ROCHESTER, MN-- The mood at Mayo Clinic was undeniably upbeat this morning as six frontline workers received the coveted COVID-19 vaccine. There were cheers as the doctors, nurses and a respiratory therapist rolled up their sleeves and received the first of two shots.
In a Zoom news conference after the shots were administered, Dr. Casey Clements, who diagnosed the first case of COVID-19 at Mayo, was fairly gushing as he talked about where he and his colleagues have been and how there is now hope.
"It feels pretty remarkable to come full circle from what we were doing so long ago," Clement said while smiling broadly. "It seems like back in February and March up to this point where now we hopefully have a light at the end of the tunnel. It is one of the first hopeful things we have had to look forward to throughout this."
That feeling of hope, though, is tempered by the knowledge that we are not out of the woods yet. In encouraging people to continue safe practices including social distancing and mask-wearing, medical ICU nurse Abigail Carter spoke of the emotional toll inherent in caring for dying patients who are isolated from loved ones.
"Knowing that their loved ones can't be there and be with them is heartbreaking," she said swallowing against the emotion welling up in her throat. "I've had families call and say I don't want them to be alone and we just have to reassure them that they're not alone, that I'm here with them and I'm holding their hand and I wish you could be here too."
To a person, all of the vaccine recipients spoke of a renewed sense of optimism now that the vaccines have arrived.