Experts, locals discuss potential long-term future with COVID-19

Coronavirus

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As COVID cases climb and vaccine rates level off in Clark County, some fear the virus may never go away.

But what exactly does a “future with COVID” look like? Will it be the seasonal flu — or something more dangerous?

Dr. Marc J. Kahn, dean of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, says the most concerning thing right now is vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. He adds that if not enough people get vaccinated, COVID-19 will continue to transform and get stronger.

Dr. Marc J. Kahn

Some say they are preparing for that potential reality.

“The degree of hesitation we’re seeing with this fatal disease is, quite frankly, surprising,” Kahn said.

As COVID vaccination rates lag in Nevada and the Delta variant takes hold, it is clear we are not out of the woods yet. Kahn says our current situation is unprecedented.

“In the past, with other vaccines like smallpox and polio, we didn’t have this type of misinformation that we’re seeing now,” Kahn told 8 News Now.

A healthcare worker holds a COVID-19 vaccine vial. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

If things do not change, Kahn says COVID will be around for a while and that booster shots are likely. But it is still unclear if the virus will become like the flu — or something worse.

“I do worry that if we don’t get people vaccinated, we’re going to continue to have mutations that are going to be more transmissible,” Kahn said.

Sr. Pastor Kelcey West with Nehemiah Ministries Christian Church says he is prepared for life with COVID. For the foreseeable future, he still plans to cap his congregation at 100 people, enforce social distancing and mandate masks.

Sr. Pastor Kelcey West

“Now that we’re seeing that the numbers are starting to rise, we’re going to continue those safety precautions,” West shared. “We haven’t had a reason to really think that COVID is going to totally disappear.”

Others do not believe the virus will be a long-term problem.

“I think realistically, unless it starts to impact our youth, children 12 and under, I don’t think we need to panic,” said Patrick Casale, owner of The Multicare Group, a local insurance company.

Patrick Casale

While the future is uncertain, medical experts agree on the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Only through vaccination are we going to get to the other side of this pandemic,” Kahn said.

To combat vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, Kahn says it is crucial to rely on information from reputable sources, such as the Southern Nevada Health District and local hospitals. He adds you should not believe everything you see on social media.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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