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University of Kentucky's public health professionals give their COVID-19 endemic outlook

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Posted at 6:45 PM, Feb 18, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — More states are considering what life will look like after the COVID-19 pandemic. California recently released its post-pandemic plans. Now, Kentucky public health professionals are talking about what would have to happen in our state.

California recently released its "SMARTER" endemic plan – but what could plans look like in Kentucky?

To reach endemic status, “the population has acquired a certain level of immunity -- either through vaccination or infection,” says the University of Kentucky’s Dean of the College of Public Health, Dr. Donna Arnett. “And there will be new virus mutations that come about and cause a surge in infections,” like the flu the virus will be with us permanently.

California's "SMARTER" outlines plans to combat COVID moving forward. Leaders say the bluegrass state did well early on.

"I think Kentucky also has been very active in getting our population vaccinated, particularly those at highest risk,” said Dr. Arnett.

As of Thursday, Kentucky’s positivity rate is at 15%– down from nearly 26% three weeks ago.

"Ideally, we would get to a point where we would have surges perhaps in the winter, like we have done the past two years, around the holidays and post-holidays. But we don't know enough about this virus yet,” says Dr. Arnett.

In a press conference on Thursday, Governor Andy Beshear said when it comes to the spread of COVID health experts hope the state will be out of the red and settle into the green by mid-march. Health leaders remain cautious. While it may not happen just yet, leaders say keep hope alive that we'll reach endemic status soon.

"As a scientist, you know weary to make a bold statement that mid-March will be the end," says Dr. Arnett. "I do think we will continue to see declines, we're going to continue to see these outbreaks as these new variants hit different levels of our population."