Health Board president praises workers during pandemic

Health Board president praises workers during pandemic

As the fight against COVID-19 is improving, the president of the Chautauqua County Board of Health is thanking county health employees for their hard work during the pandemic.

During Thursday’s Board of Health meeting, President Dr. Lilian Ney noted it’s been a long two years fighting COVID-19. “Far too many of us have been affected and wounded by this virus, either directly or indirectly,” she said in a prepared statement. “People have died during the pandemic and loved ones have been lost. Those infected with the virus, even with mild illness, are still experiencing various forms of ‘long COVID,’ with brain fog, fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, loss of taste and smell, and cognitive decline among other things. People have lost jobs, lost income and lost housing. Children have prolonged absences from school and employees have worked remotely, with many people suffering from the effects of isolation. Public health workers in many areas have suffered harassment, bullying and threats.”

Ney continued, noting that there is low transmission in the county. “The blessing is that the disease level in our community is low, seems under control, and we are breathing more freely. The hope and prayer is that the pandemic truly is receding in our country as well as globally and that we will not be fighting more variants which could be more virulent and to which our vaccines may not be effective. The issue will remain a concern for us unfortunately, a recent example of which is the emergence of BA.2 in Hong Kong, the U.K. et cetera, but at least for this moment we are breaking a collective sigh of relief.”

Ney then thanked the county’s Health Department and its employees. “Their hard work and dedication has been and continues to be amazing and outstanding. We are grateful for them and their high level and caring performance,” she said.

She particularly praised Christine Schuyler for her leadership. “Our director, who heads the Department of Health, has navigated the difficult waters of the pandemic with competency, calmness, good sense and grace. Managing what must be done for the public health within the framework of sometimes conflicting guidelines is an art form as well as a science,” she said.

Ney said she hopes the government recognizes the importance of funding public health. “Defunding nationally over many years has had its toll and has been uncovered by the pandemic, exposing many gaps and deficiencies. It is of utmost importance that strategies and funding follow. We cannot forget this pandemic and what it has taught us,” she said.

After Ney concluded her statement, Schuyler began to tear up. Ney looked at Schuyler again and thanked her for her leadership. “Thank you for everything, Chris. You’ve been amazing and I realty meant it,” she said.

Before Ney spoke, Schuyler noted how much things have improved in Chautauqua County. “There’s only four people hospitalized in our county with COVID-19. Our seven day positivity rate is 1.9% which puts us in low community level of transmission,” she said.

Schuyler also added that in Chautauqua County, 65.6% of residents have received one dose of the vaccine, 58.7% of residents are fully vaccinated and 53.2% of people are fully vaccinated and boosted. She also noted that 95% of residents 65 and up, who are considered the most vulnerable, have received at least one dose.

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