AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite Monday’s announcement of zero new COVID-19 hospitalizations in Austin, a doctor with UT Austin’s Dell Medical School says the virus is here to stay — we’ll just have to learn to live with it.
Dr. Parker Hudson, an infectious diseases specialist and assistant professor of internal medicine, said as we transition from the pandemic to endemic stage, there are certain things to keep in mind.
“For the most part, COVID will become another cold virus and upper respiratory infection,” he said. “It will come in waves or surges, most likely in the wintertime.”
The doctor said just like the flu, people who are older and those with medical comorbidities will remain at risk of more severe infection and potential hospitalization.
“It’s important as we move forward, that we really focus our efforts on protecting the most vulnerable,” Hudson said.
What about masks in the endemic stage?
On the topic of masks, Dr. Hudson said young, healthy, and vaccinated people will, for the most part, see little benefit from masking in the endemic stage.
“Where masks will remain important is when the surges come,” he explained. “For example, in the winter, as transmission increases, masks will be one of the tools that will likely be reemployed to reduce transmission.”
Hudson said for the vulnerable population, mask-wearing will remain important in indoor spaces, particularly among large crowds.
The doctor said to keep in mind, restaurants and bars will remain likely places for the virus to spread, even in the endemic.
“The transmission dynamics have not changed for the Coronavirus,” Hudson said.
What about vaccinations moving forward?
“I expect people who are fully vaccinated and boosted will at some point likely need another shot,” the doctor said, adding that the timing for those shots is currently unknown.
Hudson urged those who haven’t received their booster, or never received a first vaccine dose after recovering from COVID to get their shots.
“So far, what we’re seeing is the vaccines have maintained excellent effectiveness against severe disease or death,” he said.
You can find COVID-19 vaccination and testing resources on Austin Public Health’s website.