SAN DIEGO — After three years, the COVID-19 emergency ends this week. It will be lifted in the City of San Diego, the county, and the state of California Tuesday.
The county first instated it back in February 2020.
"It has been hard. I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. It's been hard," said Dr. Davey Smith, the Chief of Infectious Diseases at UC San Diego.
From skyrocketing hospitalizations, deaths, lockdowns, quarantining, masks, vaccines, and all the unknowns. Dr. Smith looked back at some of the defining moments of the pandemic.
"When we quarantined those patients at Miramar Air Station, that was also a gut punch. Like this is real, this is happening," he said.
He talked about the stress on our healthcare workers and dealing with the pressure.
"I learned that it is really important during a pandemic to be kind to yourself, with your colleagues. It's rough, especially when it's scary; people are dying and moving fast. Just be kind," he said.
"I appreciate how San Diegans stepped up to come together to protect lives. I think San Diegans did as good as they could to deal with this," said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher with the San Diego Board County Board of Supervisors.
The state of emergency allowed local leaders to make decisions around the pandemic more quickly and get state and federal funding. The vaccine mandate for city employees will also end this week. Although the emergency is over, experts say the virus is sticking around and warn new variants will emerge.
"I worry that we will forget. This was not unexpected," Dr. Smith said.
He also worries we won't be prepared for future pandemics.
"Politics has inserted itself so much into COVID that we have not developed the preparedness over time. I worry governments will never be able to because of the politics," he said.
Taking preventative measures is key. Local leaders and doctors want people to approach COVID like the flu and stay updated on their vaccines.
The County’s COVID-19 web pages will continue to be updated weekly, and people can subscribe to the County’s Respiratory Virus Surveillance report to get continued weekly COVID-19 data reporting.
WATCH RELATED: COVID-19 Emergency ends Tuesday in San Diego (Feb 26, 2023)