Reflections on life and resolutions are part of the landscape of this season, as we strive to spend time with our families and loved ones. We all hope to have some boisterous and also some quiet time, enjoying the fun, glitter, ad memories of the holidays present and past before launching headfirst into the New Year. We note all our blessings and triumphs over the past year and begin to plan for the future.
As the Interim Director of Schuyler County Public Health, my experience daily includes not only concerns about public health and safety, but also great thankfulness for the incredible efforts that have been made by the entire staff of Public Health and the County Administrators and legislators on behalf of all of the community of Schuyler County. It is a great pleasure to be associated with this hearty crew and a wonder to be a part of all that they have accomplished in this past year. They have faced wave after wave of viral attacks in the county, along with wave after wave of new regulations and guidance. And they continue to do so, often with sacrifice of their own personal time. Helping at every step of the way is the Schuyler County Medical Reserve Corps, a group of over 80 Schuyler County community members who help man the clinics and allow them to happen. This group has donated over 2000 hours to the County in service for efforts against COVID. Of all these kind efforts, I am very grateful.
My thoughts also go to the newly lost to our County from the effect of COVID. Schuyler County did not lose 21 residents, it lost 21 community members – mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, daughters, and sons. Each loss is a signal of pain, worry, and struggle. The losses remind us of human frailty and the vulnerabilities that we all have.
We can, however, protect ourselves to a great degree to minimize the opportunity for the COVID virus and its variants. None of the protections are perfect, but each proven strategy adds an extra layer of protection. There is living proof right here in our county! The layers include getting vaccinated, properly wearing a mask, distancing whenever possible, washing hands, and staying home when sick. We can also add doing a rapid test for COVID before attending any indoor gathering or event to the list now. We can see that using these strategies almost eliminated influenza illness last year and greatly reduced both the numbers of COVID infection but also the severity of the infections that occurred. As we are seeing soaring increases in infections, isolations, and quarantines, the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths have not soared.
Please remember to be good to yourself and all the loved ones around you. We all know how to do these things and to help each other. What next turn COVID will take is unknown, so I encourage you all to protect yourself in preparation for the next wave. Public Health will be here to help, but your efforts are important to the control of this illness. Thank you for your help and stay well!
Nancy King, MD
Interim Public Health Director