MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As Minnesota approaches the second anniversary of COVID’s arrival in the state, the virus continues its downward decline.
Since reaching a peak during the omicron variant’s spread at the start of the year, weekly new cases, percent positivity rates, and other indicating factors of the virus’s spread have dropped each subsequent week. The most recent data shows the state’s percent positivity rate dropping below 5% for the first time since August.
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“If you look at the rates, at the percent positivity and what’s called the case rate, they are at a great level,” said Dr. George Morris, COVID-19 incident commander at CentraCare.
As the virus approaches its two-year mark, Morris says he never initially anticipated Minnesotans would deal with it for so long.
“These serial waves, repeated waves were not really anticipated,” he said.
Instead, the virus has taken a trajectory similar to the 1918 influenza outbreak in America, a slow burn with a series of waves, each slightly less deadly but more contagious.
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“The influenza virus stuck around, just in a much weakened state. Our goal would be that COVID sticks around but becomes a background virus, the term is an endemic virus,” Morris said.
Which means even if COVID-19 does stick around, it would not be the same type of virus the world has dealt with since 2020.
“I would expect another wave,” he said. “It’s not going to be as bad, hopefully it won’t be as high, hopefully it won’t be as harsh, but COVID, the coronavirus, that family of viruses is really tricky and really unique.”
Morris says now the challenge for policy makers will be devising mechanisms and strategies that can detect global risks early on and respond accordingly. Most times, he says, it will not require shutdowns.
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“We should not consider it a failure if COVID comes back again. We should consider that a typical lifespan of viruses,” he said.