May 11 will mark the official end of the public health emergency (PHE) for COVID-19. While this declaration has certain implications for employers and public spaces, what does this mean to us as individuals?
The good news is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has waned significantly in terms of the number of people affected with the virus, and the severity of the COVID-19 illness has lessened. However, the virus itself has not disappeared. There is no magic end date for the virus to simply go away. We have better treatments for people who get sick from COVID-19, and we have effective vaccines to help ward off infection.
How Will Your Life Change after May 11?
Probably not much! Most people have stopped wearing masks in public places already. I recently took an international flight and noticed that only a handful of people on my plane wore a mask.
In our Encompass Health hospitals, we have prepared for the end of the PHE by changing our masking guidance. Unless there is an outbreak in the vicinity of the hospital, masks are no longer mandatory. However, it is important to continue to respect the wishes of individuals who prefer to wear a mask, and we will continue to supply masks to those individuals if needed.
One Thing is Certain
The Public Health Emergency may be coming to and end, but we need to remain vigilant and expect that another new virus will emerge at some time in the future. To avoid a future pandemic, it is important to continue with good infection control practices. Wash your hands frequently, stay home if you are feeling sick, and if you or someone you know is exposed to the COVID-19 virus, follow the CDC recommendations for quarantining to avoid infecting others! Stay up to date with recommended vaccinations and practice preventive health by seeing your physician regularly.