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Charlotte doctor explains where we are in the COVID-19 pandemic

"We're going to continue to see cases because COVID-19 is now going to be an endemic in our populations much like the flu is."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The delta variant has caused a destructive wave of COVID-19.

One-fifth of all COVID-19 deaths in North Carolina happened in the last two months. But experts believe we are on the downswing of that surge.

"We're going to continue to see cases because COVID-19 is now going to be an endemic in our populations much like the flu is," Dr. David Priest with Novant Health said.

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While cases, hospitalizations, and the percent positivity rate continue to come down in Mecklenburg County, it's not time to relax just yet and people who are unvaccinated are still the most vulnerable.

"I do know that the more of us that are protected and vaccinated the more likely we are to have the worst behind us," Priest said. "So I'm very hopeful for that and I'm generally an optimistic person but as we've learned throughout the pandemic, lots of twists and turns."

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When there are fewer people with antibodies, whether that's from the shots or from a COVID-19 infection, there's more opportunity for the virus to mutate and develop another variant, which could cause another dangerous spike in metrics.

"Unfortunately it's very unpredictable," Priest explained. "I think the good news is that vaccination and the memory cells it creates continues to protect people very well from hospitalization and death, even if over time they're a little more likely to have asymptomatic or mild cases." 

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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