Coronavirus

When Should COVID Restrictions Start to Ease? Health Experts Weigh in

Health experts have a variety of views about how and when COVID-19 safety restrictions should be cut back

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As we begin to learn to live with COVID-19, public health experts are discussing what's next.

"As case numbers fall and hospital capacity improves meaningfully, we should relax public health restrictions, including mask mandates and indoor gathering limits," argued Brown University's Dr. Ashish Jha.

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"This is an area where reasonable people will very much disagree," said Dr. Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center.

Doron says to that end, we as a society need to start getting actual measurable goals in place for when we increase or decrease public health restrictions in response to COVID.

"If we continue to keep everything in place when cases are low, as we do when cases are high," said Doron, "then people are not going to properly frame the risk and modify their behaviors accordingly when the cases are high."

"Because mandates are costly and should be used sparingly, and because during future surges, we may need to ask people to pull back or mask up again," Jha said. "Preserving people's willingness to do things is critical."

Top Boston doctors talk about next steps now that the omicron surge has peaked, the new omicron subvariant BA.2, variant-specific vaccines, natural immunity and masks in schools on NBC10 Boston’s weekly “COVID Q&A” series.

"To preserve confidence among the public in why we do this in the first place," said Mass General Brigham's Dr. Paul Biddinger.

Biddinger says we also have to recognize we're in a much different place than we were a year ago.

"The more things we have with vaccines, boosters, therapies, testing," said Biddinger, "the more we can let COVID sort of fade into the background."

Jha said he believes we could reach pre-omicron case levels in Massachusetts in the next couple of weeks, with the rest of the country not far behind.

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