‘It didn’t have to be this way’: Local doctors say current COVID surge was preventable

UW Health Dr. Jeff Pothof shares what he wishes all Wisconsinites would do in 2022

MADISON, Wis.– If you are ‘over’ talking, hearing, and worrying about COVID-19, Dr. Jeff Pothof is with you.

“There is only so much humans can take before they say, ‘I can’t do this anymore,'” the UW Health doctor told News 3 Now. “You see death and dying every day in a row, and it wears on you.”

Only, unlike most Madisonians, Pothof has spent more than 600 days fighting the disease on the front-lines.

“You see the sorrow it causes not only for the person that’s affected, because oftentimes, that person is in a coma. It’s their family members that come in. And it’s hard to see that,” he said.

The pandemic isn’t going the way Pothof, or any of the country’s top doctors, predicted. The omicron variant continues to set new records every day.

The most frustrating part?

“It didn’t have to be this way,” Pothof said. “What’s made it worse was that we all felt it was an emotional moment when vaccines become available, thinking, ‘This is it. We made it. All we have to do is get vaccinated and this goes away.'”

Four of five people in Dane County are fully-vaccinated, but statewide, the vaccination rate lingers at 60%, making it likely you know several people who haven’t gotten their shots.

“My wish for 2022 would be easy: I’d wish everyone would have a sudden change of heart, and we’d have very high vaccination rates in this country,” Pothof said. “We’d have very high rates of boosters.”

“Then, what we’d see is COVID likely continuing, but people not getting very sick, people getting mild cases, and they wouldn’t end up in the hospital,” he added.

“This is preventable.”

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