More than 1,100 in the U.S. are still dying every day from COVID-19. Every three days, we are losing more Americans than the number that died on 9/11. Just because we don’t see it sneaking up on our families does not mean the COVID terrorist is defeated. While deaths are mainly in 12 northern states, it is highly likely we will again experience a similar problem in Texas and across the U.S. If we wait until the situation is bad locally, the surge will be even harder to control than if we act now to prevent it. I want us to act as a country united against a common foe, and I hope you will join me.
Every day I evaluate risks and probabilities of bad things happening to my patients so I can prevent them. If I did not look at their medical history, I might be surprised at what is happening and my patient would be less safe. We only need to look to other states to see what is likely to happen in Texas.
According to Bloomberg News, Connecticut has a huge delta COVID surge happening. The unvaccinated make up 77 percent of those hospitalized with COVID. In Pennsylvania, a chief medical officer says, “It’s worse already than it was a year ago, and it may get even worse.”
Unvaccinated people have about 14 times the risk of dying from COVID-19. Each adult’s risk of serious disease drops dramatically with being vaccinated and boosted. Those who have had COVID are at risk of getting it again if they are not vaccinated.
Even though children usually do not get a severe case of COVID, those with underlying medical problems may be at much higher risk. It is very important that all children be vaccinated as soon as possible so they do not spread it to other children and adults who might have severe disease. Even if your child is healthy, get them vaccinated now because a small percentage of healthy kids will develop long COVID symptoms and not be well for many months.
We would be safer if schools reinstate all preventive measures, but with an option for when masks are a problem. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it is safer if everybody wears a mask in school. Some parents tell me masks are bad for their child’s mental health, and I believe them. Schools requiring a choice of either face shield or mask for all students and staff would not violate Gov. Abbott’s order to make masks optional. A mask is the safest option, but a face shield is a good backup.
Medical workers wear masks every day to protect your safety. The longest I have worn a mask in one day is 22 hours. That was unpleasant for me but necessary for my patients. If your friends hassle you for wearing a mask, you can unapologetically tell them, “I am doing it for someone who loves me and wants me to be around for next Christmas.”
Everyone is at more risk of getting a serious case of COVID with a higher transmission rate in the community, so the goal is to do everything to stop the virus from infecting anyone. With surges in our colder states, the time to act is now to prevent another devastating surge in Texas. I want you to get vaccinated or boosted soon and wear a mask or face shield in public now. Children will be safer if vaccinated now. If we wait for local conditions to worsen before we act, we will only let the COVID terrorist get closer to our family and take our freedom.
Robert Luedecke is an anesthesiologist.
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