BALTIMORE (WJZ) -– Is the pandemic almost over? That question on the minds of millions of Americans after nearly two years of altered schedules, virtual work, sickness within families and major changes to how we live our lives every day.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is now shedding light on where we stand, as a society, as we move forward in the COVID fight.

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Dr. David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at the Bloomberg School, said the data suggests we are in a better spot this year than we were entering the holiday season in 2020, but the coronavirus is not going extinct in the near future, if ever.

James Olsen lives in Montana but was visiting Baltimore and told WJZ, “I think it’s going to be around a long time where we live.”

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Elaine Frazer, a Baltimore resident, said she still has questions about vaccination and booster shots: ”I would ask for guidance for when a young person like me should get a booster shot.”

Dr. Rupali Limaye, a vaccine specialist with the school, said about 60% of the eligible population in the US is vaccinated, and the push now is to get shots into the arms of children aged 5-11. Herd immunity, at least herd immunity that we might have hoped for, might never ne achievable but the vaccine is helping.

“I’m not sure that we’re ever going to go back to the old version of normal,” said Harlem Roberts of Howard County.

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The science doctors cite is positive. A winter surge like the one in 2020 is less likely, but as for COVID disappearing completely, it’s unlikely. And the virus won’t be going anywhere in the near future.

Rachael Cardin