Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the COVID-19 pandemic is entering a new phase, but she stopped short of saying it’s over completely in a new interview on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.

What she said: Walensky said on the Monday night edition of “NBC Nightly News” that the pandemic is beginning to settle and normality is returning.

  • “I think we are in a new phase where we can start to getting back to doing many of the things that we have liked to do and where we have to remain vigilant,” she said.
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Yes, but: She said she isn’t sure that COVID-19 is over completely.

  • “We certainly hope so. We certainly have a lot of immunity in the population, more and more people getting vaccinated, more and more people getting boosted. We have some immunity from prior infection. But with certainty, we don’t know.” 

Why it matters: Experts have been worried that another new COVID-19 variant will emerge soon, as I reported for the Deseret News.

  • Local leaders find themselves in a “honeymoon period” with fewer COVID-19 restrictions, but that could end if a new COVID-19 wave begins, experts said.
  • Multiple public health experts told The Guardian that local government and health leaders should use the ongoing lull period to prepare for the next COVID-19 outbreak.

One more thought to go: Walensky advised Americans “not to shred” their face masks, but to keep them safe for the future.

  • “I would say put your masks in a drawer, anticipate you may need them again and hope that we don’t,” she said.