Medical experts discuss year of battling COVID-19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Over 33,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Florida, and there have been over 2 million cases reported in the state.

On Tuesday, the National Association of Health Services Executives in Florida came together to reflect on the last year of battling the virus. Health experts from the Jacksonville area talked about the medical challenges.

“From a physician standpoint, one of the big challenges is the nature of this virus,” said Dr. Leon Haley with UF Health Jacksonville. “This started off as something that we thought was a respiratory illness, then a cardiac illness, and now it’s a neurological illness. Now it’s a little bit of everything. Now it causes blood clots, and now it’s created a series of patients -- long haulers.”

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Haley said that digital and telehealth programs have come to the forefront, a renewed reason for academics, and he’s been updating his staff weekly to keep them prepared in the fight against COVID-19 -- a fight that everyone has suffered from but especially the minority community.

“The role of the Black church has to be very sensitive to mental health challenges, as well as health challenges across the spectrum,” said Rev. Dr. R.B. Holmes Jr., with the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee.

Holmes is part of a statewide task force to educate people and get more minorities vaccinated. It’s a task force that has local ties with vaccinations at Edward Waters College and a door-to-door awareness campaign.

Christina Zorn, with the Mayo Clinic, said the health care industry is now better at protecting the public.

“I think the health care industry is stronger now than we were pre-COVID,” she said.

Though the pandemic is far from over, health experts are beginning to see a shift as more people are getting vaccinated and taking precautions to protect themselves.


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