The future of COVID-19 in South Dakota? Sanford doctor says less pandemic, more endemic – Community News

The future of COVID-19 in South Dakota? Sanford doctor says less pandemic, more endemic

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Hundreds of South Dakotans are still getting sick from COVID-19 and hundreds are still hospitalized, but Dr. Jeremy Cauwels is starting to see a shift.

New COVID-19 cases in South Dakota have plateaued since falling due to a Delta variant in August and September. While all but two counties – Hand and Jerauld – are currently experiencing “high” or “significant” community spread of COVID-19, Cauwels sees the virus trying to become more endemic than pandemic.

“At some point, we will get to a point where the circulating amount of COVID will reach a steady state,” Cauwels told KELOLAND News. “We will always see a little bit of COVID in our hospital. It can change with seasons, it can change with travel or it can change with something else. I think we will always see a little bit of COVID and we will have to get used to it.”

The chief physician at Sanford Health said one of the biggest differences between pandemic and endemic is how pandemics come in waves. He added that that is usually with a new virus and one that the population has not seen and cannot protect against.

“The nice thing about this virus is that we have a way to fight the virus,” Cauwels said. “In this case, we have a vaccine. We are also developing other drugs to help treat the virus.”

Comparing COVID-19 to chickenpox and the common cold, Cauwels said there are many illnesses that never go away.

“It is endemic to the way we live. This is COVID’s maneuver, if you will, to do the same,” Cauwels said. “It becomes part of the baseline of how we get through our days.”

As COVID-19 cases continue to go up and down like the pandemic version, Cauwels wondered when the endemic version of COVID-19 will see 180 people hospitalized at Sanford Health as it is now, or if it will. will be more than 30 people.

“I think it will be much closer to that smaller number than that higher number,” Cauwels said. “But that’s what we’re trying to solve.”

New and more drugs are helping push COVID-19 out of the pandemic state. Cauwels pointed to two oral drugs that treat COVID-19 and can ‘significantly’ reduce hospitalizations. He also cited the success of monoclonal antibody transfusions as positives.

The biggest concern Cauwels has about the future of COVID-19 revolves around the hesitancy of vaccines. He said there is nearly two years of data on the vaccine showing it is “extremely safe.”

As the pandemic enters its 22nd month, Cauwels believes the number of new cases will continue to decline.

“I expect December’s numbers to be lower than today’s,” Cauwels said. “I expect they will continue to fall. I expect January’s numbers to be lower than today’s as well.”