In the last few years, how many times have you asked yourself, “Is this COVID-19 thing over yet?”

If you are tired of hearing, or seeing, the word pandemic, we may have just gotten the “All Clear.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that the United States is officially “out of the pandemic phase.”

“We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase,” Fauci told PBS on Tuesday evening. 

Fauci said that the United States transitioned out of the pandemic phase because we “don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.”

“If you’re saying, ‘Are we out of the pandemic phase in this country?’ We are.” Fauci confirmed in the above video published by PBS.

The announcement was made the same day that Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID-19, raising the question of if the virus will truly will be eradicated.

Fauci suggested that the virus probably will not be eradicated completely, but by keeping COVID-19 infection levels low, we can stay out of the “pandemic phase.”

However, in Erie County, we are seeing a spike in COVID-19 infections. 

According to the Erie County Department of Health, Western New York is currently experiencing the highest 7-day average positivity rate with Erie County leading the way.

On April 25, there were 716 new COVID-19 cases, with a total of 4,121 cases over the past 7 days. The positivity rate in Erie County alone jumped this week from 18.5 percent to 24.3 percent. 

You can read more about the recent COVID-19 cases here

The recent news from Fauci makes me wonder…will Rochester keep its mask mandate? Will we still have to wear masks on planes?

On Wednesday, April 20, the Regional Transit Service (RTS) in Rochester announced that it would be reinstating their mask mandate for customers and employees, saying that must wear a face mask that covers their nose and mouth on all RTS buses and in the public areas. (Read more about that here.

Would it be repealed again just a week later?

Crazier things have happened. 

Remember when the NFTA announced that they would be ending their mask requirement on April 19 following a statement from four major airlines stating that masks would no longer be required to fly, and within 24 hours, the NFTA reversed that decision again.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority issued this accompanying statement:

“First and foremost, we want to apologize for what is sure to be confusing to our travelers and riders, but due to the Governor’s announcement updating COVID regulations from the New York State Department of Health, masks will still be required in all public transportation entities within the State of New York until further notice. This includes the Buffalo Niagara International and Niagara Falls International Airports, Metro Bus and Rail and all Paratransit services. We will provide any updates or changes to this policy accordingly.  The NFTA will continue to follow the CDC recommendation that encourages people to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time and that everyone should be respectful of those who choose to wear a face covering for their personal safety.” 

Read more on the NFTA’s change here

I’m sure the coronavirus has been a starter of many arguments in Western New York, whether it be due to a friend getting you sick or just simply your opinion on the overall virus, but I think there’s one thing we can all agree on: it will be nice to never hear the word pandemic again.

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