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ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. — State and local St. Clair County-sponsored COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites have shut down in St. Clair County, marking another return toward pre-pandemic life.

“We do see a sustainment in that low transmission rate locally in the community levels,” said St. Clair County Health Department executive director Myla Blandford. “We are hopeful that will continue through the summer.”

Blandford said the department will remain vigilant of any new variants abroad and locally. An Omicron sub-variant BA2 has resulted in big spikes in cases in Asia and parts of Europe. She said respiratory illnesses typically wane in the summer and go up in the fall, so she believes this fall will be an indicator of the pandemic.

St. Clair County will continue to keep track of its pandemic numbers daily, but that’s not the same case for the state of Missouri’s Department of Public Health. 

Friday started the endemic recovery phase in Missouri, according to Governor Mike Parson. This means the state will treat COVID-19 like it does any other virus and there will no longer be contact tracing. Instead of daily reporting, the state will change it to weekly reporting on positivity rates and testing.

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health did not agree with the state’s change. The department said in a statement in part, “Regardless of what we call it, the pandemic has exacted an enormous toll, causing thousands of deaths and leaving many more individuals with lasting symptoms. Although case numbers are currently low, COVID-19 is still active in our community and across the country, and it is not going away. We must learn to live with COVID-19 – and that means changing our behavior based on the lessons we learned during the pandemic.”

It continues, “The truth is we cannot afford to return to a pre-pandemic ‘normal.'”