By Richard Sternberg, M.D.
The son of two former members of my religious congregation died of complications of COVID over this past weekend. He was 38 years old. Of course, his parents are devastated. He was an adamant anti-vaxxer.
Currently, in the intensive care unit at Bassett Hospital, which, by the way, is full, there is a 30-something female who has complications of COVID. I’m told that she had been vaccinated, but I don’t know her booster status or whether she was eligible.
New York ordered every hospital in the state’s Mohawk Valley, Central New York, and Finger Lakes regions to its list of “impacted facilities” to stop non-essential, non-urgent elective surgeries “due to the increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations” in those regions. That includes the whole of the Bassett Healthcare System with the exception of O’Connor Hospital in Delhi.
The local numbers are the worst they have yet been. Otsego County’s Department of Health counted 1,207 cases per 100,000 population on Monday, January 10, with 959 active cases, 92 new cases, and 1 new death.
The percentage testing positive is 15.3%.
Some people are telling me that the current spike in COVID cases, which is massive, is nothing to worry about since Omicron causes less sickness and death than did Delta. Some say that we have to just live with the virus, it’s here to stay. Some still believe that it is a government hoax. Others believe that they (and their families who don’t seem to figure in their calculations) will only get, at worst, a mild form of the virus.
A friend who called me today sounded very sick. I told him to get tested. He insisted it was just a chronic sinus condition and other members of his family tested negative. He refused my recommendation.
I myself have eight risk factors. I am very concerned. Not only do I greatly resent those who won’t protect others by getting immunized, I am concerned that overwhelming hospitals both with bed limitations and loss of staff will cause care for problems other than COVID to be delayed or avoided. This has been recognized as a national problem.
I have an elective surgical procedure scheduled for March. Will it be delayed again, and will that delay allow the underlying condition to get worse?
We are effectively heading for a local lockdown soon, not because of mandates but because there won’t be enough people to get the work done. Doesn’t it make sense to do everything possible to slow down this disease and mitigate the height of the curve so that health care doesn’t totally implode?