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Stanislaus County Looks To Drop Local Emergency, Prepares For Possible Endemic

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -- Two years into the pandemic, one local county is looking to change up it's COVID-19 response by dropping it's emergency order and working toward treating the crisis like an endemic.

After years of mask mandates and COVID-19 protocols, you might be wondering just how long this pandemic is going to last.

"I mean, it's not going anywhere," said West Sacramento resident Charles Marlborough

"Eventually, it's going to get to the point where it's the cold or the flu," said Robert Wallace.

So, what is an endemic and how do we get there?

"That would be something like influenza. It occurs every year at a regular level," explained UC Davis Health Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Dean Blumberg. "It doesn't occur in a pandemic, it's not wildly out of control and it's not totally eliminated," he said.

If we reach that level, Blumberg believes would could see fewer restrictions.

"Once this is an endemic disease, then what we get is there is a lot less controversy out there. Then we don't need mandates, we don't need mask mandates, immunization mandates," Blumberg said. "It means it occurs a low enough level and people have enough partial protection that they can make choices themselves whether they want to be protected by the disease or not."

In Stanislaus County the Board of Supervisors is looking to end their local emergency order.

"I think it has limited our ability to serve the public," explained Board Chairman, Terry Withrow.

If the proposal passes, it will give the administrative power back to supervisors and change their COVID response to a long-term maintenance of the virus.

"In the future, if there is a need for something else to be done differently, it will come to our board before that decision happens," said Withrow.

The resolution detailed: "As there is now a level of protection against severe COVID-19 in most county residents, disease management shifts from pandemic-related strategies to a new focus recognizing COVID-19 will likely reach endemic status in 2022 and join other common respiratory illnesses circulating in the community."

Strategies would change from a pandemic approach to endemic approach. Their goals include increase in-person education, community treatment services and ensure testing while allowing their community to go back to normal.

"We feel like at this point we are there. We are at a spot where we are comfortable, our rates are going down, our hospitalizations are going down," said Withrow.

A step toward possibly declaring an endemic a move if not made by the state would come from the county's public health officer.

"Hopefully, it is the beginning of the end to what we have been dealing with the last two years. I hope that's what this is. This is our step forward to start to tell everyone we have to get back to living again," he said.

Stanislaus County's local health order will remain in place, even if the board votes to remove the county's emergency order Tuesday.

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