BY JULIE VAISHAMPAYAN, MD, MPH, FIDSA
Stanislaus County Public Health Officer
This week we mark the end of 2020. This has been a truly difficult year with the pandemic taking an enormous toll. There has been great loss of life; one of every 1,000 Stanislaus County residents has lost their life due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week we have seen reported so far (there are reporting delays) seven people who call Stanislaus County home died from COVID-19 each day.
There has been loss of livelihood with people unable to work due to temporary and permanent business closures. Loss of education time most probably leading to lasting impacts that are not yet fully understood. These losses have been greater in some communities, especially those communities with fewer resources to protect themselves from this unrelenting viral spread.
We are leaving the year in a surge of cases averaging 450 new people diagnosed with COVID-19 each day. While the case increase is not as steep as a month ago, the holiday celebrations may start another explosion of spread, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Our hospitals are full and our healthcare workers are exhausted. They are doing everything they can to continue to care for the hundreds sick in the hospital with COVID-19 and the hundreds sick in the hospital with other diseases each and every day. If together we don’t slow spread down, our hospitals will no longer be able to care for everyone to the standards to which we are accustomed. This will result in more deaths, more loss to our communities.
We do have hope. The vaccines are here! We have two. They are SAFE and they are EFFECTIVE. It will take some time to have enough—enough vaccine and enough vaccinators—to start controlling this pandemic. But we have started and are on our way to a better 2021.
In the meantime, we know what we must do to stop spreading this deadly disease in Stanislaus County:
— Stay home except for essentials;
— Wear a mask when leaving home;
— Stay at least 6 feet away from all people that do not live in your house;
— Wash your hands;
— If you are sick and/or test positive for COVID-19, stay home and away from everyone. Leave only for medical care including to get tested. Tell your contacts that they have been exposed and need to quarantine;
— And finally, when it is your turn, get vaccinated.
As we enter a new year, let’s all recommit to health. It is going to take all of us taking these essential actions to slow the spread and stop this pandemic.