• COVID-19

    Mayo doctor reflects on 2 years of COVID-19

Jan. 21 is the two-year anniversary of the first travel-related COVID-19 case reported in the U.S. In that time, medical experts at Mayo Clinic say treatment and prevention of the disease have evolved and improved.

"We're in a very different position than we were two years ago. We have lots of capabilities and tools at our disposal to manage through this, primarily vaccines and boosters, of course. And we have to continue to encourage everybody within our communities to seek vaccination and to seek boosters because we know this is safe, we know this is effective. It's clearly the best way of preventing serious illness, hospitalization, ICU admissions and decompressing our hospitals," says Dr. Conor Loftus, chair of Mayo Clinic's outpatient practice.

Watch: Dr. Conor Loftus reflects on two years of COVID-19.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites are in the downloads at the end of this post. Please courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network. Name super/CG: Conor Loftus, M.D./Chair, Outpatient Practice/Mayo Clinic.

The recent surge of the omicron variant has pushed hospitals in the U.S., including Mayo Clinic, near their limits and has strained staff and resources.

"The hospital overall is very busy. The majority of patients that are hospitalized with serious illness related to COVID, unfortunately, are unvaccinated," says Dr. Loftus. "So, coming back to safety and the tools we have at hand — vaccination and boosters are key. And, of course, the basic measures of masking, avoiding crowds where feasible, social distancing, washing hands, the basic things we've learned from the start are very important to emphasize again."

"Having staff to look after the patients, given staff absences, has been a major factor here. With that said, the flexibility, dedication and resilience of the staff in just being flexible, has allowed us to continue to provide the care to the patients that need our care. The care has not been compromised in any way, shape or form — inpatient or outpatient. We're able to care for the patients that need us, despite being extremely busy in the hospital and in the outpatient setting."

The nation isn't out of the COVID-19 pandemic yet, but Dr. Loftus sees light at the end of the tunnel.

"As we all do our best to enhance safety in our community ― and for patients, our employees, our families and everybody ― continuing to promote vaccination, continuing to promote booster administration and continuing with the simple measures is very important. And that's what will help see us through this pandemic and out the other side," he says.

For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was either recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in a nonpatient care area where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

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Jan. 20, 2022 - Mayo Clinic COVID-19 trending map using red color tones for hot spots