More Isn’t Always Better

We are experiencing more of many things, mostly nothing to feel good about.

Sadly we are seeing more families with food shortages, more individuals who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic many of which may not return, more economic hardships, more people without health insurance, many whose insurance was tied to their jobs, more violence, more smoking, more drinking, more domestic violence, more drug overdoses and overdose deaths, more depression, more suicides, more post-traumatic stress syndrome and more children born affected by maternal substance misuse. And finally, we now have more COVID-19 cases than we have ever had.

We are in an area where we have been perhaps too complacent because up to recently we have had a low prevalence of the virus. But now we need to double down and take more control of the spread of the disease. The rapid and escalating rise in COVID cases in the United States as well as the world is super scary. And it’s just not the number of positive cases, it is the increasing number of hospitalizations and deaths. Many hospitals are overwhelmed right now, reminding us of New York City this past spring. Already, ICU beds are in short supply in some states, and it’s reported that there are some hospitals whose pediatric nurses have had to care for adult cases with COVID because health care providers are simply not in enough numbers to cope with the rapid onslaught of patients. And to top it all off, there still is a scarcity of personnel protective equipment for those taking care of patients. Who could have predicted this? Pictures of portable morgues are very disturbing. All of this is as frightening as it gets, and the numbers are exploding as we approach the holidays.

The news of vaccines is exciting and very welcome. However if all goes well with the remainder of the trials, the production, the distribution and actual vaccinations, we will still have to wait until enough people get immunized to make a difference in the disease spread. In the meantime, probably until mid-summer and fall of 2021, please do what is known about controlling the pandemic and what we actually have control over. It is simple, but will require patience, commitment, encouragement for others, and role modeling. Here is what we need to do: Wear a mask! This keeps you safer and others safer from the virus. Social distance — six to 10 feet apart. Avoid large groups! And being outside is much safer than indoors. For the holidays, as hard as this will be, and sad for many, enjoy them with the household you live with. Follow CDC guidelines, which hopefully will become more stable as time goes on.

This isn’t meant to be a lecture. It is from real concern about what the virus is up to while we are going about our lives. And being smart about this will help keep schools and businesses operational — we need to avoid any kind of lockdown caused by failure to follow basic public health guidelines.

Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney is a Jamestown resident and retired WCA Hospital medical director.


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