Last week, parents of athletes looking to attend the Cooperstown Dreams Park experience this summer, were notified that in order to participate, they will be requiring proof of vaccination for anyone 12 years old and up. Anyone under 12 years old, simply has to provide proof of negative test (however, they did not give a timeframe for how recent that test needed to be).
As you can imagine, there is MASSIVE backlash from parents for this decision, and timing of notification, as well as the numerous things grossly wrong with these requirements. First, and foremost, there is not even a vaccine available or approved for use in anyone under the age of 16. At this point, there is only ONE vaccine available for 16- to 18-year-olds, and ZERO available for anyone younger than that. So, they are putting a requirement for play, that is completely unattainable. That’s like saying the grass needs to turn purple in order for anyone to be able to attend. Those that were able to get through to CDP yesterday, and speak to someone about this egregious plan, state that CDP told them that they will be taking the summer on a week by week basis, and if the vaccine isn’t available for an upcoming week, then they will simply cancel that week and move onto the next one.
Leaving people out all of their entry money, travel expenses, lodging expenses etc, and they claim that they are FIRM on this policy.
Over 50 SUNY Oneonta students have joined forces in an effort to spread the word about the availability of COVID vaccinations to communities across Otsego County.
“We organized this within days” said Linda Drake, director of the college’s Center for Social Responsibility & Community, which organized the effort. “Students made schedules in 24 hours and we have every mobile home park and low income housing development from New Berlin to Sidney. It’s been great service to our community.”
I and multitudes of people, from the President of the United States on down, have tried to convince people to get vaccinated when they are eligible, and to maintain basic public health precautions; wearing masks properly, washing hands and surfaces frequently, and maintaining social distance. Only about 60 percent of the adult population has followed these recommendations and a similar percent say they will get vaccinated.
If this continues, we may never get to go back to things the way they were, because enough of the population will remain vulnerable and the virus will still circulate and mutate. Once it mutates enough, it will defeat the immunity provided by most of the vaccines.
So, to the people who refuse to follow the best practices to eliminate COVID as a continued threat to normal, social, life, if you are not going to get the shot for some reason you picked up through rumor, learned on the internet or because of political position, maybe you will try to protect yourself, friends and family. If not, it is hurting you where it really matters, in the wallet.
Despite the chilling toll – 3,483 COVID-19 cases and 54 deaths – Otsego County people, our neighbors, friends and family, have a lot to be proud of as we ended The Year of The Pandemic on Monday, March 15, we found in revisiting the last 52 editions of this newspaper.
Throughout, there was worry, dismay and grief in the face of the implacable and mysterious foe, but little panic. In reviewing the newspapers, there was, and is, much determination, focus and purpose among our neighbors and our community leaders.
At the county level, board Chairman David Bliss promptly issued an emergency declaration on Friday, March 15, 2020, that outlined many of the steps that have marked our lives since then. Going forward from there, the county board was tough and visionary in the face of disappearing sales- and bed-tax revenues.
The reps laid off 59 FTEs, no fun for anyone. Then – guided by county Treasurer Allen Ruffles – they assembled a plan based on historically low-interest loans and fast-tracking roadwork, which the state CHIPS program still reimburses, to ensure solvency. When President Biden’s $11 million stimulus allocation was announced in recent days, it was appreciated at 197 Main, but not essential.
On a parallel track, county Health Department rallied under Public Health Director Heidi Bond, doing the COVID testing and contact tracing that – along with masks and social distancing – have been central in controlling the disease to the extent we have.
She was already heralded as this newspaper’s 2020 Citizen of the Year, but not enough appreciation can be expressed to her team’s hard work and accomplishment.
This past weekend Bassett performed an amazing feat of vaccinating a large group of people, more than 1,100 over two days. The confirmation of vaccine availability only came though on Wednesday, March 3, leaving but two full days to prepare. Nevertheless, I visited on Sunday and it had the appearance of a military operation (which in a sense it was).
The Bassett community, from Dr. Tommy Ibrahim on down should be proud, as should the staff of the Clark Sports Center, which hosted the event.
I want to especially commend the Bassett Director of Network Pharmacy, Kelly Rudd, Pharm.D., who was in command of the clinic from planning through implementation.
She worked from the list of patients from the state, a list of patients from Bassett’s own scheduling system, and an ad hoc group of volunteers who worked to contact and track down people qualified to be vaccinated, but for whom the computer-driven scheduling system was difficult or even impossible to use.
Also, many thanks are due to the Bassett staff who took the time to make hundreds of calls to help schedule seniors 65+.
There are many reports of computer-savvy individuals signing up friends, family members, and neighbors for vaccine appointments. To see this community spirit and kindness is a great thing.
The clinic was also able to smoothly access the waiting list to make sure no dose went unused. The volunteer group – which went out and identified about 175 people who had difficulty finding appointments on their own – included church members, other faith-based organizations, philanthropic NGOs (non-government organizations) including the Community Foundation of Otsego County, and additional individuals.
Many had been working on an individual basis, but recognized the synergy of working together.
WEBINAR SERIES – 7 p.m. Online series ‘Outsmarting the Pandemic’ continues with presentation ‘COVID-19 Vaccines: Worth A Shot’ on the how the vaccines work, how modern vaccines are developed, more. Free, registration required. Presented by A.J. Read Science Discovery Center, SUNY Oneonta. 607-436-2011 or visit www.eventbrite.com/o/science-discovery-center-and-planetarium-14332374215
Earlier this week, Heidi Bond, Otsego County public health director, said, “I think it will open up pretty quickly with Johnson & Johnson,” a reference to the new one-shot vaccine approved over the weekend.
It’s even encouraging to read the daily reports in the doom-and-gloom national newspapers.
Monday, March 1, the Washington Post told us the seven-day average of “cases reported” dropped from 248,128 to 68,040.
As of that day, WAPO said 50 million Americans had been vaccinated, about the same number of us over 65.
Now, that’s progress.
After the state website kept complaining the whole State of New York had only been receiving 400,000 vaccines a week for its 16 million eligible citizens, Monday, March 1, it posted:
“New York is expected to receive approximately 164,800 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week, pending final FDA authorization.”
That, plus 400,000 a week we’re already getting: It would still take 80 weeks to serve New York’s eligible citizens, but it’s accelerating.
The good news is if New York State gets the vaccine, New York State can administer it.
This marks the 50th column I’ve written in this series.
It’s hard to believe on many levels: How long we have been restricted or locked down, that I am still doing this weekly when we figured we would need to do this for at best a few months, that there remain new things to write about (in fact, every week brings new information), that my publisher makes me pay for my own subscription.
I am very grateful to my readers who have given me useful feedback, my publisher for giving me a forum to spread this information, and to my daughter who is a real scientific editor and has helped me with advice and, at times, review of my work.
In celebration, I’ve decided to write a column with good news for a change. (This is NOT to mean that we don’t still have to be vigilant, maintain masks and social distancing, avoid crowds, etc.)
Just that there’s finally some good news to write about.
►In a study of 600,000 people in Israel, which has vaccinated a higher proportion of its population than any other country, there has been a 94-percent drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections. The vaccinated group was also 92-percent less likely to develop the severe form of the illness if present.
I was asked to give a talk at the Center for Continuing Adult Learning recently in Oneonta. It was supposed to be on vaccine development and distribution, but two days before I was to give it, I was asked by a participant to address treatment of active COVID-19.
Up to this point I have avoided discussing this because each physician chooses treatment for each patient based on many factors, including recommended protocols, approved medications, and most important, consideration of each patient as an individual.
Nonetheless there is some general advice from the NIH (National Institute of Health).
The NIH divides severity levels for COVID-19 into five parts with their recommendations.
►ONE: Not hospitalized, mild to moderate COVID-19.
There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against any specific antiviral or antibody therapy.
SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies are available for outpatients who are at high risk of disease progression.
Antibodies bind to the virus, block its ability to get into a cell, and trigger a response from white blood cells to come and attack the virus.
Antibodies could be natural or manufactured. Dexamethasone is a steroid anti-inflammatory which is approved in more severe stages and should not be used here.
►TWO: Hospitalized but does not require supplemental oxygen.
Dexamethasone should not be used. There are insufficient data to recommend for or against the routine use of Remdesivir. (Remdesivir is a drug specifically to treat viral diseases). For patients at high risk for disease progression, the use of Remdesivir may be appropriate. (Yes, I too find this statement very confusing.)
►THREE: Hospitalized and requires supplemental oxygen, but does not require high-flow oxygenation, mechanical ventilation, or an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenator – sort of like a heart/lung machine used in open heart surgery).
Use one of the following three options: Remdesivir for patients who require minimal oxygenation, Dexamethasone and Remdesivir for patients who require increasing amounts of supplemental oxygenation, or Dexamethasone alone when combination therapy cannot be used or if remdesivir is not available.
►FOUR: Hospitalized and requires oxygen through a high-flow device or non-invasive ventilation. Use one of the following options; dexamethasone or dexamethasone and remdesivir.
►FIVE: Hospitalized and require mechanical ventilation or ECMO. Use dexamethasone.
There are other drugs that have been considered for use in COVID-19.
One is Invermectin. Others are monoclonal (all one type) antibodies as described above. Another drug fluvoxamine (Fluvox) is a drug used for obsessive-convulsive disorder and was hypothesized to block excessive inflammatory reactions.
Bottom line if sick is, find a physician who you trust. A good physician will listen to a patient’s concerns and questions and then when you are comfortable with them, your best shot is to follow their instructions.
By MICHAEL FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
As Margaret Wolff waited during the recommended 15-minute observation period following her inoculation Saturday afternoon, Jan. 30, Rita Tetenes was at her home here.
Tetenes was not one of the lucky ones.
Although she and her husband Leo are in their 80s, they still live independently in a far, hilly corner of Otsego County. Schoharie County begins across the narrow valley from their home, and the Delaware county line is at the bottom of the hill.
“We have no computer at our home. We don’t have cell service. You need a satellite phone to make calls out here,” Tetenes said during a call from her house.
She has not used email since she retired four years ago, and does not know if her old flip phone can send text messages.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes, but it has to be via the phone. I heard about the clinic at Clark but I called and all the spots were already taken. We didn’t even have a chance,” she said.
“Every place that we’ve called, whoever we spoke to, they’ve all been extremely nice, but if they can’t help us, they give us another phone number,” Tetenes said. The bottom line is that “no one can help, at this point.”
As of 11 a.m. (Monday, Feb. 1), 90 percent of first doses allocated to the state have been administered. This represents 1,393,064 first doses administered of the 1,554,450 first dose allocations received from the federal government. So far, 307,662 second doses have been administered out of 725,050 second doses received.
from GOVERNOR CUOMO’s Daily COVID report.
View COVID-19 New York State Vaccine Tracker Here.
By MICHAEL FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Margaret Wolff was one of the lucky ones.
She was one of the first 310 members of the general public to receive their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Bassett Hospital’s first public clinic Saturday, Jan. 30, at the Clark Sports Center.
For three weeks she’d tried to get a vaccine appointment. Some days she got online at 6 a.m., figuring she might find an available slot when few people were awake. She heard a rumor that the state Department of Health made appointments available at noon, so she logged in then, even though it was difficult to do so during work. Nothing was available.
Last Friday evening, a friend called to say there were open appointments at SUNY Polytechnic in Utica. She got right on her computer and tried for three hours. “It said they had appointments, but the website was down for maintenance,” she said. “I kept refreshing it ’til 9 o’clock and then I thought, ‘The heck with this, I’m just not going to do this,’” and went to bed.