MIDSTATE, Pa. (WHTM) — New data from the CDC indicates almost 60 percent of Americans show signs of previous COVID-19 infections, but what exactly does that mean for the state of the pandemic?
According to UPMC infectious disease specialist Dr. John Goldman, it is actually good news. He said this information is a strong sign the country is finally shifting out of the pandemic.
Even with COVID-19 cases rising across the country, Goldman said the virus is starting to become endemic — something we have to live with, but is no longer the dangerous disease we have seen over the last two years.
“[Cases are] up as high as 50, 60 thousand a day,” Goldman said. “They’re still at levels that are much lower than at any other time in the pandemic with the exception of last summer.”
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Goldman said case count is not the only important number.
“We aren’t seeing a corresponding increase in hospitalizations,” Goldman said.
UPMC is now seeing just five to 15 patients hospitalized with COVID, and all are unvaccinated.
“Between vaccination and natural infection, most people have some form of preexisting immunity,” Goldman said.
While the spread of COVID-19 has slowed, Goldman said people should keep getting boosters if they are eligible.
“It provides protection against breakthrough infection,” he said.
Boosters are probably going to become a regular thing.
“I think it’s possible we’ll get a yearly COVID shot just like we get a yearly flu shot,” Goldman said.
Goldman said people should still consider their individual risk.
“I still recommend my patients who are at risk wear masks, be careful,” he said.
However, after two years of restrictions and surges, many of us can finally start treating COVID-19 a little more like the flu.
“Each year, we’ll probably have fewer and fewer and fewer cases as more and more people get immune, and there’ll be fewer and fewer and fewer hospitalizations and death,” Goldman said.
abc27 also asked Goldman if two years is about how long it usually takes to transition out of a pandemic. He said on average, that is true for very infectious diseases. Goldman said when the Spanish flu hit the U.S. in 1918, it also took about two or three years for the virus to fade into the background.