No, the pandemic is not over, Pima County officials say

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 7:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) When President Biden said over the weekend during an interview with 60 minutes, “The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it... but the pandemic is over,” it created some concern among health officials across the country, including Pima County.

“I think COVID is still a major public health problem,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Pima County Health Director. “We still have people in the hospital and we still have people dying.”

Pima County is 80% vaccinated but still has 400 people a day in the hospital and has had for nearly four months now. It isn’t letting up.

According to CDC statistics, there were 61,712 new cases yesterday. 31,794 remain hospitalized and 484 people died. Still big numbers.

“I know for the country itself, it is in most places the number one killer for adults.” Dr. Cullen said. “In terms of Pima County its third behind cancer and heart disease.”

Likely the President is talking about a change in attitude since many people have forgotten about COVID-19 and have resumed the life they had prior to the pandemic outbreak in 2020. But that carries a risk.

“We’re still in the early stages of understanding of what will be the impact of COVID over the long term.” Dr. Cullen said. “For many people long term will be three to six months, for others it could be an impact for a lifetime.”

Chronic fatigue and brain fog, two of the most insidious issues with long COVID, are not very well understood and will take years before they are and a treatment devised.

So getting COVID remains a risk. Most likely won’t have long term, lingering effects but that is still not a guarantee.

What has happened to COVID is, it has become a choice. It’s a persons personal preference if he or she wants to get a shot or to wear a mask.

In the early days of the pandemic’s vaccines, it was thought that it would prevent people from getting COVID. But as time passed, it became apparent that even vaccinated and boosted people could still contract the disease, multiple times.

Still, those who are vaccinated run a much lower risk of a serious outcome if they come down with COVID. So taking precautions is still preferable.

“Personally when I choose to wear a mask I’m not letting COVID control my life,” Dr. Cullen said. “I’m making for me, a wise decision.”