By Dr. Stephanie Paulmeno, DNP, RN, NHA, CPH, CCM, CDPPublic Health Education Specialist/Greenwich Department of Health
Covid-19 is now a preventable disease, yet that reality is doing us little good as a nation. The COVID-19 Delta variant continues to race across the country and is here in Connecticut.
Hospitals, ICUs, and COVID units are again reaching surge capacity in our hardest hit areas, and those areas are expanding across the country. The Delta variant is more highly contagious than the original COVID strain, and has become the fastest spreading of all the circulating variants.
The sad reality is that proven prevention measures only work if you actually use them, which in this case are vaccinations, masks and social distancing. When we look at those who are hospitalized, those in ICUs, and the dying, 99% of them are people in all age groups who have chosen to remain unvaccinated. Our 7-day average of new cases in the U.S. rose nearly 70% in one week, and the rate of our hospitalizations and deaths also rose dramatically. As of July 21, there were 58 patients currently hospitalized with COVID in Connecticut. We have lost 8,282 of our friends, neighbors and loved ones in our state.
No longer are these poor souls our elderly and frail; these are now younger people and even children, who were healthy before being struck down by the Delta variant. The saddest part of this tragedy is that it could be turned around literally overnight for all except those under 12 who are not yet approved to get vaccinated. Everyone who is unvaccinated places these unvaccinated children at risk. Adults make their own choices. These children and their families have to suffer the consequences and potential loss of life as a result of choices made by others. In Greenwich, as of July 14, 2021, 68.14% of the vaccine eligible population has had 1 vaccine dose and 73% of them are fully vaccinated. In Connecticut, 68.7% of those over 12 have received at least one dose of vaccine while 62.5% are fully vaccinated. Only 56.2% of Americans have received one vaccine dose and just 48.7% are fully vaccinated (CDC), and therein lies our problem and the reason for Delta variant spread.
The rapid spread of the Delta variant was anticipated by scientists, health, and public health professionals who understand the science behind infection control, disease and pandemic spread. It was inevitable when data was viewed by those who track community vaccination rates in the regions, states and communities of our country. Areas with low vaccination rates are at higher risk for Delta variant outbreaks just as unvaccinated individuals are at higher risk than those who rolled up their sleeve. It is as simple as that. As CDC Director Walensky said, we now have a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and what can we say? Those who get infected, become sick, and fall terminally ill have examined their options and made a conscious choice. We hear accounts nightly from those who did not get vaccinated, or who wanted to wait a little longer, and who are now ill and wishing they had not waited so long. What are you waiting for? The vaccines are safe, free and readily available.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, and the Greenwich Department of Health urge you to get vaccinated, to wear a mask when indoors with others, to stay socially distanced, and to continue to practice good hand washing.
Please don’t wait until it is too late. There are many places where you can still get your COVID vaccines.
The Greenwich Department of Health has compiled a list of convenient vaccination sites in our area: