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'We are still living in a pandemic': Colorado expert says in light of Fauci's 'out of the pandemic phase' announcement

Dr. González-Fisher and Vanessa Bernal talked to 9NEWS about the nation's transition phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and Colorado's current COVID-19 cases.

COLORADO, USA — Last week, America's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the country was no longer in a "pandemic phase." Even though he later backtracked and said the U.S. was entering a transitionary phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, it raises the question of whether or not people should adjust their thinking about COVID-19. 

In this week's segment, Dr. Ricardo González-Fisher with Servicios de la Raza, and Vanessa Bernal with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) joined 9NEWS host Chris Bianchi to discuss what Fauci's announcement means for the people of Colorado and the current COVID-19 case numbers in the state.

According to González-Fisher, when we’re talking about a pandemic, we’re talking about more than two places in different areas of the world that are affected by the virus and currently, he said, more than 39 million people are infected worldwide, "so, we are still living in a pandemic." 

"The way that I see this, is that we’re coming out of the emergency phase in the United States," he added.

(Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for context and clarity.)

9NEWS: What does being out of the pandemic phase mean for Coloradans? 

According to González-Fisher, not being in the pandemic phase means that fewer resources will be dedicated to managing the pandemic. That means there will be fewer testing sites, vaccines will begin to be distributed through normal avenues. That means people will have to go to their doctor, clinic or pharmacy to receive a vaccine. And even with the availability of at-home testing and treatment, "this is going to be a disease that is going to stay with us for a long period of time," he said.

What is your biggest general concern at this stage of the pandemic?

What worries Gonzalez-Fisher most is that people will let their guard down and stop thinking that this is actually an emergency. He said that COVID-19 is still a highly contagious virus. 

According to Gonzalez-Fisher, Coloradans should use common sense and still act like the state is in a contagious stage. 

“I try to tell people in the Latino communities, that at least one of two is not vaccinated, he said. "So you have to think that the person who's sitting next to you is not vaccinated."

Gonzalez-Fisher recommends that people continue to take precautionary measures such as washing hands, wearing masks in indoor public places where they will be for long periods of time, avoiding unnecessary gatherings and getting tested if people have COVID-19 symptoms. 

He also said there is a new omicron variant in South Africa that, according to him, is believed to be bringing a fifth surge in that region, and added that there is a growth of cases in the northeastern United States. 

Colorado is seeing an increase in the seven-day moving average positivity rate, which he said is already getting uncomfortable because the state always wants to be below 5%.

Bernal said the state saw an increase in the seven-day moving average positivity rate. It's sitting currently at 6.15% as of Tuesday. 

The lastest COVID data for Colorado as of Tuesday are as follows:  

  • 486 reported cases 
  • 30 new hospitalizations 
  • 103 people hospitalized with COVID-19, of which 43% are not vaccinated  

This information can also be found on the state's webpage at Covid19.colorado.gov.

Some of Bernal's key messages this week to Coloradans were that immunizations and follow-up boosters are important and available statewide. She also said that if people do get sick, treatments are available statewide, adding that people can still get free at-home tests at community distribution sites.

Servicios De La Raza, the state's largest nonprofit serving Latinos, will continue to offer their vaccination clinic every Tuesday from 4-8 p.m. at the organization, which is located at 3131 W. 14th Ave. 

On Thursday and Friday mornings, they will also hold mobile clinics at the Mexican consulate located at 5350 Leetsdale Dr. #100. from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

No appointments are necessary and no form of identification is required. 

RELATED: Expert says Coloradans shouldn't ditch masks entirely as mask mandates end

RELATED: Colorado expected to see an increase in COVID-19 cases, expert says

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