State epidemiologist talks end of pandemic: “We just have such a long way to go before we’re there.”


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – New COVID-19 cases are on the downward slope, leaving many of us wondering when this pandemic might come to an end.

Despite that downward trend, state epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said it’ll be more than a year before this pandemic is over, but even then, we may not be in the clear. At this point, she said it’s likely we’ll transition to an endemic.

“It is not over yet,” she said. “It is likely that humans will be able to get this virus over and over again unless they are able to maintain high immunity through vaccination.”

Dr. Dillaha said reaching an endemic means the spread will have gone down and those who do get the virus will have milder cases.

“We just have such a long way to go before we’re there.”

But even when the official emergency ends, the other effects of the pandemic could drag on, like the impact on our economy.

A tremendous amount of the problems are pandemic-related.”

Jeff Cooperstein, University of Arkansas Economist

Cooperstein said you can see these problems here in Northwest Arkansas, starting with supply chain issues and inflation numbers going up.

“You still have workers with either the fear of Covid going back, some people have probably sat because of unemployment,” he said. “That extra unemployment is gone and yet we still don’t have all the workers coming back.”

It is not just Dr. Dillaha who says it all depends on getting that vaccination rate up to get back to normalcy. Top economists are stressing the importance of vaccines as well.

According to the International Chamber of Commerce, economic recovery this year depends on if we can reach a high level of immunity. If not enough people get vaccinated, it could cost the world economy more than $9.2 trillion- causing more devastation than the financial crisis in 2008.

Dr. Dillaha said it will take a lot more people to get on board with it.

This is a situation where it’s going to depend on countries to collaborate with each other to ensure that the populations around the world can get vaccines.”


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