'Out of jail:' Locals and doctors react to Fauci saying pandemic phase is over

27 April 2022

— Many people celebrated Wednesday when Dr. Anthony Fauci said the United States is “certainly, right now, out of the pandemic phase.”

He went on to explain his reasoning, saying we no longer have 900,000 new infections each day, with tens or thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.

“So if you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country? We are,” he said.

However, he later re-phrased and explained how his comments had been mischaracterized.

“We’re not over the pandemic. Don’t let anybody get the misinterpretation that the pandemic is over, but what we are in is a different phase of the pandemic,” he said. “A phase that’s a transition phase, hopefully headed toward more of a control where you can actually get back to some form of normality.”

Fauci also pointed out that COVID cases are trending up again, and that daily cases are still twice as high as they were most of last summer.

New cases are ticking back up in most states, and hospitalizations have started to rise over the past week.

Fewer people are dying of COVID-10 now than during most of the pandemic, but with more than 400 deaths a day, the past two months of COVID-19 have been more deadly than most recent flu seasons.

Locals and doctors react to being in a ‘new phase’ of the pandemic

The parks in Raleigh were overflowing with families outdoors enjoying the weather — without masks.

“I feel like we’re out of jail!” said Sakeena Ali, who lives in Cary.

Harold Chavis, also out at the park, said he hopes the news means things will start going back to how they were prior to 2020. However, he also feels concerned Fauci is sending mixed messages.

“He can say that it’s alright for us to come out and party again — but it’s not okay with me,” he said. “Feels like he’s contradicting himself. If he don’t feel safe to go out like that, how should we feel safe?”

Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease physician at UNC Health, says Fauci’s wording is all semantics, and that local cases are rising a bit — and could be even higher due to more people testing at home, rather than testing sites.

“We may be in a different phase of the pandemic, but this is not normal,” he said.

Joseph Varon, who is visiting NC from New York, said it’s great to see people’s smiling faces again — instead of masks. Even so, he says he’s still leery about being around crowds. He wears masks on buses and subways, as well as busy areas.

“I like to side on safety, and I think everybody should,” he said.

Despite these potential concerns, Ali still feels excited for the future outside the pandemic phase.

“It felt like we were prisoners in our own home,” he said. “Being out of the pandemic phase for me means that we are able to just be free and roam America, roam the earth, gi where we want to go.”

Dr. Wohl, however, urges people to remember not everyone has the luxury of going maskless — especially people who are older or immunocompromised. They are still at risk. He reminds locals to respect those who still choose to wear masks.

“Any one of us who wears a mask in supermarket or public transportation … or is immunocompromised and are worried that someone’s going to breathe on them and put them in the hospital … will tell you the pandemic is not over,” he said.

Varon agrees, saying moving into a new phase of the pandemic doesn’t mean the pandemic itself is over — or that numbers couldn’t rise again.

“I am not convinced it’s 100 percent over until it’s 100 percent over,” he said.

This post was originally published on this site

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