What's next for the COVID-19 crisis? Public health experts weigh in.

Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 17:15:39-05

TAMPA, Fla. — We’re almost at the two-year mark of the pandemic, and while some people are remaining optimistic, others are asking what could we expect next.

According to Florida Department of Health data, COVID case numbers have been declining over the past few weeks.

“With us here in Tampa, cases are down close to 75 percent over what they were at our peak on January 11,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a Distinguished USF Health professor.

Still attitudes right now appear mixed. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found about three in four adults say that “tired” and “frustrated” describe how they feel about the current state of the pandemic in the US, while about four in ten each say they are “optimistic” or “angry.”

Dr. Unnasch points to a few bright spots he sees. For one, he says even though case numbers with omicron were greater than what we saw with delta, hospitalizations were less.

“We were seeing a lot of infections among vaccinated people and boosted people, but they weren’t getting very sick at all,” said Unnasch.

Dr. Unnasch thinks we’re going to be moving into a new landscape, saying there may be new variants that come along, but he thinks the amount of disease we’re going to see is going to be much less than before.

“I think this is going to go endemic and it’s going to be a lot like a seasonal flu, but we’re going to have a couple of drugs that are going to be good at treating it, and I think the immunity that we have with the boosts, and particularly I think moving forward, we’ll be getting boosters like once a year like we do for flu, and it’s just going to become part of the background landscape that we live with,” said Unnasch.