It's hard to imagine it's only been three years since scenes of HAZMAT tents and makeshift beds outside of hospitals became tattooed in our memory; the beginning of a once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic. A pandemic that ended and up-ended so many lives.

"I think at this point if we think about what life was like pre-February 2020, we're kind of at that point," says Mercy Health chief medical officer Dr. Jim Kravec.

Perhaps just as hard to imagine - the World Health Organization officially declaring the COVID pandemic no longer a health emergency.
A declaration Kravec sees as much needed good news; a new phase of the pandemic not dominated by preventive measures like masks and social distancing.

"For the most part it's personal preference, what people are comfortable with," said Kravec.

"It's really something, isn't it?" mused Dr. Ben Neuman, a Valley native and virologist at Texas A&M University. For him, this new phase of the pandemic still carries risk.

"It looks as though this is going to be a thing that flares up from time to time, mainly driven by new variants that are different enough from the vaccine strains that they can get through the immunity we have," Neuman said. "It's probably a better reflection of the political reality just how fed up everybody is, than the medical reality."

But our being tired of the virus won't make it go away.
That's why both doctors suggest you talk to your doctor to assess your own health picture and how to best navigate this next phase of COVID.