Stanford doctor says we 'cannot go back' to pre-pandemic life

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Focus is on the future of California and the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Gavin Newsom is preparing to announce the beginning of a new chapter in California's fight against COVID-19.

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In the beginning, back in March 2020, Gov. Newsom was the first in the nation to impose a statewide stay-at-home order. In the nearly two years to follow, California set rules and requirements that are only now beginning to ease.

"While structurally we may be relaxing, I think our tolerance for risk has changed," Dr. Marcelle Dougan, Assistant Professor of Public Health at San Jose State University said.

"We're not as scared of the disease as we used to be. But, we should still be cautious," Dr. Dougan said.

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On Thursday, the governor is expected to announce what he calls the "next phase" of California's COVID-19 response.

His office released a nearly 4-minute video, with a glimpse into the last two years.

However, looking forward, his office said in-part: "The wide-ranging plan will be the first of its kind to ensure the state, communities and individuals have the tools they need to protect themselves and prepare for what is to come."

It's an outlook that is said to focus on keeping schools and businesses open and safe.

"I think it's always a good time to plan for what may be coming down the road in the next few weeks. I think that is fair," Dr. Jorge Salinas, Hospital Epidemiologist at Stanford University told ABC7 News.

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He and other experts explained the future will be far from what life was like pre-pandemic.

"I'm not sure that we can get there ever," Dr. Salinas added.

Dr. Dougan continued, "I think we cannot go back to the way we used to live."

Santa Clara University professor Dr. Thomas Plante weighed in, "We have to think about this, sort of like 9/11. After 9/11, we don't travel the same way anymore. And in some respects, we have to maybe use that comparison for how we're going to be after this, this critical phase of the pandemic."

Last week in Oakland, Governor Newsom said the state will embrace an endemic response.

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"In that endemic plan, we will be able to answer a lot of questions you have about what world are we living in, where are we going with this virus," the governor told reporters.

"This is going to take a little bit of time and effort," Dr. Plante said. "And there's going to be a transition of going back to social activities and so forth that we used to do, and people are going to be rusty."

Health experts advise an endemic phase will demand balance. All agreeing that while people shouldn't live in fear, people shouldn't neglect the serious illness that has killed nearly one-million Americans.

Governor Newsom will unveil his plan on Thursday afternoon.

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