Looking back on ‘a year of COVID’
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — It’s been more than a year since the pandemic started and so much is still unknown about the Coronavirus. One thing that is certain though is pandemic restrictions aren’t going anywhere until further notice.
Life changed seemingly overnight last March. Schools moved to online learning. Restaurants moved to strictly takeout. Even businesses found a way to adapt to online shopping and curbside pickup. Masks weren’t even a recommendation until April of last year. Some people hoped the pandemic would be over in a short period of time. Michael Hokanson, Public Information Officer with North Central Health District says he expected this to go on for longer.
“I was already preparing myself for our response to be part of the long haul,” says Hokanson. “And I think a lot of us here in public health was already thinking that this is probably something that’s going to be our longest response we’ve ever worked and it’s pretty much exactly that.”
Pharmaceutical companies developed a vaccine for Covid in record time. Now there’s a total of three different vaccines people can get. Hokanson says even though the vaccine is being distributed it doesn’t mean life can return back to normal.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to be back to normal but we’ll kind of return to some semblance of what life was like before Covid-19,” said Hokanson. “Of course I believe some public health practices will still be in place for some time.”
Healthcare workers and hospitals at times were pushed to their limits in the last year. Dr. Patrice Walker, Chief Medical Officer with Atrium Health Navicent says the first year of the pandemic was more reacting to things that were happening because it was the first time they had ever dealt with something like this. She says the second year will be different.
“We’ve learned enough that we can be proactive and that a lot of things that we’ve had to put in place will become automatic from now on,” said Dr. Walker.
Dr. Walker says they’ve seen fewer Covid patients since the most recent spike over the holiday season. As of Tuesday morning, she says they were down to 27 patients. Coliseum Health says they’ve seen similar trends as well. They currently have 14 Covid patients which are the lowest they’ve had since last June. Dr. Walker says this trend shows that the vaccine, combined with masks and social distancing are working.
“What we don’t want however is people to get too overconfident and think ‘oh we’ve already turned a corner, we’re past the roughest part, let’s just all go back to doing our pre-Covid things’ and we’re not there yet,” said Dr. Walker.
Hokanson says even though people are getting fully vaccinated, people still need to follow CDC guidelines. They should also remember that information could change as time goes on.
“Don’t just follow the restrictions for yourself after you’re vaccinated follow them for others because there is still a lot of unknowns when it comes to a fully vaccinated population,” says Hokanson.
Those eligible for vaccination
- Healthcare workers
- Law enforcement
- Fire personnel
- First responders
- People living and working in long-term care facilities
- People over the age of 65 and their caregivers
- Educators and staff (Pre-K, K-12, DECAL licensed or exempt childcare programs)
- Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers
- Parents of children with complex medical conditions