Let’s not confuse the terms “pandemic” and “emergency.” As Abraar Karan, an infectious disease physician and researcher at Stanford University, said, “The pandemic is over until you are scrunched in bed, feeling terrible.”

Pandemics are defined by neither time nor severity, but rather by large numbers of ongoing infections worldwide. Emergencies are acute and declared to trigger an urgent response. Ending the official emergency shifted the responsibility for curbing covid from leaders to the public. In the United States, it meant, for example, that the government largely stopped covering the cost of covid tests and vaccines.

But the virus is still infecting people; indeed, it is surging right now.

With changes in the nature of the pandemic and the response, KFF Health News spoke with doctors and researchers about how to best handle covid, influenza, and other respiratory ailments spreading this season.

A holiday wave of sickness has ensued as expected. Covid infections have escalated nationwide in the past few weeks, with analyses of virus traces in wastewater suggesting infection rates as high as last year. More […]

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