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Cone Health expert explains shift to endemic as cases fall | 2 Your-Well Being

COVID-19 metrics have improved for weeks. A Cone Health doctor explains why we haven't reached an endemic yet and what it will take to get there.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — We've lived with COVID-19 for about two years. COVID-19 metrics have seen significant improvements after the omicron variant caused hospitalizations and cases to spike.

With numbers improving, some doctors have suggested we're swapping to an endemic. To put the data into context and explain what an endemic means, Dr. Jay Wyatt, the Chief Medical Officer at Moses Cone Hospital, joined us.

First, Dr. Wyatt said we remain in a pandemic despite the significant progress we've seen so far. He said to get to an endemic, the case count has to get to a more manageable level and stay there for a period of time.

"Even though we have come down a lot, there's still a lot of diseases still out there," Dr. Wyatt said.

Dr. Wyatt said we need to get as many people vaccinated as possible to get to that endemic state. He said masks likely will not be a major part of endemic life, but people can decide to wear one for the best protection in certain situations. 

Despite breakthrough infections, Dr. Wyatt still urged everyone to get the vaccine. He said it makes the illness less severe, so it's still doing its job.

He had the same advice for people hesitant to get a booster shot. Dr. Wyatt said it can only help you. He said it won't hurt you.

Dr. Wyatt said vaccine trials for kids under five continue. Until scientists develop one that they feel is safe and effective, he suggested parents have their kids follow the same health practices we've used throughout the pandemic. He said wearing a mask, social distancing and hand washing are all helpful.