Return to normal-ish: Is Michigan entering the endemic phase of COVID-19?

'Don't throw all of your mitigation strategies out of the window'
Posted at 11:17 AM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 18:23:59-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — At the popular Cantoro Italian Market & Trattoria in Plymouth, curbside pickup and cross-trained employees have become seamless parts of operating thanks to the pandemic.

Family and friends are able to sit comfortably on the restaurant side, but General Manager Alex Bazzy said things still aren't quite back to normal.

"I do think that the volume is up," he adds. "People are ready to get out, ready to dine out. The restaurant no longer has the spacing issues. Were back to normal in terms of our floor plan."

Restaurants and churches may be some of the best examples of how comfortable people are when it comes to learning to live with COVID-19 and the precautions they take.

"For the most part, it's a no-touch zone," said Bishop Charles Ellis III of Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.

Before the pandemic, churchgoers would greet others with a hug and a handshake.

When case numbers were high, church was held outside on Greater Grace's large campus in Detroit. People could sit in their vehicles and tune to a radio station to hear the sermon.

"It was like a family reunion," said Ellis who plans to incorporate some outdoor sermons during the summer.

So has COVID-19 moved from being a pandemic to being endemic - something that we will just learn to live with? Not yet, according to Dr. Matthew Sims, Director of Infectious Disease Research at Beaumont Health.

But he adds that COVID-19 is still spreading.

"We have way less people in the hospital, but it's still out there," he said.

While restrictions are easing, Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan's Chief Medical Executive, said it's likely that we will still see concerning variants so we can't think of the pandemic as a straight line to the finish.

"We're going to continue to see times where things are relatively higher risk with COVID and then relatively lower risk with COVID," she continues. "And we just need to be able to communicate that with the public that this is a time of relatively lower risk."

Dr. Bagdasarian says, "don't throw all of your mitigation strategies out of the window. You still may want to keep some of those mitigation strategies, depending on your individual risk profile. And then we'll communicate again when things get a little bit more risky, and when we want people to dial up those mitigation strategies."