Two years ago last month, the coronavirus began to spread across the country. The virulent strain, which most of us had never heard of before it quickly became part of the nation’s vernacular, caused widespread panic and shut down the world seemingly overnight. Businesses sent their employees home to work remotely, schools quickly transitioned to remote learning and elective surgeries were put on hold. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic was sudden and dramatic. Its end, when it arrives, will be gradual and difficult to define.
Infectious disease experts are cautiously optimistic the nation is entering the pandemic’s endemic phase, but healthcare providers are wary of lingering omicron subvariants, including the contagious BA.2 strain, which last month accounted for more than half of new coronavirus infections in the U.S.
Federal guidelines for face coverings have been relaxed and rates of hospitalizations are on the decline across much of the nation, although case counts continue to rise in pockets of the country.