Expert Alert

Living with COVID-19 in 2022

Drs. Beth Thielen and Kaz Nelson
Assistant Professor Beth Thielen (left) and Associate Professor Kaz Nelson (right).

After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, a full return to "normal" feels out of reach. Many people have become more accustomed to large social gatherings despite COVID-19 cases still being reported in high numbers.

Drs. Beth Thielen and Kaz Nelson with the University of Minnesota Medical School and M Health Fairview share tips for staying safe and moving forward with an infectious disease that appears to be here to stay.

Beth Thielen M.D., Ph.D.

“Heading into last summer, many people were quite optimistic that the COVID-19 vaccines were going to completely halt transmission, and return to normal pre-pandemic life was just around the corner. With the emergence of the Delta and then Omicron variants, we realized that those expectations were too ambitious. While a future free of COVID-19 may not be realistic, we now have many tools at our disposal — masks, vaccines, and treatments — that can allow us to return to relatively normal activities if they are used wisely.” 

Dr. Thielen is a physician-scientist trained in adult and pediatric infectious diseases. She joined the faculty in pediatrics in 2020 and is developing a translational research program focused on the molecular epidemiology and viral pathogenesis of human respiratory viral infections, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. She also has interests in clinical immunology, the role that host genetic variation plays in the response to infectious diseases and the global burden of respiratory infections.



Beth Thielen
Assistant Professor, U of M Medical School, M Health Fairview
[email protected]


Kaz Nelson, M.D.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has harmed the mental health of Americans. COVID-19 can directly injure the brain, causing acute and chronic mental illness. A protracted crisis response can result in chronic stress, which also increases the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illness. This is true now and will continue into the future as we face surges and prepare for future pandemics. We must work together to reduce the spread of disease, integrate scientific evidence into public health initiatives and promote an informed public.”

Dr. Nelson is certified in Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Nelson’s clinical interests lie in the area of best practices in diagnosing and managing severe personality disorders, suicide and psychotherapeutic communication with patients. Dr. Nelson serves in the position of Associate Designated Institutional Official, a role with leadership responsibilities across residency and fellowship programs at the University of Minnesota Medical School.


Kaz Nelson
Associate Professor, U of M Medical School and M Health Fairview
[email protected]




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