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Public health directors discuss societal changes that will stem from the pandemic

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Posted at 11:00 AM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 17:36:11-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Public health directors say there are a handful of changes the COVID-19 pandemic caused they hope stay post-pandemic.

"Public health is about behavioral change. That's really what it comes down to. Really modifying behaviors is what we hope to accomplish," Paul Pettit, the public health director of Orleans and Genesee Counties said.

They said some of those behavioral changes may be for the better.

"Like wearing masks and social distancing, meeting virtually instead of in person and also just in terms of how we've been able to restructure health care to make it safer and more convenient or low cost through virtual visits," Dr. Gale Burstein, the health commissioner of Erie County, said.

"These are not bad strategies especially during flu season when you're going to have more illness circulating in our communities," Pettit said.

The public health directors said they think that going to school or work slightly sick like one may have more than a year ago may not happen anymore.

"We can really reduce the spread of these viruses among our colleagues, among our staff if we could potentially remove the source from the environment and that is allowing those individuals to stay home," Dr. Kevin Watkins, the public health director of Cattaraugus County said.

"We need to change our societal norms where it's okay to stay home when you're sick and that you're not going to get fired if you don't come to work when you're sick. We have to have some form of paid sick leave and family leave," Christine Schuyler, the public health director of Chautauqua County, said.