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Is the U.S. out of COVID-19 'pandemic phase'? Perhaps, but Jacksonville doctor warns not to be foolish

Dr. Fauci appeared on PBS NewsHour and explained low level of cases and hospitalizations resulted in U.S. being out of 'pandemic phase' of COVID-19.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It's been a long two years, full of COVID-19 regulations and mandates. 

Now, some experts say we are moving out of that era.

Appearing on PBS NewsHour, Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the prevalence of COVID-19 in the United States and suggested, "If you are saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country? We are."

Fauci explained infections are at a level where the disease could be considered an 'endemic' – meaning it's still around but limited to a particular region. 

It is promising news, but Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Frederick Southwick says people don't need to let their guard down.

"Everybody wants this to be over, but the fact is, it's not and wishing it was so just doesn't help," he told First Coast News.

The CDC reports the seven-day average of deaths in the US has dropped 90 percent since January 2021 when there were 3,381. In April 2022, that number fell to 299, on a daily average.

The number of daily cases has fallen by more than that since the start of this year. The CDC says there were 760,941 cases, on average, in January 2022. 

In April, the average daily number of cases is 48,692. 

Southwick is encouraged by the numbers, but still warns against large parties. "Don't be foolish. I think large gatherings, like large weddings, they are in enclosed spaces," he said.

In Florida, 74% of those 5 and older are vaccinated.

The vaccination rate in our largest First Coast counties range from 58 to 74%. The state's most recent report can be found here

Southwick is a proponent of the vaccine and says that's the biggest factor in keeping infections under control.

"If you are vaccinated, you dramatically reduce the risk of serious disease and hospitalization," he said.

To find where you can get a vaccine, click here