Some governors push for endemic shift in COVID-19 strategy

Some governors are pushing for a return to normal and urging federal officials to take a more endemic approach handling the pandemic, according to a Jan. 31 New York Times report.

As case counts decline nationally, daily deaths are rising and U.S. hospitals remain overstretched. Though cases are dropping, they are still higher than any other period of the pandemic, and some forecasts project that the BA.2 variant — a subvariant of omicron — may slow the current decline.  

Some state leaders said omicron has pulled the U.S. closer to the endemic stage, despite new variants and the threat of future surges.  

"We're not going to manage this to zero," New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy said Jan. 30 on NBC News' "Meet the Press." "We have to learn how to live with this."

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the U.S. should, while remaining vigilant, move toward treating the virus as endemic. More variants are inevitable and the federal government should help states increase testing capacity and access to treatments, Mr. Hutchinson said on "Meet the Press" Jan. 30.  

One expert — Aris Katzourakis, PhD, professor of evolution and genomics at St. Hilda's College Oxford in the U.K. — wrote in a Nature op-ed that the word "endemic" is one of the most misused of the pandemic, contributing to a dangerous complacency about COVID-19's potential future toll.

The CDC defines a pandemic as "an event in which a disease spreads across several countries and affects a large number of people." In contrast, endemic refers to the "constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent within a geographic area." 

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