More States Shifting Toward Endemic Approach in COVID Handling

More states have decided to begin shifting into "endemic" phases of their COVID-19 protocol as U.S. cases have declined in recent weeks.

Coronavirus cases have been on a downward trend since its peak last month due to the Omicron variant, with data from Reuters showing that the number of cases is only 9 percent of the amount recorded on January 14.

Because of this, more states have announced in the last week that they are shifting protocol from pandemic level to endemic level, meaning they will be able to ease restrictions and address worker shortages more consistently.

Colorado announced on Friday that they will be making this shift in multiple phases that include planning for the next variant and addressing the health care worker shortage and related issues, according to local news station KDVR.

"Last summer I declared an end to the public health emergency because we had the tools we needed and the systems in place, to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and avoid overcrowding our hospitals. But today I'm here to say that it's time for us to turn the page," said Colorado Governor Jared Polis on Friday in a tweet.

Last week, California became the first state to announce this shift in its statewide protocol, with Governor Gavin Newsom telling the Associated Press that "this pandemic won't have a defined end. There's no finish line." However, he hopes that the endemic phase will create "a plan that allows us to be prepared without being paranoid and more alert to what's happening around us without being anxious."

Since then, Utah, West Virginia, New Jersey, Vermont, and Pennsylvania have all declared similar plans to begin shifting from pandemic to endemic procedures.

Vermont's seven-day case average hit its lowest point this week since November 2, according to state health officials.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Wednesday that he will no longer hold planned coronavirus briefings, tweeting that "there is no longer the need for us to gather at a set time every week."

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice looked towards a hopeful future on Monday during a briefing saying, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could start pulling out of this?"

On Friday afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it would change its recommendations to remove or ease mask mandates in communities it deems at lower risk of COVID-19 spread.

"We're in a stronger place today as a nation with more tools to protect ourselves and our community from COVID-19," Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the CDC, said during the announcement.

Newsweek reached out to the CDC for additional comment.

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Several states are moving from pandemic to endemic as the U.S. starts to see a downward trend in COVID-19 cases. Above, a general view of face masks. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images