Judson Haims: Resurgence of COVID-19 is partially avoidable | AspenTimes.com

Judson Haims: Resurgence of COVID-19 is partially avoidable

Judson Haims
Special to The Aspen Times

If you are unvaccinated, you will likely get the coronavirus. This seems to be a pervasive comment from scientists across the globe. Is it true though?

Sadly, here in the United States, COVID-19 has become just another divisive issue among political parties. And, while people may dispute the veracity and intent of our country’s leading medical scientists, the fact of the matter is new variants of COVID-19 are killing people. This is not “false information” nor is it politically biased.

Infection rates are increasing, and people are dying. The delta variant, which was first identified in India in December, is in 96 countries and spreading at a faster clip than all other variants. It is the dominant variant worldwide and here in the United States, it is responsible for more than 70% of cases. According to the American Medical Association’s liaison to the Centers for Disease Control, Sandra Fryhofer, MD, the delta variant “is hyper transmissible, a full vaccination series seems to protect against it, but you need both doses of a two-dose series — one mRNA vaccine dose may not be enough.”

As of July 13, CDC data indicates that Missouri and Nevada are the hardest hit with new cases of the delta variant, 74.6% and 44.1% respectively. Here in Colorado, the delta variant accounts for 36.5% of all COVID-19 cases.

I recently read an article from Johns Hopkins that was quite distressing. Jennifer B. Nuzzo, DrPH, lead epidemiologist for the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Testing Insights Initiative and Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health stated: “There’s fairly clear evidence that the delta variant spreads faster. So, when people get infected, they’re capable of infecting more people and we accumulate more cases in a given period of time with delta. That’s concerning, because it means that some places that have been really good at controlling the spread of COVID through traditional public health tools, like testing and isolation and contact tracing, are having a harder time keeping up with the spread of the virus.”

As tourists from around the globe took refuge in many of our mountain communities this past year, we did a pretty good job of mitigating the spread and horrific consequences of COVID-19. Outside of those first few months when many mountain communities were locked down and again around the holiday break, much of the past 18 months afforded people to live pretty normal lives. For those that chose, many of our outdoors activities were available, restaurants and grocery stores were open, and access to medical needs were met. Such luxuries may soon be lost and our freedoms may once again be pulled back.

As of July 23, the CDC report shows the current seven-day moving average of daily new cases (40,246) increased 46.7% compared with the previous seven-day moving average (27,443).

Across the U.S., the recent surge of COVID-19 deaths have almost entirely been among those who were unvaccinated. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky recently stated, “Ninety-seven percent of people who get so sick with COVID-19 that they have to be hospitalized are unvaccinated.”

In Louisiana, the State’s Health Officer, Dr. Joseph Kanter, has stated that 94% of all cases in Louisiana since May are occurring among individuals who were not fully vaccinated.

Scientific Officer Lorraine Lillis, PhD from the global organization Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), recently stated the delta variant “poses a serious risk to people who are not fully vaccinated, as it is highly contagious. There is also some indication that the delta variant may result in more severe disease.”

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, also believes the unvaccinated and communities with lower vaccination rates are at greater risk. He recently stated, “Despite the rise of the delta variant, still 97% of people who are hospitalized or killed by this virus are unvaccinated.”

Clearly, COVID-19 is not behind us. The virus still poses great health risk and threatens our freedoms of daily life. If people continue to chose to be unvaccinated, we may all be wearing masks again and succumb to greater restrictions.

In Los Angeles County just recently, regardless of vaccination status, residents were mandated again to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Puerto Rico and Washington all have mask mandates in place.

It is true — the unvaccinated are at greater risk of the perils of COVID-19. As tourists in general, along with those who are unvaccinated, continue to flock to our communities, our exposure to COVID-19 will be elevated. I do hope that our mountain communities take precautions through the summer.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or 970-328-5526.