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Pandemic vs endemic | What does it mean?

With a recent uptick of cases and U.S. health officials saying were exiting the pandemic, ABC10's health expert clears up some confusion.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A recent uptick of cases while U.S. health officials are saying we are exiting the pandemic and moving toward an endemic, can cause some confusion.

ABC10 health expert Dr. Payal Kohli explained the term. Endemic means a constant presence of the virus in society. The level of infection can vary and can also come and go. For example, the flu is an endemic disease. It picks up in the winter and drops off in the summer, but the coronavirus is a constant presence. 

In regard to the uptick, Dr. Kohli said she has some concern over another wave of COVID in America. 

"I think that at this point, given where we are with immunity, that's waning and not having updated vaccines, I'm still concerned. Because, if we're going to expect a surge coming later this summer [and] in the fall, as the White House is saying, that could certainly take it back from being endemic to starting to become epidemic again, where we have to really worry about hospital resources getting exhausted and the virus spreading so quickly that it's starting to mutate," Kohli said. 

She said the goal should be to keep COVID at endemic levels by avoiding spikes and surges over the next few months. She said if we become numb to the increase, we'll see more of it. 

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