This week the Biden Administration unveiled actions to make at-home COVID tests and N95 masks available, free of charge, to hundreds of millions of Americans. However, even as US COVID hospitalizations have now surpassed last winter’s previous peak, two newly-approved COVID antiviral drugs remain scarce. Just as fast as Omicron has surged across the country, it may be starting to recede, with cases beginning to drop in several states in the Northeast. Modelers now project the incredibly contagious variant will infect 40 percent of Americans and more than half the human race by the end of March.
The Gist: Absent another significant variant, experts are cautiously optimistic that enough of the US population will soon have either infection-acquired or vaccine-induced immunity that we may be nearing the end of the pandemic, and the beginning of “endemic COVID.”
The US must now shift from COVID “war footing” to learning how to live with the virus long term. That will mean tackling difficult and politically-charged decisions, such as what level of testing and masking are sustainable, and how many COVID deaths we are willing to tolerate.