How The Pandemic Changed Our Lives - 3/21/21 - Segment 2

How The Pandemic Changed Our Lives - 3/21/21 - Segment 2

Video Transcript

BROOKE KATZ: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Katz. When the COVID pandemic took hold in North Texas, there was so much unknown. I reflect with one of the first epidemiologists that we talked to at the start of all of this a year ago. It's a look back and a look ahead. It was more than a year ago when we first sat down with Dr. Diana Cervantes with UNT Health Science Center to talk about an emerging new coronavirus.

DIANA CERVANTES: The concern is really for people who may have traveled to Wuhan and then 14-- within 14 days past that travel they develop signs and symptoms. I would be concerned for those people or people who may have been in contact with somebody who had traveled and had symptoms and then they developed symptoms. But in general, I think because they are doing so much at-- public health to prevent other people from getting sick that the concern is very minimal.

I would have never thought that we would be in this position where we would be at home and that we would have the lockdown that we had.

BROOKE KATZ: It's been a year of change, worry, frustration, and heartache, but also, Dr. Cervantes says, a year of breakthroughs. How is it transferred and how contagious is it?

DIANA CERVANTES: That's something that really we don't know at this point. So they feel originally it may have gone from animals to human. And now it seems that there are some human-to-human cases, but it may be limited to people who have had very close contact, so maybe health care providers, people in the family. The worry is that is it going to be sustained transmission from person to person, so that's really what they're trying to figure out right now.

We really learned a lot about the virus, how it's transmitted, who's at highest risk, how to protect people at their worksite, how to protect people in their own homes. And then, of course, so much that we learned in regards to treatments, things that we thought would work that didn't work, things that we weren't sure would work actually worked really well.

BROOKE KATZ: What in terms of the virus do we still have yet to learn?

DIANA CERVANTES: So I think one of the major things we still are in the process of learning is the long-term impacts. And we have seen many studies that have come out in terms of the long-term impacts. But again, we're just a year into this and the majority of people that really got infected really going into six months into this. So we still don't know. There's still a big question mark in terms of what does this really mean for a large group of people, the long-term impacts of having this infection?

BROOKE KATZ: What do you think are some of the most important lessons that we can glean from this experience?

DIANA CERVANTES: We came a long way in terms of vaccine development and approval and really the processes that involve the vaccine in going from do you think that we could even put a vaccine together to actually a year later having shots in people's arms. It's really been incredible to see that progress.

BROOKE KATZ: Dr. Cervantes says the virus has highlighted the need to find ways to address health disparities and help those at higher risk. But as our knowledge continues to evolve, she cautions there's still an element of the unknown.

DIANA CERVANTES: We do know that the virus does change because all viruses change. So we need to think and be open to the possibility that we may have to change course at some time, but that we do have the tools and the resources to get us to a better place.

BROOKE KATZ: Dr. Cervantes expects over the next few months we, unfortunately, will see occasional spikes. But she says over time we'll likely see those get smaller and smaller. Health care workers scrambled to battle a virus and pandemic that we didn't know much about. Through the eyes of a local nurse, we salute our health care and front line workers. Here's Madison Sawyer.

KATHY DOHERTY: And at times it felt like we were in the middle of a war.

MADISON SAWYER: Kathy Doherty, the senior director of nursing at Parkland, says the magnitude of the pandemic hit her during the first surge of COVID in North Texas last summer.

KATHY DOHERTY: That, to me, was the first time of, woo, how is this going to change us? And how-- how long is this going to be our normal?

MADISON SAWYER: The new normal was a stressed health care system--

KATHY DOHERTY: I've been involved in several disasters, and they're always very finite, you know, you know you're going to get through them in the next 24, 48 hours. But this one--

MADISON SAWYER: --and hospital workers changing the way they handle their daily jobs of treating patients.

KATHY DOHERTY: Our staff that saw the death more, the fact that they would come back every day and that they would be there to support the next family and that every one of those family members, those patients that they took care of, they treated like it was their own family, and that, to me, is-- is phenomenal.

MADISON SAWYER: And then there's the mental stress, especially early on in the pandemic when health care workers and first responders didn't know how the virus would move from person to person.

KATHY DOHERTY: We had staff that were living in their garage that got converted into an apartment or living in a RV because they-- not seeing their family or touching their children for months on end because there was that fear.

MADISON SAWYER: Chaplain programs meant to be a support for patients and their families started caring for hospital staff. At JPS in Fort Worth, a birch tree turned into a place that held over 1,000 handwritten messages of hope from workers for workers. Doherty doesn't think of herself as a hero, but she believes the pandemic is shining a new light on those front line workers.

KATHY DOHERTY: Definitely changed the way I think I looked at health care and access to health care. And I think it also changed the way society viewed health care and the importance of it.

MADISON SAWYER: A chance to say thank you and show support for the sacrifices thousands of workers have made so far during the pandemic. Madison Sawyer, CBS 11 News.

BROOKE KATZ: From the hospitals to the classrooms, why some teachers are filled with hope a year into the pandemic. Plus COVID-19 took its toll on businesses and the economy as well, small business owners-- one small business owner who has survived the odds so far to keep the doors open. That's next.