alternate diagnosis or negative COVID-19 test) should isolate regardless of vaccination status: 
  • Isolate at home for the first five days (starting with the day after symptoms began or day after test was taken for those without symptoms); and 
  • If symptoms have improved or no symptoms develop, return to normal activities, while wearing a well-fitted mask, for the next five days to protect others. 

Also, if an individual has a fever, they should stay home until they are fever-free for a period of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications before returning to normal activities while wearing a well-fitted mask, until the 10-day period is complete, per MDHHS guidelines. Or, they should isolate at home for 10 days if unwilling/unable to wear a mask. 

 

Notification of contacts 

  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should also notify others whom they had contact with during the time they were contagious (beginning two days before symptoms started or testing positive if no symptoms are present). 
  • Prioritize notification of individuals who are personal/household contacts and immunocompromised or high-risk individuals. 
  • Individuals would then follow the below guidance on Quarantine. 

Quarantine 

Quarantine guidance may be adjusted to respond to and control outbreaks within unique settings as needed. Local leaders and individuals should work with their local health departments for outbreak response and follow additional quarantine recommendations as situations dictate to maintain a safer environment for community members. 

Along with MDHHS’ updated guidance, there may also be local isolation and quarantine guidance and policies and/or orders from local health departments, organizations and/or school districts that must be followed. Policies established by event organizers and businesses may be instituted to fit the specific needs of their customers and should be followed. 

In addition, the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Child Care guidelines have been updated to provide consistent recommendations with K-12 schools. This includes revised recommendations concerning masking to reflect personal choice. 

MDHHS supports adjusting recommendations as the state cycles through periods of response, recovery and readiness and following local health department decisions based on local conditions. As part of the state entering the Recovery Phase, MDHHS has also rescinded its requirement that schools report confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19. 

Those with chronic illness or who are immunocompromised are at higher risk for poor outcomes from COVID-19 and would benefit most from masking in indoor settings. These risk factors may include age, medical conditions and vaccination status. 

For more information, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus

To find a vaccine, visit VaccineFinder.org. 

 

 

 

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