JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gov. Mike Parson says Missouri is ready to transition to an endemic phase of the COVID pandemic starting on April 1.
“The COVID-19 crisis is over in the state of Missouri, and we are moving on,” said Gov. Parson during an afternoon briefing.
Gov. Parson said COVID cases and hospitalizations have decreased dramatically since their January peak. He also said COVID transmission is at its lowest level since the pandemic began in March of 2020. Parson also explained that most Missourians have some immunity to the virus through past infection or the vaccine.
“Over the past two years, we have learned a lot that will help us respond to future outbreaks and challenges that may come our way,” said Gov. Parson.
The state says besides vaccines, testing and treatment options, it also has expanded its capabilities in areas of PPE, hospital capacity, and data collection.
Paula Nickelson , the Acting Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, said the endemic phase means COVID is now at a constant presence in our population and will be considered like many other diseases.
The transition means contract tracing will stop, but health officials will still monitor the disease. Nickelson said the surveillance will be like that of influenza. The state will also stop providing daily updates to its dashboards and will be providing weekly updates.
Nickelson and Gov. Parson both stressed that this doesn’t mean COVID is no longer present. They say spikes and outbreaks are expected. Nickelson said there is presence of the BA.12 strain of the Omicron variant in the state and they will be monitoring the virus.
The acting health director also said the state would not push for any mask mandates in the future.
“Everyone knew this day was coming, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone,” said Gov. Parson.