SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – As the Ozarks watches and waits for COVID-19 cases to level off, new data shows the worst of the Omicron surge may already be behind many cities in the northeast. 

It has health leaders across the country speculating Omicron cases could decline just as quickly as the variant appeared and spread across the world. 

Experts say if you can protect yourself for the next few weeks, the omicron wave could pass fairly quickly. 

“I think the reality is most people are going to get COVID in their lifetime, I don’t think most people need to get COVID within the next month,” says Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. 

However, a combination of a lack of rapid at-home tests, long lines for PCR tests, and now lengthy delays in getting results has made being overly cautious more difficult. 

“What the delay and testing is doing is it’s perpetuating the search, because it doesn’t

allow us to get a good handle on the virus and who’s contagious with it,” says Dr. John Swartzberg with UC Berkeley School of Public Health. 

As of Monday, two of every five COVID-19 tests at CoxHealth are coming back positive. 

With an average of roughly 400 new tests a day in Greene County, public officials say it’s best to do whatever you can to let a strained health system can catch up. 

When it goes, doctors speculate the pandemic could shift to an endemic, similar to what we see with the flu each year. 

“What Omicron did, is it caused an incredible wall of immunity. It means unvaccinated people got it

people who were vaccinated even got it,” Dr. Monica Gandhi, a UCSF Infectious Diseases Specialist. 

In an endemic, there would be no reporting of daily infections, and no asymptomatic testing, but vaccinations and medications would continue. 

“We also don’t tell people to mask and distance anymore, because that really has to do with trying to keep it at bay, but when you go into an endemic phase you treat it like influenza.”