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Omaha expert says end of COVID-19 public health emergency 'doesn't mean the disease is gone'

UNMC's Chief of Infectious Diseases says the prevalence of Covid disease is going down
Posted at 10:44 PM, May 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-11 23:44:24-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Chief of Infectious Diseases at UNMC, Dr. Mark Rupp said all the signals for COVID-19 are headed in the right direction.

"It doesn't mean the pandemic is over, it doesn't mean the disease is gone, but it clearly shows that it is less impactful for our community," Rupp said.

He said the prevalence of the disease is going down and the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 is decreasing. But he encourages people to continue to pay attention and take precautions.

"There is nothing to say that the virus won't mutate and have a new variant that emerges that could potentially be more virulent or more easily transmitted or might be resistant to our medications or resistant to our immune system," Dr. Rupp said.

He said that is all possible but feels we are in a good spot right now. So what happens if you catch COVID-19 now?
Dr. Rupp said testing is still recommended and there are medications available, but the isolation procedures remain the same.

"This virus hasn't changed. You are still going to be shedding it, you still could spread it to other people. And so it makes sense that you would want to stay off work, stay off school, remain in isolation while you are sick," Rupp said. "If you are at high risk, stay up to date on your vaccination. If you are at high risk, you know, there are some prudent things that you can do to limit your risk. So keeping out of harm's way when it's possible, is a good idea."

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, if you test positive; stay home for at least 5 days, based on your symptoms and then a mask should be worn in public through day 10. For more information about current procedures, visit the CDC website.

Rupp added that the public health emergency ending will make it more difficult to know what COVID-19 looks like in our community. He said it could impact testing available and possibly the cost of vaccination and medication in the future.

But for right now he said those resources should be available.

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