COVID-19 public health emergency officially comes to an end
After three years, Thursday marks the official end of the public health emergency put in place by the government because of the COVID-19 virus.
Most tools like tests, vaccines and treatments will be accessible, but some may lose protections they've had.
Even though the emergency is officially over, those who've been in the trenches the last three years say the ending of the pandemic in no way signals the end of COVID.
"I think we're going to have to realize it's endemic now, and we may have to get an annual COVID shot, similar to a flu shot," said Stephen Love, the President and CEO of the DFW Hospital Council.
The novel coronavirus is confirmed to have infected 8.5 million Texans since the start of the pandemic through last March of this year.
95,000 Texans were killed.
"We've got approximately a 150 in our hospitals today with COVID-19 and some of them are very sick now it was 4,250 at the height of the pandemic, so we're definitely improved, and we're thankful," said Love.
That puts the virus in perspective, but it's changed our perspective on healthcare.
The pandemic brought telemedicine into focus as a new technology merged with medical treatment.
Hospital systems were strained, but the pandemic shined a light on public healthcare.
"I think the lesson learned is we really need to strengthen our public health system in this country and I think we all need to take public health very seriously. It should not be political," said Love.
Vaccines and treatments will be available at no cost for at least this year and part of next, then private insurers may require a co-pay.
People with Medicare and Medicaid should get vaccines and treatments at no cost.
"There were many things that happened during COVID from the safety net standpoint, like more people on the Medicaid rolls, like rental assistance and, you know, those things will be going away," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
Estimates are that 1.3 million in Texas will lose Medicaid coverage.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins say that means more lifting at the local level.
"The government and other providers, foundations and churches and what not, making sure people don't fall away from being able to take care of themselves," he said.
Texans living with an unwelcome visitor that's here to stay.
"Oh we definitely are going to have to learn to live with it," said Love.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed us in some ways for the better, but it is a change that will continue to evolve as the virus does the same.