Everyone who can should step up and help protect themselves, their families and the community.
As we emerge from this pandemic, we’re probably all looking at our phones a little differently now.
Between Zoom meetings, takeout, Amazon deliveries, FaceTime, Facebook, and plain old phone calls, these devices quickly became our lifelines to the world. We looked to these screens as a vital link to our families and friends: so we could see their faces, hear their voices, share their stories, and tell them we loved them.
I’ve been using my phone to stay in touch with something equally vital this past year. I’ve gotten a notification every time a patient in Sarasota Memorial Hospital has died of COVID-19.
And those notifications still happen far too often.
Since the COVID-19 vaccines started becoming available in December, we have seen tremendous progress in staunching this pandemic. Hospital admissions and deaths from COVID-19 have dropped 80% since January, and as May came to a close, we had only 20 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
That is amazing progress, and I am proud of everyone at Sarasota Memorial for doing their part, just as I am proud of the wider Sarasota community for doing theirs and getting a vaccine.
But not all of the numbers tell such a one-sided story.
Since January, the average age of patients hospitalized at SMH with COVID-19 has dropped from the 70s to the mid-50s, and the average age of those dying has dropped more than 20 years. While this tells us that many of those most vulnerable are receiving the vaccine, it also tells us that far too many people still at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 are not getting the vaccine.
Just this month, we saw four patients die within two days. Three of them were under 60. One will never see 50. All of them were too young.
With COVID-19 vaccines now widely available and approved for everyone 12 and older, the responsibility falls on every one of us to get the shot if we can. Like wearing masks and social distancing these past months, we do this not only to protect ourselves but to protect our families and those most vulnerable, especially those who may not be able to receive the vaccine because of age or otherwise.
Vaccines save lives. And that’s the simple truth.
This is our shot.
David Verinder is president and CEO of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System