Despite soaring omicron rates and near record hospitalizations, Gov. Gavin Newsom is forecasting an end to the pandemic in the very near future.
The governor is perhaps being overly optimistic, but one of the most respected infectious disease experts in the nation agrees with him.
“We’re gonna get through this,” Newsom said. “A few more weeks.”
Newsom made those remarks one day after California set an all-time high with more than 143,000 new cases, and on the same day the state set the all-time seven-day positivity rate of 23%.
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“Preparing for – not the pandemic phase of this reality – but the endemic phase of this reality,” Newsom said. “How to be and how we live with future variants.”
UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi couldn't agree more. She said in the endemic stage, you treat the virus like influenza.
“We don’t try to test, contact trace or mask ourselves out of it,” she said. “It’s really that we treat it with vaccines, which we hope everyone will get. And if we need treatment for the unvaccinated or those with severe breakthroughs, we use treatment. But life goes back to basically normal.”
High vaccination rates and lots of natural immunity from the rapidly spreading omicron have likely provided protection from whatever variant comes next.
And as far as the record-setting number of omicron cases goes, Gandhi guarantees they’ll start to come down in a matter of just days. She bases that on what she calls, “solid” evidence.
“We actually monitor COVID in sewage and what’s happening in the sewage, genomics sequences of COVID are coming down. So that’s the first sign; we’ve already peaked with our waste water COVID,” said Gandhi.
As for when we move from the pandemic to endemic phase, Gandhi and the governor say about a month from now.