Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann says that Guilford County and its residents are now entering a new phase in the war against COVID-19.

Vann told the Board of Commissioners recently that, even though COVID-19 remains a threat, the county is moving on to a new mindset for assessing and battling the virus that has caused authorities to shut down much of the world for the past two years.

“We are moving into COVID-19 2.0,” Vann said at the Thursday, Feb. 17 meeting of the commissioners.

Version 2.0 of the county’s COVID-19 response still doesn’t resemble a return to “normalcy.” However, it does involve a more nimble and targeted approach to addressing COVID-19 outbreaks compared to what people have seen in the past – such as widespread mask mandates, wholesale lockdowns and the cancelation of large events.

Vann said that, while the virus remains prevalent, the population of Guilford County has obtained higher immunity due to vaccinations and past infections, and she added that local medical providers have new treatments that work.

“We have more tools and we also have learned a lot,” Vann said.

She cautioned that people can’t completely let their guard down.

“The virus is not disappearing,” Vann said.

At the same Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting last week when Vann spoke, the commissioners voted unanimously to immediately remove Guilford County’s mask mandate – and that was, in part, due to Vann’s assessment that progress was being made in the county’s battle against COVID-19.

In the new COVID-19 2.0 stage, people have many more tools and resources at their disposal than before – home tests kits, for instance, are a big one.

Vann told the Board of Commissioners at the Thursday, Feb. 17 meeting that  the 14-day average test positivity rate in the county– one of the key stats county health officials watch – was at 12.5 percent, a decrease from 18.5 percent two weeks earlier.

Since that Feb.17 meeting, those positivity rates have fallen even more.

Vann said other evidence is also confirming the downtrend in infections.  For instance, state health officials have found a way to detect the extent of coronavirus in a community by testing wastewater and Vann said that indicator is showing a downward trend in the presence of the virus in Guilford County.