Doctors weigh in on what our future looks like after COVID-19

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We have been dealing with COVID-19 for an entire year in Shelby County.

The question everyone has, what does our future like?

Have questions about the spread of coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.

For many, the light at the end of the tunnel lies in the vaccine.

The key is the vaccine mixed with staying vigilant in our practices, wearing masks and social distancing.

What could put a big wrench in the outcome is something we’ve already seen, states opening way too soon.

“We have the collective fix in our hands,” said Dr. Steven Threlkeld, Infectious Disease Specialist at Baptist Memorial Hospital.

What does the rest of 2021 and even 2022 look like with covid-19?

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That’s a vision that’s still a little murky.

“It is a fundamental mistake to think we are out of the woods,” said Dr. Richard Walker, Chief of Emergency Medicine at UTHSC.

Even with three vaccines out, Dr. Walker said states, like Texas and Mississippi, choosing to fully reopen, can reverse all the work everyone has put in.

“Things look great, they look better, the future looks bright, we have the vaccine, the numbers are trending down,” Dr. Walker said. “You can absolutely mess that up if you return to normal life right now.”

In the year that has seen healthcare workers stretched to the limit, Dr. Walker stresses to remain vigilant.

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“That vigilance is a small price to pay for getting out of this,” he said.

Dr. Threlkeld has a different outlook on the future.

“What it has to look like is an increasingly effective, efficient mechanism for getting the vaccine out,” he said.

Dr. Threlkeld said the vaccine rollout across the country has not been great.

The plan moving forward, Threlkeld said, needs to be a simple one.

One where our elders can fully understand how to schedule an appointment.

RELATED: Local experts advise against letting guard down as more receive COVID-19 vaccines

“That’s a real anxiety situation for both in our elderly population,” he said. “Who else is everybody? The people who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, who are convinced they’re going to be one of the last people to get the vaccine because they’re the last to get a lot of things.”

Just as important, Dr. Threlkeld said we shouldn’t dwell on the misfortunes of others, like the current investigation into the Shelby County Health Department.

“We’ll know we’re doing an adequate job when our hands and shelves are empty and we’re looking to the state saying we’re all out, give us more,” he said.

Have questions about the coronavirus vaccine? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the vaccine information and distribution. CLICK HERE FOR MORE.

We still have a long way to go before we can ever consider life as we knew it before covid.

The focus is the vaccine and they do provide a lot of hope and optimism for what lies ahead.