(WYTV) – Throughout the pandemic, health care workers have been on the front lines, fighting to protect the public. They put their own health and safety on the line. This week’s Hometown Hero has been sharing her decades of experience with infectious diseases to keep our community safe.

“I do what I do for the community because I love what I do,” said Dr. Virginia Banks.

As a local infectious disease specialist, Dr. Banks has been a guiding light throughout the pandemic.

“There are so many mixed messages out there. What I try to do is try and sort things out and give people information that I think will be helpful and to the extent that I can,” she said.

As the COVID-19 virus has evolved, Dr. Banks has made it her mission to educate our community. Shining a light on topics like masking, the COVID-19 vaccine and how the virus brought the conversation of racial disparity back to the forefront.

Her decades’ worth of experience has made her a trusted source of information.

“This is my 47th year in practice in infectious diseases and I think I come to the table with a background and can see things from a scientific standpoint that maybe a lot of others can’t,” Dr. Banks said.

In the late ’90s, Dr. Banks served on the FDA. She understands the process of drug companies submitting their vaccine information to the FDA and what the agency does with it.

“That has helped too in terms of me telling people, ‘Well, how does all this work?’ I know,” she said.

Dr. Banks even took time out of her busy schedule to make several appearances right here on WYTV during our evening newscasts, like doing live Zoom interviews.

She was very surprised to be named our last Hometown Hero of 2021.

“I’m just so humbled and honored. Thank you so much! You know, I don’t even think about any of this, I just think about trying to get the word out because I want this to end,” Dr. Banks said.

And she’s optimistic it will, but says we all have to do our part. Even if it means getting back to the basics of wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene.

“We will win this war. We will win this war. I have no doubt about it. We will win,” Dr. Banks said.