Local officials reflect on changes in Covid guidelines

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 6:06 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - As the Centers for Disease Control ease Covid-19 restrictions, local leaders are reflecting on the beginning of the pandemic, the rules and the last two-and-a-half years.

In March 2020, Joe Lightfoot was the St. Lawrence County Legislature chair.

“There was a lot of frustration in that we didn’t think that some of these things were very well thought out,” he said, referring to what he calls the one-size-fits-all Covid-19 guidelines.

On March 15, 2020, states, including New York, began to shut down schools and businesses. Some businesses, as Lightfoot points out, never fully reopened if at all.

On March 28, 2020, social distancing measures were extended. And on April 3, 2020, the CDC announced new mask-wearing guidelines and recommended everyone wear a mask while they aren’t home.

Forward to August 2022. In a complete 180, the CDC no longer recommends the six-feet-apart rule. It says contact tracing is limited to places like hospitals and nursing homes. And it doesn’t advise quarantining people who have been exposed to COVID-19 but aren’t infected.

Scott Gray was the head of Jefferson County’s Covid response for the bulk of the pandemic, serving as the legislature chair. He says looking back, shutting down completely and then reopening again were the hardest parts.

“Having to close businesses, that was a gut-wrenching moment. Just to watch businesses and travel through the city with all the businesses closed,” he said.

While it’s uplifting to think of “normal again,” both county officials say it’s important to remember those lost - people and businesses - as a result of the pandemic.

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