2 years later: COVID-19 prepares doctors for state of emergency for health crisis

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - According to officials, declaring the state of emergency for a health crisis in 2020 was a very rare occasion.

Now over these two years, doctors at Memorial Health tell me there were about 850 COVID-19 deaths in Chatham County.

“We thought it was going to be over in a couple of months.”

As the pandemic continues, the Director of the Chatham County Emergency Management Agency Dennis Jones says now they’re more prepared for a health crisis.

“I’m pretty confident in the capabilities of our community, of our citizens and also our emergency responders to handle such an issue,” Jones said.

Memorial Health’s Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Thacker recalls when that state of emergency was declared.

“This pandemic was something that kind of came up all of a sudden. We had some time to plan in the state of Georgia, but it was going to be a long, like a never ending hurricane,” Thacker said.

The two years having several frustrating moments that felt like déjà vu.

“It was like a groundhog day, We’re going through the same cycle of our communities being put in risk, health care environments being stressed and I think it weighs on the souls of many healthcare providers that this was in many cases preventable.”

Two years later, doctor Thacker says there’s only one COVID-19 patient on these floors.

Through the last two years we’ve learned not only how to treat the illness but also how to prevent it. We’re not in the clear yet as variants are still emerging -- Dr. Thacker says Pfizer and Moderna is expected to ask the FDA to approve a fourth booster shot during the first week of April.

Apart of that discussion is going to be is this the time to pivot to a strategy around annual vaccinations similar to the flu.

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