California plans to become the first state to treat Covid as a manageable, endemic risk as the country begins to move toward some level of normalcy, The Washington Post reports.
With Omicron-inspired restrictions being lifted across the country, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that his administration is planning for the next phase.
“We are moving past the crisis phase into a phase where we will work to live with this virus,” he told reporters.
“People are looking forward to turning the page,” he added. “They also need to know we have their back, we’re going to keep them safe, and we’re going to stay on top of this.”
Newsom said the state would shift from a “crisis mentality” to focusing on prevention and adaptability.
Newsom said that the state’s new policies will allow officials to detect and contain outbreaks on a local level. The plan also includes steps to combat misinformation and stockpile supplies.
Newsom’s “smarter” plan stands for shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education and Rx.
The plan calls to stockpile 75 million masks, an increase in vaccination and testing numbers, monitoring wastewater for Covid data, and quickly responding to local outbreaks by contracting staffing companies.
“This pandemic won’t have a defined end. There’s no finish line,” Newsom. “There is no end date.”
Several countries have effectively taken similar steps, lifting their Covid restrictions to treat the virus as endemic.
But US officials said the country is not there yet.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top Covid adviser, said that it was important to move slowly.
“You don’t want to be reckless and throw everything aside, but you’ve got to start inching towards” normality, he told Reuters.
“We’re moving toward a time when covid isn’t a crisis, but is something we can protect against and treat. The president and our covid team are actively planning for the future,” White House Covid Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters last week.
“This is not a situation where you have a flip of the switch, like, we’re pandemic one day and then we switch to endemic,” Albert Ko, chair of the department of epidemiology and microbial diseases at the Yale School of Public Health, told The Post last month. “This is a gradual process, and this is the process that we’re undergoing now.”