On Wednesday, March 30th during a press conference at the State Capitol, Governor Mike Parson announced an end to the COVID-19 crisis in Missouri and that the state will be shifting to an endemic phase of the pandemic on Friday, April 1, 2022.
A whole-of-government COVID-19 emergency response was taken for more than two years, an effort that responded to the needs of all Missourians during the global pandemic and sustained state operations as more was learned about the novel virus. Vaccines, testing resources, and treatments are now readily available for all Missourians, and much of the population now has some immunity to the virus.
“Over the past two years, we have learned a lot that will help us respond to future outbreaks and challenges that may come our way,” Governor Parson said. “We don’t know if this virus will ever completely go away, but we do know that there is no longer a need to live in crisis mode and that we can shift our response to meet the current needs of Missourians. The COVID-19 crisis is over in the state of Missouri, and we are moving on.”
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, is expected to continue to circulate in communities, meaning it will be considered endemic like many other diseases. The endemicity also means that surveillance priority will change from monitoring case numbers to monitoring disease severity and societal impact as new waves of infection come and go. This transition does not minimize the continued importance of public health surveillance, investigation, and response activities, as is necessary to mitigate any disease.
“As we enter this phase of our state’s recovery, we continue to encourage Missourians to safeguard their own health and the health of loved ones through tried and true public health measures,” said Department of Health and Senior Services Acting Director Paula Nickelson. “Missourians should feel confident that we will remain vigilant when monitoring COVID-19 levels throughout the state.”
Over the past two years, the state was able to achieve some incredible milestones in responding to COVID-19:
- More than 14 million tests performed by public health partners
- More than 81,000 treatment courses distributed by the State of Missouri
- More than 8.7 million doses administered by public health partners
In addition to vaccines, testing, and treatment options, which are some of the most effective tools to fight COVID-19, Missouri has expanded capabilities over the past two years in areas of personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital capacity, and data collection. These capabilities allow Missouri to adapt to changing needs regarding COVID-19 in the future.
Missouri’s approach moving forward will allow state and local health officials to closely monitor community level of COVID-19, determine which variants of SARS-CoV-2 are circulating through the genomic surveillance, and assess disease severity and impact of COVID-19-associated illnesses.
Beginning Friday, the Department of Health and Senior Services will provide weekly dashboard updates that will include 7-day case rate data, activity by region and county, statewide data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, and circulating virus variants. This is a flexible approach allowing accommodation for future surges, should they occur, and require more frequent updates and additional datasets.
More information about vaccines, testing resources, and treatment options along with the updated COVID-19 dashboard and details about this phase of the pandemic can be found by visiting health.mo.gov/coronavirus.