March 16, 2023

Marking the COVID-19 pandemic’s third year

Learning from this historic health crisis will better prepare us for future challenges.

It has been 3 years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic.

This milestone offers a chance to reflect on the terrible harm the virus has caused. It’s also an opportunity to consider what we’ve learned since the pandemic started.

Rising to the challenges

3.2 million

Patients cared for (including 150,000 inpatients)

15.5 million

Vaccine doses administered (including updated or bivalent boosters)

35 million

COVID-19 tests provided to members and patients

The pandemic challenged health care in countless ways. We will be forever grateful to our caregivers —including our nurses, physicians, and everyone who delivers and supports care — for their resilience and compassion.

Their commitment to caring for our patients, communities, and each other has been awe-inspiring.

Similarly, our scientists and researchers responded to this crisis with unwavering determination. They helped test the first COVID-19 vaccine and investigate new treatments. They continue to learn and share their knowledge with the world.

Time and time again during this yearslong crisis, the Kaiser Permanente workforce rose to the challenge.

We remain engaged in every aspect of the pandemic. We’re working to advance research, prevention, testing, vaccination, treatment, and recovery care. We’re especially focused on improving the health of communities most harmed by the pandemic.

Learning and growing

Throughout the pandemic, we have innovated, adapted, and improved in many ways.

For example, we expanded our telehealth capabilities and created more flexible care settings. We also worked to make our supply chains more resilient. Our care and service teams continue to assess and refine those enhancements to address ongoing challenges.

The pandemic highlighted long-standing inequities in health care across the nation. Race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status shouldn’t matter when it comes to accessing care and staying healthy. Unfortunately, they often do.

Our integrated model, which combines care and coverage into one coordinated experience, helped to close care gaps for members and patients. Our model ensures we provide high-quality, equitable care for all. We also broadly share our strategies to help other care organizations do the same.

We continue to participate in discussions on local, state, and federal policies affecting the health of our communities. We’re working with public health agencies at all levels, demonstrating the value of public-private partnerships to better confront shared challenges.

For example, we’re currently involved in exploring ideas for improving our nation’s public health infrastructure. The aim is to ensure that our country is prepared for the next public health crisis.

Living with the virus once the pandemic ends

The federal government has announced plans to end the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11, 2023. State and local governments across the country have ended local emergency declarations or are in the process of doing so.

But the end of formal designations does not mean COVID-19 is gone. As it moves from a global pandemic to an endemic reality, the virus will remain in our communities. It’s currently causing thousands of infections and hundreds of deaths each day across the country.

Vaccination is essential to preventing serious illness and hospitalization, not just for COVID-19 but also for the flu and other diseases. Our infectious disease experts agree: The best ways to protect yourself, your family, and our communities are to get vaccinated and boosted, wash your hands often, and stay home when you’re sick.

We faced a once-in-a-century global pandemic. Tragically, more than 1.1 million people in the United States have died. And yet, strength and resilience abound.

By working together to build the best of what we’ve learned into our nation’s health care and public health infrastructure, we’ll be even stronger and better prepared for any future challenge.