How soon until we go back to normal? Here are the 5 stages of COVID-19 pandemic

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KTRK) -- From the masks on our faces to the social distancing everywhere we go, to the online schooling for children and the testing sites that dot our communities, there are constant reminders we are in the midst of a pandemic unlike anything in more than a hundred years.

But we are a long way from being through the disruption in our lives.

Dr. Gerald Parker is the Director of the Pandemic and BioSecurity Policy Program at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. He told ABC13 there are five stages to this pandemic.

"People like myself have been thinking about these problems for quite some time," Parker said during an interview via FaceTime Tuesday morning. "We've written about it and even written some papers that we're not prepared for the next pandemic."

Stage 1: Containment

We're past that stage, according to Parker. It started when the government stopped allowing flights from certain countries and declared a national health emergency.

Then, we entered the next stage.

Stage 2: Mitigation

This is where are now.

"Our primary focus on phase two is to, again, slow the transmission of the virus in our communities through community-based population wide interventions," said Parker. "We need to get to the next phase, and we need to figure out a way to resume whatever our new normalcy is going to be."

Stage 3: More containment pre-vaccine

"We don't believe we're going to contain this," explained Parker. "So, we need to anticipate the second wave in the fall, maybe another third wave next spring, and then we may be living with the COVID-19 similar to what we do with seasonal influenza."

Stage 4: Vaccines

This phase could be anywhere from 12 to 24 months away.

READ ALSO: How do you make a COVID-19 vaccine? An expert explains using M&M's

Stage 5: Pandemic preparedness

It's the effort to prevent what we're seeing now from happening again by making it a national security priority.

"We need renewed vigor in the future for pandemic preparedness so this does not happen again," said Parker. "But that's going to take political will. It will take resources and political will."

Parker said it will take an international effort to stop another pandemic and it can't just be one country taking the next steps. The world, he said, will have to work together.

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