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caption: A 15-minute, at-home Covid test.
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A 15-minute, at-home Covid test.
Credit: Dyer Oxley / KUOW

'Our roller coaster ride isn't over.' Public health officials navigate current pandemic moment

The United States is approaching one million deaths from Covid-19, a figure far and above other countries around the world. As pandemic restrictions are lifting, both at the state level and federally, how are public health officials navigating tracking and guidance?

Host Jeannie Yandel spoke with Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer for Public Health King County and Seattle Public Health.

"I don't think anyone could have imagined when we first recognized this emerging pandemic, that there would be one million of our friends, family members, colleagues dead in just a couple of years," Duchin said. "We've made a lot of progress with this outbreak, but we clearly have a long way to go."

Dr. Duchin cautions against celebrating the end of the pandemic too soon, especially as cases rebound and hospitalizations rise in pockets of the Washington state and the country at large. While Washington no longer mandates masks in public, Public Health strongly recommends Washingtonians mask up.

"Our roller coaster ride isn't over," Duchin said.

He cited the efficacy of vaccines, antiviral drugs and a better understanding of Covid-19 as boons to our lower case loads and hospitalizations.

"Despite the fact that the threat from Covid-19 has decreased substantially from those early days, it has not disappeared," Duchin said. "And we have significant uncertainty about where we're headed."

Hear the full conversation with Dr. Jeffrey Duchin by clicking the audio above.