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Doctors reflect on working through almost one year of COVID-19

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MADISON, Wis. (WXOW) - February 5, 2020 was the day the first positive COVID-19 case was reported in Wisconsin.

Since then, over 535,000 positive cases have been reported.

WXOW spoke to doctors from the UW Health System who shared their experience of working through a pandemic for almost a full year.

"We had no information to go on, absolutely no idea what to expect," said UW Health Medical Director of Infection Dr. Nasia Safdar. "It's not unusual for new infection to be like that. We all have to deal with very limited information in a very short period of time, but of course that heightens anxiety and concern and a lot of things to take in all at once."

UW Health Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jeff Pothof also weighed in. "We wanted to do the right thing, we wanted to be aggressive and get ahead of things, at the same time none of us had lead through a pandemic before. We didn't know what that meant, if we were making the right decisions."

Pothof said of all the struggles they've had, lack of initial virus knowledge, lack of PPE and testing, lack of hospital space, one in particular still comes as a major shock to him.

"The thing that we necessarily didn't see coming was or at least I didn't see coming was the effect that social media would have on this pandemic, where opinion would sometimes be construed as fact," said Pothof. "I think it created a fair amount of distrust within the public like what is really going on here."

Although it has been a tough year, both doctors said there are some major strides in the state. Now they said the vaccine distribution is top of mind for many, and morale is starting to climb.

"If things continue the way they have been I think that the fact the vaccine arrived and was found to be highly efficacious and there's more than one of them, meaning many more people can get it, I think that was really the first time I felt that yes there is going to be an end to this," said Safdar.

"We just don't want anyone to get complacent. I know we are all tired of this. Even us in health care we would love to have a big party. We just can't do it yet but that light is on the horizon. Every day it gets brighter and brighter," said Pothof.

The doctors said that they're anxious to see how quickly the vaccines can be distributed because of the threat of new COVID-19 variants in the U.S, and if they vaccine will remain effective for those new strands. They are hopeful that parts of 2021 could be back to some sense of normalcy.

Warren Sears

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