ST. LOUIS – Affinia Healthcare has been on the front lines of the COVID crisis since the pandemic began. Dr. Kendra Holmes, the company’s senior vice president, says the underserved areas of north St. Louis City and County are seeing a dramatic new surge of cases.

According to Holmes, the COVID positivity rate had gotten down to around 3%. It’s now soared to around 40%. Much of that increase is due to the BA.5 omicron subvariant.

If there is a silver lining to that news, Holmes says there are far fewer hospitalizations.

Holmes says we must employ what we’ve been doing all along to fight COVID, like vaccinations, practicing social distancing, and wearing facemasks. The doctor believes COVID is here to stay, just like the flu. She says we just have to learn to live with it.

She says part of the problem now is that people have become frustrated dealing with all the COVID mitigation measures, like masks.

“I think this is a constantly evolving situation,” she said. “I think once we reach a point where the virus is endemic, just like we have seasonal issues and seasonal colds with respiratory illness, I think once we reach that point. It will always be a part of our lives. It’s not going to magically disappear. It’s always going to be a part of us but we know how to better treat this disease.”

Holmes cautions we may be stuck with masks for a long time.

“So this is the thing – no one wants a mask mandate no one wants that,” she said. “But we have to really pivot, so when there are issues where there’s a surge, we may have to personally make that decision. ‘Hey, let’s mask up while we’re indoors.’”



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