Life-Saving Sacrifice Needed Now

Posted: July 15, 2020

By B. Konard Jones

California’s rapidly deteriorating situation left Gov. Gavin Newsom little choice but to reinstitute the closure of some high-risk activities on Monday, knowing it would be loudly denounced by those unwilling to see the obvious.

California, once the poster child for aggressive efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, is scrambling to thwart a surge that could cripple health care systems up and down the state. In a crisis, we should be pulling together, but it does not look like we are doing that.

At NorthBay Healthcare we see the grim warning signs:

  • More patients than ever with the virus need hospitalization;
  • Recovering patients are discharged with damage – perhaps permanent – to vital organs;
  • The spread has reached more senior care and living facilities, a result of those outside bringing it in and infecting those inside;
  • A health care workforce suffers from stress and fatigue after five long months of managing a pandemic in our community; and
  • More deaths.

Today, our two hospitals and ICUs have the capacity to treat COVID-19 patients and all others who need care. But how long that will last is unpredictable, especially when we look around. Hospitals in some parts of the state could soon run out of beds as California’s seven-day average of new infections approaches 9,000 daily. Positive test rates climbed above 7 percent this week after hovering near 4 percent.

Months of progress in preventing the spread is evaporating.

Even a skeptical administration in Washington is now “trying to correct” its guidance from earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, saying that wearing face coverings is now necessary. The Surgeon General insists they were going with the scientific knowledge at the time, but admits they were wrong back in March.

Two leaders of the Association of American Medical Colleges urged last weekend, “As we are seeing from the surge in COVID-19 cases in areas that have reopened, science and facts — not wishful thinking or politics — must guide America’s response to this pandemic.”

They noted: “This does not mean that scientific knowledge and recommendations will not change as our understanding of the virus grows. To the contrary, a successful response depends on Dr. Fauci, his colleagues, and scientists throughout America’s system of medical research who are able to draw conclusions based on current observations and continuously adjust those conclusions based on continuing observations. Science is, and must be, a dynamic and evolving process.”

Evidence is in the numbers, though I fear the daily counts and the statistics are no longer resonating with restless individuals. But it should be startling to learn California is adding about 7,000 new cases per day, 28.6 percent more than a week ago.

And what about Solano County? Here’s a snapshot that should serve as a dire warning:

  • In June, total cases stood at 1,126; two weeks later, it nearly doubled to 2,219;
  • There were 27 patients hospitalized on June 29; two weeks later, there were 57;
  • The county’s five hospitals had 39 percent available capacity two weeks ago; on Monday, it dropped to 33 percent; and
  • The death toll grew from 23 to 31 in just 14 days.

We aren’t doing a good job in Solano County. We are not taking personal responsibility and adopting four simple behaviors: wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance and avoid social gatherings.

We cannot give up on containment.

Why is it that the only thing that worked in other countries is apparently something we as a country are unwilling to do?

It’s maddening to see Fourth of July block parties with buffets and bounce houses, unmasked attendees at a funeral, large family gatherings and crowded beaches.

But that is what is occurring. Participants include so-called civic leaders, revelers of all ages, and most disheartening, even some health care workers.

Have we grown numb to the escalating death toll? Are we now accepting the hundreds of new cases each day in our community?

I realize people want to go on living their lives. But unless we change – and change now – too many of us will not be around to go on living.

Not feeling well? Have a friend or relative who is not feeling well or has questions about testing? Direct those questions and concerns to – Ed.

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