Covid is not over, but even the most cautious Americans are moving forward.


She is a mother of a teenager with an immune problem Traveling by plane for the first time since the start of the corona virus pandemic. A scientist finally felt safe enough to attend a professional conference last week. Even a woman with lung problems is ready to shed her mask for retired meditation group members.

It was encouraged by the recent lifting by the government. Public health emergencyAmericans who tried to follow the law of epidemic citizens For the past three winters, they have abandoned precautions as the coronavirus receded into the background.

Officials are no longer warning of scary new variants. Free trials are hard to come by. The White House has a Covid team. scattered, and the virus is increasing from public discussions. After the neutral winter of the 2020s 2021 “Hot Wax” Summer and Last summer A journey of revengeThis summer, the fourth since the arrival of Covid, marks a season of blissful ignorance – Or accept that the rest of society is moving.

Carol Morris, who travels across the country with her husband for tango and other dance events, has seen significant changes in Covid safety protocols since last summer, with many events requiring masks, vaccinations or negative test results, and issuing notices when attendees are infected.

“Nothing now. There are no ads. No one tests. Morris, 67, in Longmont, Colo., no one thinks. “Covid? What is Covid?’

Available metrics suggest the virus is slowing, although no one knows exactly how far the coronavirus has spread. Data collection failure.

What does the end of a public health emergency mean?

The damage caused by Covid-19 is fading. Data sources will disappearincluding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Community Level Dashboard, which ranks the burden on county health care systems as low, moderate or high. The CDC now recommends that Americans use a Tracking display A new Covid-19 hospital admission to understand the state of the virus in the county. By this measure, 6,600 were new. Nationally for the week ending June 10, Compared to 30,000 this time last year.

Other parameters, incl Emergency room visitsTest results Reported voluntarily In laboratory network and Waste water monitoring They also indicate that infections are low and declining.

“We’re in a relatively good position,” said Brendan Jackson, the CDC’s event manager for the Covid-19 response.

62 percent of Americans seem to share this assessment In May, Covid-19 was over, compared with 47 percent who felt that way in February, according to the latest data. Axios-Ipsos poll. More than half now say they don’t wear a mask in public, and the share of respondents who say they always or sometimes wear a mask has dropped from 30 percent in February to 23 percent in May.

“Covid is already done. Move on,” said Isara Tak, 50, while on vacation from Los Angeles to photograph monuments on the National Mall in D.C.

In a tidal basin, Jorge Ospina said he might wear a mask in a crowded situation. But now he feels less compelled to do so.

“In the beginning, we were 100 percent by the law,” said Ospina, 39, whose relatives have frequently contracted the virus and who has two cousins ​​who each have a parent with the virus. “Everybody used to wear masks, but now it looks like the opposite.”

Susan Eschrich recently took the last mask out of her bag, nervously. She knows Covid is still around: two friends were infected in May. Someone had to be hospitalized. But Eschrich in Sarasota, Fla. , who wears a mask to care for her terminally ill 89-year-old father, who is cared for in an independent living facility where no one else can cover her, feels ostracized – not even her own father.

“I felt like it wouldn’t make a difference because if he goes out and puts on a mask, what’s the point?” “Wearing a mask is not fun,” said Eschrich, 57. No one wears a mask here. “

Most of the more than 80 people interviewed by the Washington Post They are relaxing cautions believing they will be fine because they have updated their firing times and the throughput is low. They are still making peace with many who wear masks and social distance.

China has left Covid Zero. But some don’t want to be left behind.

Jodi Barrens Moran is taking extra precautions to protect her teenage son, who has a rare genetic disorder and a weakened immune system, to prevent another bout of the virus. The two have been battling high fever since contracting the virus in the winter. Now as Health care providers will drop the country’s last mask order, Moran asks her allergist to wear a mask and repeatedly draws stares and questions as to why she still wears a mask.

However, she is also loosening her boundaries and plans to board her first flight since the outbreak began in July for a long-delayed vacation to Hawaii. According to TSA checkpoint data, US airline passengers approached or exceeded 2019 levels for the first time every day in June. Moran plans Wear an N95 mask on the plane, skip takeout restaurants and pack coronavirus tests and the antiviral treatment Paxlovide in her suitcase.

“I think it’s just a lifestyle now that we have to live with, like the flu and whatever,” said Moran, 48, who lives in West Hollywood.

Masks come out at the command of the last refuge: the doctor’s office

Even in hospitals, medical professionals are watching the virus fade into the background.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center cares for fewer than 20 coronavirus patients in its entire system. week, compared to 1,200 at the Omicron tide height in early 2022. Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California saw cases of Covid patients drop from filling 10 to 15 percent of their beds to 5 percent last summer — only half of those with Covid. Northwell Health, New York’s largest health system, has treated a handful of seriously ill Covid patients in recent weeks.

“The epidemic is, for all intents and purposes, over now, but the virus is not yet over,” said Donald Yelley, chief medical officer of UPMC’s Department of Health Services.

Even when transmission is low, the coronavirus is one of the most common respiratory viruses, infecting tens of thousands, experts say.

The virus tore through Sara Ferrario’s suburban D.C. family after her family attended a wedding in Italy in early June. Ferrario, her husband and their 8-year-old daughter tested positive for the first time. Their 12-year-old son contracted the virus for the second time. They have been taking more precautions than others they know: The kids wore masks at school until March, and parents still wear masks at their college teaching jobs.

Ferrari She decides not to let her son, Ollie, attend the fifth grade graduation ceremony where he plays the cello and is awarded for academic achievement. Instead, his three friends stopped by their house to bring the cake, the prize and a A smiley-faced balloon wears an Ollie mask for a celebration at the front — a social-distancing scene that commemorates the first year of the pandemic.

“I didn’t want to blow up someone else’s summer plans,” Ferrario said, adding that her family was able to try out a free kit from the local library.

But now, affordable testing is out of reach for many Americans because the federal government has stopped sending out free supplies and insurers don’t want them to cover it. Experts worry that small chains of transmission may break when some people still have backlogs of tests, when people experience cold-like symptoms or stop testing before large gatherings.

For long-time Covid naysayers, the pandemic is far from over.

“We are in a challenging time where for most people, Covid is currently a mild illness that is indistinguishable from other respiratory infections,” said Jackson, the CDC official. We encourage people to check as much as possible, but we understand that it is not always possible at this time.

Public health officials say the best thing Americans can do to protect themselves is to keep up-to-date with their vaccinations When a new incentive arises They are designed to target the latest variants this fall.

But the dosage of the most recent bivalent booster is low: Only 17 percent of all Americans — and 43 percent 65 and older — received the shot in 2015. May 10According to the CDC.

For children under 5 years of age – 18 percent – the incentive is low and their parents have a hard time getting the vaccines.

Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, said pharmacies often don’t give shots to babies, leaving doctors’ offices as the best place to get them. But some physicians hesitate to stock vaccines that have low demand, special storage requirements, and come in vials. Unused amounts often go to waste.

Activists fighting to keep Covid-19 at the forefront say retreat is premature as the virus preys on the most vulnerable – it has killed 40,000 so far this year. Hundreds still die every day, and long-term Covid continues to wreak lasting havoc on otherwise healthy people.

“This is still a novel virus. It’s only been three years,” he said. Lara Germanus, a primary care physician in Massachusetts and an activist at People’s CDC, an organization that advocates for masks in hospitals and the expansion of free PCR testing. “Covid can disable you every additional time you have a covid infection.”

Moon Palace Bookstore in Minneapolis is one of the rare businesses to maintain a mask mandate. Owner: Angela Schweindel She says she does it to protect her employees and their immunocompromised relatives, but she’s already facing more resistance from clients who don’t even wear masks in their doctor’s offices.

“I would love to see Covid actually pass,” Schwesnedl said. But this is not the reality.

Still some infectious diseases, doctors who warned to be careful for three years, now encourage patients to put aside their worries and enjoy this summer.

“Social isolation is not good for us, and it’s important to get back to some of our activities,” said Stephen Parodi, who manages the Covid-19 response for Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

Julie Garrel, who contracted the virus while on vacation in Denver last year, says she plans to stop thinking about the virus this summer. (At least until you agree to an interview). She loves dancing in bars, seeing people’s smiles and attending concerts without feeling like a masked outsider. It was impossible to keep up the precautions when the rest of her family wasn’t around.

Letting go made her happier.

“This virus has been in my emotional equation for a while, and in retrospect, I think it took an unnecessary place,” said Garrel, 63, of Bethesda.

“I could no longer opt out of concerts, crowded bars, and trips to ‘red’ states. So here I am.”

Nirapil and Yarber reported from Washington, while Reagan reported from Minneapolis. Emily Guskin in Washington and Karen Alexander in San Mateo, California, contributed to this report.


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