Local doctors weigh in on moving away from Covid pandemic

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 5:49 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A statement released by the World Health Organization on Monday suggests we may soon be putting the pandemic in the past.

Two doctors from Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties back that up.

“I think that locally we still have people in the hospital with Covid. Not as many and those who are in are not as ill,” said Dr. Joseph Wetterhahn, Samaritan Health.

The WHO says we’re in a “transitional phase” moving away from the pandemic.

Dr. Wetterhahn says we can thank three main advancements for that.

“We have testing, we have vaccine, and we have treatment. In 2020 we didn’t have testing, we didn’t have effective vaccine, and we had nothing to treat,” he said.

Although things are better than they were, the WHO acknowledges Covid is still a threat to some people. So, doctors say it’s best to stay open-minded about the precautions people take.

“The decision to wear or not wear (masks) at this point depends on how much risk you have and how much risk you’re willing to accept and who else you might be protecting somewhere else. I think we all need to look out for each other that way,” said Dr. Wetterhahn.

The Biden Administration is expected to end the country’s ongoing public health emergency come May.

Dr. Andrew Williams with the St. Lawrence County Board of Health tells us that’ll open the door for combating other issues.

“I think this is an excellent time for us to refocus our public health energies on things like substance use, the mental health crisis and things like fighting cardiovascular disease and other more significant public health issues,” he said.

Both doctors and the WHO agree we’re in a transitional period but we should make that transition cautiously.