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Pa. COVID-19 cases are down, but what does that mean for the omicron variant?

Dr. Julie Morita says Pennsylvania and the country aren't yet in the clear from the highly transmissible variant.

The latest data from the CDC shows Pennsylvania COVID-19 case numbers have declined by about 10% throughout the past week, but does that mean we could be nearing the end of the omicron variant's surge?

Dr. Julie Morita, a member of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee to the Director, says while cases may be dropping in some areas, the country is not in the clear yet.

“When I look nationally, and I look at other states, there still are some places where the disease rates are really high, and they're not necessarily leveling or decreasing...so we're not really out of the woods yet," said Morita. 

CDC data shows that only 67% of people in the U.S. ages five and older are fully vaccinated, making the country vulnerable to the spread of disease.

Morita said looking at the past two years of data and the track record of the virus' ebb and flow, we still have a long way to go.

“What has happened every few months with this pandemic is [that] we have a surge based on a new variant that emerges, disease rates go down, we relax and then there's another variant that occurs," she noted. 

The solution, according to Morita, is continued practice of public health measures like masking, vaccinations and boosters to help keep hospitals open and available to deal with the current caseloads.

"What we have is really high rates of disease that are really stressing our healthcare systems to the point that some people are having to really prioritize who gets health care," said Morita. "So I think we really have to get through this particular wave of activity, and then start thinking about how it is that we can maintain our society…from a health care delivery perspective to really continue life through this pandemic.”

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