ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – It is 731 days since Georgia was shaken by positive COVID-19 cases.
On Wednesday, the Center for Disease Control reported total COVID-19 deaths across the country at 947,882. While the virus continues to take life, much has changed in the fight to stop it.
CBS46 sat down with the CDC’s acting principal deputy to talk about the experiences and accidents since the pandemic began two years ago.
“We started hearing reports and I saw many of my co-workers and colleagues being drawn into this,” said Dr. Deb Houry, CDC Acting Principal Deputy.
Inside the Atlanta headquarters, there is now a COVID-19 task force as well as an emergency operations center. It quickly became an all-hand-on-deck situation as they quickly hired more employees.
“We have disease detectives here. Literally disease detectives, ”Houry explained.
Changes in messages
The CDC was accused by some of having flip-flopping during the crisis, changing their tune about mask wearing, asymptomatic spread and the quarantine period, which ranged from 14 to 10 to 5 days. CBS46 News asked if the CDC felt it was causing skepticism among the public.
“Sure. There’s always hindsight, but I think we did the best with the data that was at hand,” Houry said.
At first, it seemed that coronavirus would be relentless with anyone catching the virus. But looking at the data, the CDC director said 75 percent of the COVID-19 deaths were among people with at least four other medical conditions that were “unwell to begin with.”
“I think early on we did not have things like vaccinations. So it certainly affected all age groups, and certainly people who have different medical conditions may be at risk for serious illness,” Houry said. “When we have lost almost 900,000 who have died from it, it is certainly not an exaggeration. It has been a tragedy. “
CBS46 asked the clinical director of the COVID-19 task force at Piedmont Healthcare if she thinks the CDC evoked more fear than necessary.
“I never thought it was exaggerated, in fact I think many times it was undersold,” said Dr. Jayne Morgan.
She says the government’s ongoing change of messages may have prevented some from buying into the home’s order and other security measures.
“The message was correct for that increase, but society did not follow it. So that message will be different for the next increase because the variant will be different,” Dr. Morgan said.
A virus in change
COVID-19 was first found in Georgia in March 2020. In January 2021, the Alpha variant was identified, followed by Beta a month later, as well as Gamma, Delta and Omicron the same year, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The CDC says it has made progress in the last two years in learning and adapting to the changing virus.
“We’ve had huge improvements in our data reporting and our laboratory structure. And I think the pandemic has shown a light on what can be done to improve background health,” Houry said. “Two years ago there was so much discovery. , which we were still working on. “
The CDC says the best they can be is cautiously optimistic. They still monitor variants, look at the data and adjust the manual accordingly.
“We report the data, we provide guidance, and we really want people to make decisions that are right for them and right for those around them,” Houry said.