San Diego Health Officer Looks Back On The First Year Of COVID-19, Wishes Community Took It More Seriously – NBC 7 San Diego


Wilma J. Wooten, M.D. couldn’t have predicted the place the job would take her when she was employed to be San Diego County’s Public Well being Officer on February 2, 2007. 

The H1N1 virus, Hepatitis A, and in 2020, the novel coronavirus would ravage elements of the town she loves, and she or he could be referred to as on to guide. 

Wooten sat down with NBC 7 Anchor Catherine Garcia to look again on the primary 12 months of COVID-19 and the county’s response, step-by-step.

All of it started in late-December 2019 and early January 2020 when her workplace started listening to studies from the World Well being Group of a novel virus found in Wuhan, China. 

“Having the expertise of the H1N1 pandemic, I used to be attuned to the truth that this was changing into or might have the potential to develop into a worldwide challenge,” Wooten stated. “However I did not assume to what extent. A minimum of to not the extent that we have seen up to now.”

In 2009, San Diego was on the middle of the H1N1 influenza virus pandemic within the nation. The virus contributed to the deaths of 58 individuals domestically, in response to the San Diego Union-Tribune

Public Well being Officer Wilma Wooten addressing issues over the H1N1 virus’ discovery in San Diego County in 2009.

However COVID-19 was a a lot totally different state of affairs.

As of February 25, 2021, the virus has contaminated greater than 258,000 individuals domestically and brought greater than 3,230 lives, according to data from the County of San Diego’s Well being and Human Providers. 

Wooten recounted how she saved county well being staff on observe to combat the virus head-on.

My mantra is that failure shouldn’t be an choice.”

Wilma Wooten, M.D. – San Diego County Public Well being Officer

By February 2020, San Diego County’s MCAS Miramar was designated to simply accept a number of the first “diplomatic evacuees” arriving by aircraft from Wuhan, China, Wooten stated. The subsequent month, she acquired phrase {that a} cruise ship was coming to the mainland with passengers testing constructive for COVID-19.

Wooten stated the federal authorities regarded to San Diego as an answer for the issue.

“Due to the expertise we had with the federal authorities,” Wooten stated. “They trusted that we’d do a great job in managing that state of affairs in order that’s the place we began within the first three months of addressing points associated to COVID-19.”

Wooten recollects the final 12 months’s occasions like one other day within the workplace, including that she’s a “workaholic,” and in 2020, “these hours didn’t change.” 

However whereas she was targeted on the well-being of San Diegans, she noticed different well being officers throughout the nation who couldn’t take the strain. 

“Many well being officers resigned or stop for varied sundry causes final 12 months,” Wooten acknowledged. “It is troublesome and nobody is glad with no matter determination is made. You might have individuals which might be for the choice, you’ve individuals which might be in opposition to this determination. Our premise is to go together with what’s doing the best factor.”

Nathan Fletcher addresses the press about what the county is doing to assist San Diegans keep wholesome.

Wooten and county officers have had loads of critics over the drastic steps they needed to take over the previous 12 months: opponents of face masks mandates, stay-at-home orders, and enterprise closures. Even County Supervisors opposed a few of her choices all year long.

These steps led to protests all through the county, and even some enterprise homeowners brazenly defying Wooten’s orders.

Whereas empathetic to the struggles for a lot of residing throughout COVID-19, Wooten stated it doesn’t imply she would change something.

“We perceive individuals’s frustration. Nobody likes change and the orders that had been being issued on the state and native stage promoted change,” Wooten stated. “And these had been adjustments that individuals did not wish to see and it impacted their day by day lives, their skilled in addition to their private lives.”

When requested if there have been any choices she made that Wooten would change now, with 20/20 hindsight, she stated, “I actually cannot assume I might have achieved something otherwise.”

Wooten’s solely want? That San Diegans as a complete would have taken the virus extra severely.

“I perceive about fatigue and people bored with staying at dwelling, bored with carrying facial coverings,” Wooten stated. “However going out, gathering, and going to events after we had particular steering and orders in place, that is what I want had occurred otherwise is that some individuals would have taken this extra severely.”

“We’ll get by this.”

Wilma Wooten, M.D. – San Diego Co. Public Well being Officer

Wanting ahead, Wooten stated it’s all about vaccinations and that it comes down to 3 issues: infrastructure, workers, and provides. She stated San Diego County has the primary two coated, however in terms of provides, she’s reliant on a protracted checklist of things.

Nonetheless, she feels “cautiously optimistic” that the top of the pandemic is close to. 

“We’ll get by this. It appears daunting at this time limit and truly trying again, I can not consider the place we have come from however going ahead we are going to get by this and everybody simply has to do their half to make sure that.”

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