COLE COUNTY – COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to trend downward in mid-Missouri.
Chezney Schulte, coordinator of communicable diseases for the Cole County Health Department, said according to nationwide data, we are still in what officials consider a pandemic.
“Everyone is looking for a way to move towards an endemic kind of status,” Schulte said. “It seems that this is very much a virus that will be more common among people among these populations. And it’s more the definition of an endemic.”
According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an endemic refers to the constant presence and / or usual occurrence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographical area. A pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread across several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.
“Pandemic would be more of that outbreak status, a kind of situation,” Schulte said. “Personally, I do not quite feel that we are in that status anymore. However, we have not really moved to endemic status yet either.”
Schulte credits a number of factors in this comparison with an endemic one.
“I think there are a lot of things to consider, including people who have been given COVID-19, people who have been vaccinated, the level of that immunity across communities in the nation,” Schulte said. “Also looking at resources, hospital status, disease severity, all of these things need to be considered as well.”
Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Senior Services, said she believes COVID-19 is here to stay.
“Even though the word ‘end’ is in it [endemic]it does not mean the end, “Cox said.
Cox said in the two years since the pandemic reached mid-Missouri, the department has come a long way in dealing with these types of diseases.
“We will learn to live with it among us, learn to protect the most vulnerable populations, keep an eye on the disease and who it affects, and if it affects certain population groups,” Cox said.