Roy Exum: A Terrifying Thought

Sunday, September 19, 2021 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

It is no secret the Delta variant of the COVID pandemic has all but crippled our bulging hospitals. There isn’t a room to be found in any nearby hospital and the ravaging consequences are best detailed in our ever-rising death rates. But it could be worse. As of Friday, there were 3,422 patients hospitalized in Tennessee with 1,033 in intensive care, 747 so sick they are on ventilators. But it could be worst. In Hamilton County we had 286 new cases on Friday to move our active cases up to 3,097 with 319 hospitalized and 82 in ICU. But again, it could be worse.

Can you imagine in your worst nightmare if there was no vaccine? Almost all of today’s victims are unvaccinated.

What if 2.9 million people who have been inoculated in Tennessee were as defenseless as those who continue to flirt with fate? It would hardly be a far reach to see how our health system would totally implode, as if it were not already on the brink with almost 300 new cases every day and the average hospital stay a week or more.

Let’s be real honest. Had not 51.1 percent of Tennesseans taken at least one dose of the vaccine, our hospitals would not come near of handling the crush and, to be brutally frank, many thousands would die a horrible death from lack of care. “I can’t imagine,” Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said earlier this week. “I don’t think we’d be functional. I can’t imagine our hospitals could even remain open,” he told Al.com reporters.

Dr. Michael Saag, a renowned infectious disease specialist at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, also participated in the conference call with reporters and said that the outlook for the rest of the year depends on vaccination efforts. “It really depends on what we do,” Saag said. “If we all commit to getting vaccinated now, if we all go back to wearing masks especially indoors vigilantly, if we do it all the time, we can bring it under control.”

He said that getting vaccinated was a way of helping the community as a whole, even if the person won’t do it for their own safety. “I have, in my opinion, somewhat of an obligation to look out for ‘my brother’ or ‘my sister’ and try to help them and protect them as best I can,” Saag said. “The way we can do that is by exercising choices that protect not only ourselves but them … and to me that means getting vaccinated. To me, that means wearing a mask when I’m out in public while we have this degree of high transmission.”

“If everybody were vaccinated right now, our hospitals wouldn’t be clogged,” Saag said. “That’s a fact. That’s just a fact. So that’s what we can do to help ourselves and other people.” Saag said that almost 90 percent of people hospitalized with COVID and 95 percent of those who died from COVID were not fully vaccinated. UAB said last week that the “vast majority” of vaccinated patients who do get hospitalized with the disease were immunocompromised, having prior conditions that weakened their immune systems.

“Every time we consider ‘do I get a vaccine or do I not?’ we’re really not asking the question yes or no,” Saag said. “We’re saying what’s the risk of a side effect, and long-term complications from a vaccine versus what’s the risk of a side effect and a long-term complication due to actually catching COVID.

“And there’s no comparison.” Dr. Saag told AL.com that while people do have the choice to get vaccinated or not, those choices are impacting the larger community by continuing to circulate a deadly disease and keep hospitals filled to the breaking point.

Dr. Harris agreed. “People have the right to make their own decisions, absolutely, but as (Saag) said, that right really ends when you’re talking about an infectious disease that you are spreading to other people,” Harris said. “We allow people to do what they want but not to the extent that they can still harm other people.

“You know, smoking is a great example. You can smoke as much as you want, and you can’t stand in a crowd of people in a public space and blow smoke on them, you know, we don’t tolerate that. That’s the best example I know related to the pandemic. I love football, but I cringe when I look in the stands and see people crowded together screaming when I know that with our current rate of infection out of 100,000 people in a stadium, there’s likely to be 700 to 1,000 of those people who are infected at that moment in time,” Saag said.

“With the rates we have today, if there are 10 people in a room, there’s a chance that one of the 10 is infected is about 20 percent,” he said. “If you go to a group of about 50 people the chance of one out of the 50 being infected is well over 80 percent, maybe up to 90 percent. If you have 100 people in the room, there’s a 99.9 percent chance of one out of the 100 people, in today’s transmission rate, is infected.”

“You don’t know who they are,” Saag said. “You throw 1,000 people, 2,000 people into a concert you can do the math and see that you’re talking about at least 10 to 20 people in the crowd are infected, and they’re spewing out virus that they’re singing, that they’re cheering, if that type of thing, even if it’s outdoors, if you’re sitting in front of that person and they’re spewing this virus, hundreds of thousands of copies, into your direction. You breathe it, Delta has got Velcro on it, and when you breathe it in, it’s gonna’ stick, and you’re very likely to get infected. So, use that information to make wise choices.”

* * *

DUSTIN AND TRISTAN GRAHAM, on a YouTube channel known as “The Dixie Pickers,” earned popularity where they would teach others how to buy and resale vintage clothing and other items. Not long ago Dustin scoffed at the delta variant, bragging on his site, “I’ve got my own passport. It’s called the Bill Of Rights.” He also said, “I think this whole thing will be behind us in a couple of years”

The Huntsville resident claimed the vaccine was “actually a form of immunity therapy”. On August 27 his wife, a cancer survivor, died of COVID and, on Thursday, some three weeks after Tristan’s death, Dustin also died of COVID.

* * *

AN ANTIQUES DEALER in Cullman, Ala., suffered a heart attack this week and the closest hospital that emergency workers could find to treat him with a bed was 200 miles away. He died en route.

* * *

ACCORDING TO THE BECKLER’S Hospital Review, a number of hospitals have terminated employees who refuse to take the vaccine. Never mind these employees have been with the hospitals for many years or that there is the biggest shortage of “front line” workers ever, this bit of “political correctness” is as foolish, as unnecessary, and as boneheaded as common sense can possibly imagine. Such shortsightedness could equate into an unattended death, and we all know it.

* * *

A VACCINATION isn’t the problem... It’s the solution. Please get vaccinated today.

royexum@aol.com


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