NEW YORK -- Despite a recent uptick in COVID cases, the nation's top infectious disease expert says we're in a new phase when it comes to the pandemic.
CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis spoke to doctors Wednesday to clarify what is going on in the Tri-State Area.
"We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase. Namely, we don't have 900,000 new infections a day," Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Fauci is now clarifying the comments made Tuesday, saying the pandemic isn't over, but the U.S. has "decelerated" and transitioned into more of a controlled phase.
But this comes as numbers tick up.
New York City's seven-day average is 7.12 percent, compared to the 28-day average of 5.62 percent. The state also has a seven-day average over 7 percent. Just a month ago, it was 2.4 percent.
Experts believe the numbers are underreported due to the availability of at-home tests.
"I think this was expected, especially over the holidays, since many of the holidays overlapped," said Dr. Frederick Davis, the associate chair of emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
But Davis said this time is different.
"What is good is the cases that we are seeing of COVID are not really that sick. There's still small numbers that are requiring admissions," Davis said.
That sentiment was echoed by Dr. Daniel Varga of Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey.
"And even more profoundly, the number of people in ICUs and the number of people on ventilators is trivial compared to what it used to be," Varga said.
But still, both doctors are urging precautions. Getting even a mild COVID case comes with the risk of becoming a long-hauler.
"We still don't really know all there is to know about COVID and the long-term effects of that, which also, again, stresses the importance of you probably don't want to get COVID," Davis said.
Fauci said we're not going to eradicate the disease.
"If we can keep the level very low and intermittently vaccinate people -- that might be every year, that might be longer in order to keep that level low," Fauci said.
Steps to learn how to live with a virus that doctors are still learning about.
"Is it gonna be like a lot of viruses where it is just always there, but at a low level because we have some herd immunity around this? Or is it gonna be something like the flu that pops in and hits us every four to six months out of the year?" Varga said.
But doctors say one thing we know for sure is masks are effective. One said that since we've been taking masks off, they've actually seen more cases of flu, and suggested masking up in public transportation and tight spaces, especially during times like these when numbers are up.
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