LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Despite ongoing efforts to get more people vaccinated for COVID-19 and the threat of the new Omicron variant, Kentucky's top doctor sees the end of the pandemic in the future.
So many of us are tired of it and ready for a return to normalcy, but Dr. Steven Stack says we still have more work to do.
"We'd like to be done with the pandemic, but unfortunately, the pandemic is not finished with us," Stack said Thursday morning. "I have concern for hospital-based workers, other acute health care workers.
They are overworked and part of that is because there aren't enough of them.
"They're exhausted, they're working under very stressful circumstances, the workforce is smaller than it was before," Stack said.
Governor Andy Beshear announced Thursday our state is 12 to 20 percent short of the number of nurses we need. He says we also need at least an additional 16,000 nurses by 2024.
"Given this set of facts, today, I'm signing an executive order declaring Kentucky's nursing shortage in the midst of a deadly global pandemic, an emergency," Beshear said.
The height of the delta variant was just a few months ago when we thought maybe we were nearing the end of this. When COVID fatigue grew, so did the number of COVID cases.
"Perhaps it is no worse than, maybe a little more mild than the delta variant," Stack said.
Now we face the newly-developed Omicron variant. According to the CDC, almost half of the 50 United States have lab-confirmed cases of the variant. As part of our discussion with Stack, he says it's just a matter of time before our state is shaded in green.
"We have not yet had a confirmed case laboratory-wise here in Kentucky but look, I'll tell you it's here somewhere we just haven't found it yet," he added.
Stack says we've made good progress with getting people vaccinated, but still not quite enough. With Christmas a little more than two weeks away now comes a prime opportunity.
Stack says if you want to get vaccinated before Christmas or want to get your booster, now is the time to allow your body to become protected before the holiday.
We asked Stack if we will return to normalcy and if there is an end game to COVID.
"We always live life going forward," he said. "And so it's difficult to look back and say can we get back to what we had. I think the answer is we can get very close to what we had."
"Some folks have chosen that they're not going to participate in this journey, and we'll have to move forward somehow," he added. "But the longer this drags on, the more adverse consequences for everyone in society."
Simply put, the outcome is in our hands.