Kentucky will continue to see coronavirus surges from time to time, and because Covid-19 still has the potential to overwhelm the health-care system, it’s too early to start treating it as just another infection to live with, state Health Commissioner Steven Stack told Kentucky Health News in an interview.
“Covid is here to stay,” Stack said. “I think the sooner people acknowledge that, the better off we’ll be, but it’s still premature to just try to mainstream it as if it were like any other condition, because it still has the very real potential to swamp hospitals.” That is “a threat not only to people who become infected with Covid, but also to every other person in society” who needs a hospital.
“It’s not yet time to say that it is just a regular part of our daily lives because it isn’t,” he added. “It will cause problems that the common cold and influenza don’t typically cause, but we have to accept the fact that our behaviors will matter and the choices we make will determine how quickly we can normalize this and not have it be so exceptional.”
One of those behaviors is getting a Covid-19 vaccine, but a substantial number of people say in polls that they will never get one, no matter what.
Stack said that ultimately, society will need to “normalize the expectation” that getting the Covid-19 vaccine is “something all of us have to do,” just like we have to follow the rules of the road when we drive an automobile.
“The adverse consequences of the pandemic are being extended because there are still too many people vulnerable to its worst impact,” and those aren’t just the unvaccinated, he said. “When those consequences compromise the safety and well being of whole communities and larger populations, it is still a very much a societal need to work on this.”
Right now, Stack said, the messaging to get hold-outs vaccinated must come from people that they personally trust and respect, like local leaders.