(First of two stories)
By Sept. 3, 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic had produced a staggering 220 million cases worldwide and claimed some 4.5 million lives. Just in Shelby County, there have been more than 127,500 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, and nearly 1,900 deaths. So in an effort to bring more clarity and delineation to bear, The Daily Memphian conducted extensive interviews on the pandemic’s past, present and future with two of Tennessee’s foremost physicians. One is Dr. Jon McCullers, who is on the Shelby County Board of Health and chief operating officer for the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He has been a frequent voice in these pages since the first case here.
DM: At this point in the pandemic, how would you characterize COVID-19 as an infectious disease — from a historical context?
McCullers: We’re in our fourth wave nationally. I think we’re coming out of that fourth wave and because of the emergence of the Delta variant, and perhaps others, we’re going to see waves, and I’m expecting another in the winter that may be as bad or worse than this one. So, we’re certainly not done with it and history tells us that’s kind of the pattern you see. And I expect it’s going to become an endemic disease after the big waves are over and we’ll continue to see big winter surges for some years to come.