Transitioning Out of the Pandemic: 5 Things to Keep in Mind
After more than three years, the World Health Organization (WHO) ended the global emergency status for COVID-19 earlier this month, on May 5th. Additionally, the COVID-19 public health emergency expired on May 11, 2023 in the US.
Does this mean the pandemic is over?
Well, it depends on who you ask. It’s difficult to declare the end of the pandemic, since coronavirus is still spreading, albeit slower than before. According to Michael Ryan, the Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergency Program, “Pandemics truly end when the next pandemic begins.”
For the most part, people are over the pandemic. They don’t want to talk about it, or even think about it anymore. Many people already refer to it as something in the past, and probably did not realize we were still in a national and global emergency state until recently. Ending these health emergencies does not affect most aspects of our daily lives; many people have lived regularly for a while, with no masks, no restrictions, and no caution.
However, for those of us who still wear masks to the grocery store and give people funny looks when they cough too loud, it may be difficult to suddenly act as though the pandemic is over. We’ve learned to work remotely, wear masks, and practice social distancing, and old habits die hard. It's important to remember that transitioning out of the pandemic is a process, not an event. Here are five things to keep in mind as we transition out of the pandemic.
1. COVID-19 is NOT gone
Despite the ending of the public health emergency, COVID-19 is still very much a threat. People are still contracting it and dying from it. The COVID death rate has slowed from a peak of more than 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 in the week to April 24, 2023, according to WHO data. This is great progress, and a portrayal of the impact of vaccines, but it also shows that coronavirus is still very much out there. Plus, variants of the virus can still emerge, and it’s possible that we may need booster shots or updated vaccines in the future.
2. Disinfecting will always be necessary
The pandemic has made us all more aware of the importance of disinfecting surfaces and washing our hands. Even as we transition out of the pandemic, it’s important to continue these habits. Regular cleaning and disinfecting can help prevent the spread of not just COVID-19, but other illnesses as well. With technology like Breezy Blue disinfecting minibots, disinfecting is easy and requires little to no labor. Finding new technology that makes hygienic practices easier is key to keeping these important procedures in place, even after the pandemic ends.
3. Always be prepared
The pandemic has shown us that we cannot predict what will happen in the future. It’s important to be prepared for emergencies, whether it’s a pandemic, a natural disaster, or something else entirely. This means having a stockpile of essential supplies, such as food, water, and medication, and having a plan in place for how to respond to different scenarios. Good hygiene practices, as mentioned above, should always be in place. The time that it took to implement masks and regular disinfecting was far too long, and made the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more chaotic than it could have been.
4. Stay informed
The pandemic highlighted the importance of accurate information and science-based decision-making. As we transition out of the pandemic, it’s important to stay informed about public health guidelines, vaccine updates, and any new developments related to COVID-19. Some notifications are ending, and it will not be as easy to see data on how many cases are in your area, so keep an eye out and stay informed.
5. Be grateful
Finally, it’s important to reflect on all the changes and events that have happened since 2020, and appreciate seeing our families, traveling, going to concerts, and being able to come to an office and work with colleagues in person. The pandemic was a difficult time for many people, so now that it’s mostly over, remember to appreciate all the little things. Live life to the fullest - you never know what could happen next.
In conclusion, transitioning out of the pandemic is not a quick process, but by keeping these five things in mind, we can all play a role in ensuring a safe and successful transition. Let’s continue to stay aware of COVID-19, disinfect and practice good hygiene, be prepared, stay informed, and most importantly, be grateful for the things we have. Together, we can navigate this transition and emerge stronger on the other side.
Covid-19 Emergency Declarations End May 11, What You Need To Know | Forbes
WHO declares end to COVID global health emergency | Reuters