Close to Home: The coronavirus isn’t beaten yet
We know it’s not a popular thing to say, but as medical professionals who care deeply for this region and its people, we need to say it: Sonoma County, we have not beaten COVID-19 yet.
Yes, we’ve vaccinated almost three-fourths of our eligible residents. Yes, our infection rate is nowhere near the peak we saw in January. And, yes, it feels glorious to resume some of the activities we enjoyed before the pandemic. But no, our work is not done.
In fact, as we write this, we are seeing more evidence of new variants, and it’s hard to pick up the paper without reading about the devastation in places like India and Brazil.
Locally we are again experiencing a hospitalization trend in the wrong direction. For example, at our largest Providence hospital in the county, Santa Rosa Memorial, the number of COVID-19 patients is double what it was just two weeks ago. While the totals are not huge, the trend is troubling.
The common denominator for this surge in patients is that they are not vaccinated. The science is very clear that the vaccines available to us in the U.S. are highly effective at lowering the risk of infection and the severity of the virus.
But we still have a quarter of our eligible population in Sonoma County that is not vaccinated. There is no way to sugarcoat this: Unvaccinated individuals are at significant risk, and our hospitalization trend is not reassuring.
As physicians, we’re trained to provide medical guidance to help patients avoid harm. So let us take this opportunity to do just that. The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is vaccination.
Today, there are new patients who never thought they would get COVID-19 who are getting sick. For them, their moment of clarity may have come too late. But for everyone else, you can still make this choice.
Dr. Richard Carvolth is regional chief medical officer for Providence, Northern California. Dr. Chad Krilich is chief medical officer for Providence, Sonoma County.
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