Public health experts are warning local leaders to prepare for a future COVID-19 outbreak as cases continue to drop.

What’s happening: The seven-day average for COVID-19 cases in the United States hovered around 59,000 cases per day last week, a sign that the coronavirus outbreak is still here, though dropping compared to winter peaks.

What to expect: Public health experts recently told The Guardian that leaders should use the ongoing lull period to prepare for future outbreaks.

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What they’re saying: Abraar Karan, an infectious disease physician at Stanford University, told The Guardian the pandemic isn’t over and that officials should use the time right now to prepare for the next COVID-19 variant, which could be more transmissible.

  • “Once we have another variant, whenever that may be, the amount of spread from that variant will depend on what kind of preparedness we do now,” he said. “What are we doing to make schools, workplaces and public spaces more safe?”

What’s next: Dr. Mark Dybul, a professor at Georgetown University Medical Center’s Department of Medicine and immunologist, said back in November — days before the omicron variant arrived — that he expected a new variant to arrive in the spring, per Fortune.

  • “Sadly, every prediction I’ve made has pretty much come true,” he said. “I hope I’m wrong this time, but I think by March, April, May, we will have a fully vaccine-resistant variant. There’s simply no way you can have such low rates of vaccination around the world with the virus ping-ponging between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. I’m an immunologist. The probability of us seeing a vaccine-resistant strain is very high.”

The bottom line: Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, told The Guardian: “We need to expect the unexpected with COVID-19.”