Dr. Gordon to give us a weekly COVID-19 report for Harris and Troup County. He discusses case numbers and trends for our community.
HARRIS COUNTY, TROUP COUNTY, COVID-19 REPORT
MARCH 1, 2021
Improvement continues, but it’s possible that the rate of improvement is starting to flatten. Note on the three week graph that the initial slope on most of these lines are a little steeper than the later slope.
With vaccines in the news so much these days, it’s understandable that people are thinking vaccines are responsible for most of the improvement. I don’t think that’s the major driver right now. The drops are similar to what we’ve seen from the first two waves. Around 8% of the US population has had two shots and we’re seeing disproportionate improvement.
I think it’s masks, social distancing and hand washing. We ratchet up things when it gets terrible and start to let our guard down way too soon. If you look at the US, long term graph (thin blue line), you’ll see that our current numbers are still higher than the peak of the second wave!
So why are Texas, Mississippi and other states dropping some of their restrictions? Biologically, it’s the wrong thing to do. Australia took that route and has less than a thousand deaths from Covid on that continent. Clearly there’s other factors driving the states decisions than these numbers.
Not shown here are hospitalization numbers. Some time ago, I looked up the average length of stay for a patient who did NOT require a ventilator and it was 10 days! Frequently, multiple admissions have been found to be necessary for some individuals. Fortunately, some of the pressure is being removed from the hospitals as the Long Term Care facilities Residents (Nursing Homes) are approaching 70% in their immunization prevalence. I’m not expecting herd immunity in these settings, but, as about 40% of the deaths were from this population, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that hospitals may have it a little better if authorities gauged their reactions to disease prevalence.
Probably, that won’t happen and I think it quite possible that general levels of disease may be allowed to flare to hospital capacity levels again. Between restrictions being relaxed and the rise of the variants from England, Brazil and South Africa, we still have the necessary starter kit for another big wave, perhaps as early as the end of this month. It really depends on human actions. Maybe we can avoid this. That history remains to be written, and, to a degree we’re in charge of our fate.
Great news though on the vaccine front. It’s been announced that there should be enough vaccine for all American Adults by the end of May! If, and this is a big if, we can get both shots, or the one J&J shot, that into arms by the end of July, we might be looking at breaking the current situation.
I find it encouraging that an increasing percentage of people want the vaccine. The virus won’t leave the planet, so there will be clusters of cases. After the pandemic is declared over, individuals who are not immune won’t be protected by others, good habits and luck forever.
We should bear in mind that the USA is not an island. The world’s population will require the vaccine and we ought to be willing to do what’s necessary to get that done. Why? It’s purely selfish if you really want to think about it. If the world is not immunized, Covid-19 will continue to have so many Petri dish humans to mutate in, we’ll be at much more risk from it. To substantially improve our own safety, we need to vaccinate the world.