Hartford Healthcare

1 Year After NBC CT Coronavirus Q & A: Infectious Disease Expert Reflects

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Friday marked one year since Dr. Virginia Bieluch answered your questions on an NBC Connecticut Facebook live about this concerning, new sickness at the time, called COVID-19.

It was a time when, as can be seen in the interview, social distancing was not yet a thing.

Now thousands of coronavirus tests are administered every day.

More than half-a-million Americans have died from the disease.

And, three vaccines are being distributed.

“I had tears in my eyes watching the trucks pull out of the facilities," Dr. Bieluch said Friday.

Exactly 12 months later, we caught up with Bieluch, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Hospital of Central Connecticut and an associate professor at UConn School of Medicine.

She tried to make people feel prepared, but she was honest that experts around the world didn’t have all the answers.

“It was a very scary time for healthcare workers, but I didn’t want to panic the public,” she said.

And their guidance would change too.

In the interview 365 days ago, she said, “We don’t recommend masks. It may give you a false sense of security.”

Of course, that has changed.

“We were taking out information from our leaders at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. I apologize now, but at that point we didn’t not the know the value of masks.”

She hopes people continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing -- especially as state guidelines change later this month.

“If we don’t get people vaccinated, and we don’t wear masks, then some of these new variants can spread.”

While she is cautiously optimistic for Connecticut’s safe reopening, she said what we’ve learned together in the last year cannot be forgotten.

“Just the amount of international travel we have these days and contact with wild animals that there will be another pandemic, but I can’t tell you when, I can’t tell you what virus, but it will happen. I just hope we don’t forget these lessons.”

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