MILWAUKEE — Dr. Laura Cassidy says there’s light at the end of the tunnel within the context of the ongoing pandemic.

She is professor and director of epidemiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

“I think we’re sort of in that final stretch, the seventh inning, where you know we just have to dig deep and really buckle down,” she says.

Cassidy says she’s hopeful because of some recent developments in the search for a vaccine.

“There’s promising news with vaccines coming out right now, and if enough people get vaccinated we’ll get this under control,” Cassidy says.

That’s not to downplay what’s going on in Wisconsin, she says.

“Right now the rates are going up and up, and the higher it goes, the faster it spreads because the more people have it,” she says. “Our hospitals are filling up, our ICUs are filling up, we have the holidays coming, and ultimately we want to protect our healthcare workers too. We want to make sure they don’t get sick and they don’t get fatigued and that they can take care of all of us whether it’s COVID or another diagnosis.”

She says people cannot relax their approach to battling the pandemic.

“The message really is right now it is so widespread the only way to stop it is to minimize our interactions with one another and keep wearing masks and keep social distancing and washing hands and avoiding crowds, and to the extent possible avoiding gatherings,” Cassidy says. “Those are all layers of protection. It’s not one of the above, it’s all of them.

She knows the message from doctors and health officials has been roughly the same since the early days of the pandemic. She says while redundant, there’s no better message and approach to battling the virus and ending the reign of COVID-19.

“There is pandemic fatigue and we all feel it,” she says. “What we really need now is people in the community to support each other. They’ve all heard from us - they’ve heard from the epidemiologist, the scientists, the medical professionals. People in the community need to reinforce each other, they need to talk about it, they need to make their own rules about how to stop the spread and talk about it in a reasonable way.”​