The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our world. From the lives lost, to the mental health toll, to expansion of telehealth, many aspects of our lives will not go back to pre-COVID times. But what impact will the end of the Federal Health Emergency on May 11th have on our lives?

Ziyad Al-Aly, MD is a clinical epidemiologist and Director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center for St. Louis, MO. He spoke with the AmNews about where we are currently regarding COVID-19 infections and why individuals must continue to stay vigilant.

“It’s actually hard to find someone who has not been infected [with COVID],” he says, adding that “it’s more common to find people who’ve been at least infected once, maybe some twice and in some instances, really four or five times.”

Al-Aly says it’s very important for people to realize that COVID is still a novel virus and has not been on Earth for more than three or four years. “it still can wreak havoc with your body, so to the extent possible avoiding the infection is [important],” he adds.

Even after May 11, there are certain aspects of the pandemic landscape that seem firmly entrenched. According to Dr. Kelly Gebo, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine “COVID-19 was something that was a tremendous learning experience for the world and we had the opportunity to come together to work together in a way that I think we probably hadn’t done previously,” she said.

“Unfortunately I think it also revealed some of the [structural inequality] . . .underlying some of the real issues in healthcare. So from my perspective some of the benefits of COVID were that we came together to look at science and companies that previously didn’t work together.”

Some of the aspects of COVID-19 that will stay with us are the therapies and treatments that were created, according to Gebo. A vaccine was developed in only 11 months and “we developed new therapies for treatment such as plasma, Paxlovid. So all of those things I think were real positives,” she said.

The growth and use of telehealth and telemedicine is another change that will remain. According to authors Elham Monaghesh and Alireza Hajizadeh, authors of an article exploring the role of telemedicine in the early days of the pandemic, the importance of this technology was already very clear.

The authors noted that “[a]s the COVID-19 epidemic scales exponentially across the world, calls for expanded use of telehealth as innovative solutions, clearly highlights unmet needs” in the world healthcare system.

They say that telehealth has the potential to address many of the key challenges in providing health services during the outbreak of COVID-19: avoiding direct physical contact, minimizing the risk of COVID transmission, and continuous care. Clinicians and patients are strongly recommended to apply telehealth tools as an appropriate option to prevent and contain COVID-19 infections.

Dr. Gebo also spoke on the importance of telehealth and telemedicine. “People who were working or people who were unable to come to clinic on a regular basis can now check in with their providers on their phones and have a face-to-face visit… and I think that that actually is very helpful and so I’m able to do regular check-ins with some of my patients that I’m more concerned about instead of having them come to clinic, particularly some of my populations of patients who it’s difficult to get to clinic.”

Gabo continued, “I think that telehealth is something that we have to get better at and will be something that we move forward with. We have also gotten better with employing mobile medical devices so sending blood pressure cuffs to people at home glucometers so they can check their blood glucose. . . .It has built a health care system that is remote that is allowing people to do more interactions and more self-measurement and interactions with their health care provider to make decisions as opposed to waiting three months or six months for their next healthcare interaction.”

Other items that will “stay” according to Gebo, include specific hospital and healthcare procedures, many of which were available prior to COVID, but now have become deeply entrenched.

“I think one of the other things that will potentially continue is the idea of wearing masks in the hospital or medical facilities for high risk respiratory flu season or other seasons…. the fact that we as healthcare providers are now wearing masks is an important thing as we care for people who are high risk because they have symptoms so from my perspective I anticipate that during seasons where we have high flu rates or high COVID rates that we will re-implement these probably mandatory masks for healthcare providers in various situations at different times during the year.”

JD Davids is the Co-Director of Strategies for High Impact (S4HI), and is a health justice strategist for networks of disabled and chronically ill people and a queer and trans person living with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), Long COVID, and other complex chronic conditions.

According to Davids “we’d started in January 2022 to really crystallize work that some of us have been doing before and during this ongoing pandemic as chronically ill and disabled people so our work is to build the power of chronically ill and disabled people to fight for and win the policies and programs that help us and our communities have healthy and safe and dignified lives. So in the course of this pandemic even as the pandemic was approaching, the conventional wisdom or the myth was that COVID wouldn’t be that big of a deal because it would only hurt people who are only sick or chronically ill already or are elderly. We think that our lives actually matter and that everyone was talking about us but not to us.”

The centering of people, coupled with the need for more trust, is something that Gebo cited as a real issue in the COVID pandemic during her interview with the AmNews: “I think some of the things that were really complicated where we didn’t understand how it was transmitted and that led to some confusion as to what were the proper public health precautions that should be taken and as we learned more and changed our recommendations that led to feelings of that the government couldn’t be trusted or that people weren’t given the truth. As a scientist, it was very difficult because we were giving what we thought was our best advice at that time. . . with COVID, it was changing on a weekly, if not monthly basis.”

Gebo continued, stating “it developed this misinformation distrust because we were learning more and as we changed our messaging people felt that we were trying to hide things or we weren’t being forthcoming.”

As to where we are headed, according to Dr. Al-Aly “the pandemic is not over. People are dying every day… people [are] getting infected and the virus is evolving… there’s really no guarantee that the next one around the corner will be milder and might be actually more severe so we have to be cautious… our situation today is certainly much better than what we were in March 2020… but we’re really not not out of the woods yet and I really think that people need to be cautious… we’re asking for common sense measures for people to really take care of themselves and their families.”

Gebo also spoke to another aspect of the COVID crisis that may “go,” namely specific health coverage, which could lead to equity issues.

“I think that there’s going to be some states that are going to really have significant swaths of the population who had coverage during COVID that are not going to and we had universal testing and treatment vaccines which rolled out, you know, very quickly, and I think it was well accepted and I think people appreciated that going back to the old way of system if you have health insurance and you can get coverage is going to continue those fissures in the healthcare system.”

For additional resources about COVID-19, visit or call 212-COVID19. COVID-19 testing, masks, and vaccination resources can also be accessed on the AmNews COVID-19 page:

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