President Biden ends national COVID emergency - What’s next?

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 6:44 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - After three long years, President Joe Biden has declared the national COVID-19 emergency over, just weeks before it was set to expire.

Healthcare workers in Michigan battled COVID-19 on the frontlines, struggling to handle overflowing hospitals and the growing need for preventative supplies. Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Paul Entler said he and fellow Sparrow Hospital staff are taking stock of all the lessons they’ve learned over the course of the pandemic, so they can prepare for what’s ahead.

Entler said Mid-Michigan is in a much better position than it was three years ago. Even Sparrow has eased its masking guidelines in recent weeks, as cases across the state have remained minimal. But, what the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, is the potential for mass disease outbreak in the future. If a global or national pandemic were to occur again, Entler hopes for a better understanding of community need.

“We didn’t really leverage... where the density of the disease was, to move resources and shift them much quicker than we did,” he said.

While an important part of disease prevention, Entler said tackling an outbreak is about more than just equipping people with masks and hand sanitizer; it’s about catching outbreaks before they happen, and there’s a team at Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital dedicated to doing just that.

“We have a robust infection prevention program here within our health system that’s always got their eyes open with communication with our local health department and the state, so we stay on top of these different diseases,” Entler said.

For Entler, trust is key in ensuring public safety in the face of viral infection at any scale - whether that’s Sparrow’s trust in its local partners, the hospital’s trust in the public, or the public’s trust in itself.

“(COVID) became a political disease, versus an infectious disease at some points,” he said. “And it really was confusing for a lot of patients, and I think the communication, the trust, those things are things we need to continue to learn and to build on.”

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