SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s been a month since the World Health Organization declared an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. But COVID is still out there and on the minds of many health care providers.

From City of Sioux Falls news conferences to appearances in the KELOLAND studio, Dr. David Basel became a familiar face during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just because you aren’t seeing him give updates as often, doesn’t mean COVID is gone.

“It’s not nearly as significant as it was before, but it still can have an impact,” Basel said.

Dr. Basel and other doctors are still monitoring for COVID spikes.

“We’re always watching on what’s going on. Is there going to be a resurgence in China that’s going to affect us, or somewhere else that’s going to affect us. So now it’s kind of that smoldering, making sure a wildfire doesn’t pop back up again,” Basel said.

That first wildfire led to full hospital beds, and many nurses like Shea Soderlin had to be on the front lines.

“Then when we were at our peak, we started seeing sick patients that we have never really seen before. A number that we have never seen before,” Soderlin said.

Three years ago, this bed would have been filled with a COVID patient along with many other beds across the country.

The memories of the pandemic are still painful.

“Which one needs medication now, which ones can wait, which one am I concerned about, which one do I need to talk to the doctor about, which one am I going to have to call family and let them know that, ‘Hey, your family member’s not doing well. Do you want to talk to them on the phone and it might be their last goodbye,'” Soderlin said.

Soderlin saw many nurses leave the profession after the height of the pandemic.

“And just seeing the defeat in our new nurses faces, like they may not want to be a nurse anymore. They don’t want to be bedside anymore. It was a stressful time for everyone, new nurses and old nurses alike,” Soderlin said.

But many endured.

“I would say the biggest thing we’re learning is how valuable our staff is, how resilient we are,” Soderlin said.

“I could not be more proud of whether it was the hospitals response to the pandemic or local, regional response. How hospitals worked with employers that worked with the public that worked with the government,” Basel said.

Soderlin and his department were relieved for the first time in years when the news broke about the end of the public health emergency.

“I haven’t even seen some of my coworkers smile ever until we finally got to get rid of the masks, so it’s nice to see their smiles and it kind of brings joy back to the unit,” Soderlin said.

They both say getting the vaccine will help prevent a return to those high numbers.

“I’m lucky enough to get to see that aspect of how COVID affects a person. Some people they don’t get to see how it negatively affects a person,” Soderlin said.

“If we can turn this potential hospitalization into a minor cold, then that’s wonderful. If we can prevent the number of people that it gets spread to a single case that’s how you keep those at risk protected,” Basel said.

And prevent a return to the difficult days of the pandemic.

Dr. Basel says COVID-19 numbers have dramatically dropped, but he says to always be alert for COVID symptoms to prevent the spread.