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Two years after COVID's first wave, Mendoza reflects on what we've learned and what comes next

Monroe County Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Michael Mendoza at Friday's news conference.
Monroe County/Zoom
Monroe County Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Michael Mendoza at Friday's news conference.

Two years ago this week, in March 2020, the first known local cases of COVID-19 were confirmed.

Schools, workplaces, and government offices soon started shutting down. Life as we knew it was about to change in ways we probably couldn't even imagine at that time.

It's been a long two years, and Derek Thompson wrote in The Atlantic recently that more and more people who are fully vaccinated are ready to move on.

They feel they've taken the necessary precautions and don't want concerns about COVID controlling their lives anymore.

Monroe County public health commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said this is a reasonable position for someone to take right now

"We’ve been through so much,” he said. “We cannot let COVID rule our lives as it had for so many months. I join that chorus who says let's move beyond COVID as soon as we can."

Case numbers are at their lowest levels since last summer and mask mandates have been lifted. At the same time, Mendoza stressed that things can still change. Another variant, possibly one that outfoxes the current vaccines, could emerge.

“We’re not in that different a position now than we were a year ago or two years ago in that there’s a lot that we don’t know,” Mendoza said. “But we still have to move forward with what we do know.”

Mendoza said he has been talking to local medical systems about establishing a registry of people who might have long-haul COVID-19.

He said it's one way learn about the persistent symptoms plaguing some people long after an initial COVID-19 infection.

"The CDC is looking into this as well,” Mendoza said, “and a number of other medical centers across the country are looking into this now as well and we're trying to figure out what our role in that could be going forward."

Mendoza said there is no way to know how many Monroe County residents are suffering from the syndrome at this point.

Some studies have suggested that as many as one-third of COVID-19 patients become long-haulers, including those who were not seriously ill with the disease.

Click on the audio link above to hear an interview with Mendoza.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.