I hope it was a great weekend for all. Amazingly, we actually saw the sun for a change! And of course, sunshine is forecasted for the week while we are back at work! It figures. I wish I were writing with a focus on plastic surgery or our medispa procedures, but once again, I am being dragged back to Covid updates.
With all of the Brittney Spears headlines in the news these days, the tune "Ooops... I Did It Again," keeps coming to mind. But this week, my blog is also part "service announcement."
I have written previously that Covid is something that we are going to have to get used to, as it is not going away. But more worrisome is the recent surge of cases, likely attributable to the Delta variant.
Here's what the "boots on the ground" can tell you...The Roper Hospitals are nearing max capacity. The high census levels are due to the high levels of Covid cases combined with "business as usual operations." Around this time last year, Roper had placed a temporary halt on elective surgeries, but as of now, there is no information that restrictions will be imposed.
I am guessing that the reason operations are "business as usual" can be traced back to January and February, when another surge occurred and no restrictions on elective surgeries were imposed and the hospitals were able to weather that storm. And, I'm sure there's a financial reality as the prior restrictions and lockdowns in 2020 placed huge financial burdens on the medical institutions. Restrictions also limit access to patients needing treatments like cancer care.
However, I cannot emphasize enough the negative impact Covid is having on healthcare currently. The city of Jacksonville, Florida, has halted elective procedures and the hospitals are overflowing.
Georgia is similarly in a difficult situation. One of my orthopedic colleagues received a transfer of a patient 100 miles away in Georgia last week due to unavailability of care. The pharmacies in the town of Hilton Head ran out of antibiotics last week.
Nobody wants lockdowns and mandates, but until more people are vaccinated or have achieved natural immunity, the admission of seriously ill patients to the hospitals will keep occurring.
While the vaccination rates of Charlestonians equal the national average and a significant number of our patients achieved natural immunity through contracting Covid, the state at large trails the national average and we are also a tourist hotspot, which makes us susceptible to the variants.
Additionally, we have a high proportion of obesity and diabetes amongst our citizens, which are HUGE risk factors for complications related to Covid. Most of the hospital admissions are those who were not vaccinated. And from what I gather, many of those hospitalized are also suffering from obesity.
According to a survey done by the local Chamber of Commerce, there is growing fear amongst business owners that lockdowns may occur due to the Delta variant. Despite this survey, I fear that the populace's feelings to Covid have become something akin to its attitudes towards hurricanes.
We have heard doom and gloom news and warnings so many times from the likes of government officials, ie Fauci and the CDC, people have grown immune in a manner not too dissimilar to evacuation warnings for a hurricane. After so many false alarms with cat 4-5 hurricanes that turned into tropical storms, people were less inclined to evacuate during our last hurricane threat.
People want to get on with their lives and return to life without masks and this stupid virus; there does not seem to be much alarm in the folks with whom I have spoken. I have seen news reports about the state of Florida and its Covid cases. But, did you know that according to the NY Times, while Florida's Covid cases are up 84%, South Carolina's cases are up 241%???!!! (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/covid-cases.html).
The timing also is unfortunate as plans are being made to return to school. As much as we dread those masks for our children, I think we should be prepared for masks on students and teachers.
So, what's the take home and what do you do with this cheery news? Well, I do support the vaccine. Admittedly, nothing in medicine is risk free, and the vaccine is no exception. However, the information to date is that the vaccine or natural immunity will keep you out of the hospital and or dying from the virus and its variants. If, however, you cannot or won't get vaccinated, I do recommend masks.
We have no data that quantifies the effectiveness of masks, but if you are not immune to Covid, I do feel that there is value in wearing them to protect yourself and others. If we want to keep our society open, these two measures will help.
It also can't hurt to lead as healthy a lifestyle as possible...monitor your blood sugars and get out there and exercise!
I am also hopeful that with the current vaccination and natural immunity levels that this surge will be short lived. So we just need to power through once again. England apparently is on the downward curve of its delta surge, so hopefully we will follow shortly. I will continue to keep everyone updated on the Covid situation. In the meantime, stay safe, stay home if you are sick, and enjoy the sunshine and outdoors this week (just don't forget your sunscreen)!