Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Coronavirus Update 6-23-2021: We now live a Covid-bifurcated society — the vaccinated and the will-get-sick

I spent last weekend visiting my parents in Philadelphia. Because of the pandemic we had not seen them in 20(!) months. It was a glorious five-day visit.

During our trip to Philly we mixed in a visit to Donovan's cardiologist (whom he had also not seen in 20 months). We learned two things from that appointment. 

First, Donovan's (formerly) narrow pulmonary valve responded amazingly to his October 2019 procedure

Secondly, Covid is still spreading like wildfire among the unvaccinated, even kids. We learned that pediatric ICUs are full of unvaccinated children with serious and dangerous COVID-19 infections. According to Donovan's cardiologist, "It is now painfully clear that you will either get vaccinated or you will get COVID."

Further proof of our Covid-bifurcated society? Consider the Manatee County, Florida, IT Department, which was just ravaged by a COVID-19 outbreak. According to CNN, of the six people infected, five were hospitalized and two died. They were all unvaccinated. The only exposed employee who did not get infected happened to be the only vaccinated employee.

This is only one example from one workplace. But it's a jarring one. We know that the Delta variant, which is more virulent and more dangerous, is spreading rapidly. Considering that 83 percent of unvaccinated exposed employees in that Florida IT department who became ill ended up hospitalized, and 33 percent died, we see the real-life effects of the Delta variant. 

According to Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, the Delta variant "is the most transmissible of all the variants that we've seen." Two weeks ago it accounted for 10 percent of all active U.S. infections. Current estimates are that it has now doubled to 20 percent, and that were are mere weeks away from it becoming the predominant variant in the U.S.

As new vaccination rates continued to decline, it is almost certain that we will fall short of President Biden's reasonable goal of 70 percent with at least one shot by July 4. This is a shame, because vaccines are what will keep all variants of the virus from spreading and further mutating, the Delta variant from taking hold, and life continuing to feel more normal. 

The vaccine is what allowed my family to reunite this past week, and what will allow a much-needed vacation later this summer. It's our ticket to normalcy. 

While I understand that some people have questions about the vaccine, I don't understand the ultimate choice that some are making not to get it. If your only option is vaccine or Covid, I'm picking vaccine 10 times out of 10. It comes down to known versus unknown. The vaccine will protect you from getting a serious or deadly case of COVID-19. The virus? Who knows how it will present if you get sick. You might end up asymptomatic or with a mild case. Or, you might end up a long-hauler with debilitating symptoms for months or longer. Or, you might end up in the hospital, or worse, in the ICU on a ventilator. Or, you might end up dead. It's a roll of the viral dice with every new infection. And, even if you are among the lucky many with no or mild symptoms, you might pass it to someone else unvaccinated who will fare much worse. And every infection is another opportunity for the virus to mutate to a new and even more dangerous variant. Do we really want to see how bad an Epsilon variant can be?

Please, if you're not vaccinated, get vaccinated ASAP. If you have families and friends who are not vaccinated, urge them to do so ASAP. And if you're an employer, do what you can to convince your employees to get vaccinated, either through education or fiat.

We are so close to the end of this crisis. Let's not screw it up now.

* Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash