COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — The COVID-19 pandemic is inevitably extending itself into its second year here in 2021, and health experts say, the next few months... will probably be a repeat of what we have already been experiencing.
So what can we expect as we progress into 2021?
"We are still going to be practicing a lot of caution and we definitely should be," Kristie De La Garza, a licensed professional counselor at Texas A&M said.
Over the last year, our country and the rest of the world, has experienced a number of things on a level like never before, including pain and loss. Still, an unimaginable amount of uncertainty continues into Jan, a month that is usually seen as a fresh start.
"I am just thinking, there is a lot, that we are going to be paying attention to with just the general health of our community," De La Garza added.
A licensed professional counselor at Texas A&M, De La Garza says she not only expects, but hopes, to see an increase of awareness of our own mental health, and in the use of services health professionals provide.
"Because we have access to Zoom and all of this, tele-health, I think maybe moving forward, there is going to be even more access for people who wouldn't generally seek counseling or mental health, or even health services because of limitations.. can't get somewhere. De La Garza shared.
With a vaccine roll-out behind schedule, wide-spread protection still isn't quite where it needs to be.
"The vaccine has not yet been able to roll out, and have an uptake yet, to be able to protect us on a community level. Being tested remains so important," Dr. Rebecca Fischer, an Infectious Disease Epidemiologist at Texas A&M said.
But even with hope on the horizon vaccines provide, health professionals remind us that we still need to remain watchful in this process.
"I am thinking, that someone had said... "when you call in the cavalry like, we have a vaccine coming, we are rounding the corner, it's a new year" that doesn't mean we put our guard down, and we are like "Oh thank goodness, something is about to change and things are about to get better" ... no... we still stay vigilant.. Right?," De La Garza shared.
With a holiday season just behind us, the next few months could be painful Fischer shared.
"That, at this time, is on top of the increase in cases of what we are already experiencing, before the holidays hit us. This month, and mostly likely next month, will be very tough for us as a community and as a nation," Dr. Fischer added.
As we all battle the unpredictability of what's next during this pandemic, experts say, our behavior could determine its direction.
"I do hope there is going to be an increase in empathy, and compassion, for each other, and our communities ,and recognizing, that we can actually have some responsibility on how, those who are impacted by this pandemic, more so than us, that we can actually help people. I hope there is an increase in that compassion." De La Garza added.
Although it's a new year, the same struggle carries on, with our eyes full of hope.