The coronavirus Delta variant is on the move. New cases worldwide are growing at the rate of 700,000 a day. Globally, the unfortunate milestone of more than 200 million cumulative COVID-19 infections has been reached, with an associated death toll of more than 4 million.
More than 100,000 new cases are occurring in the United States each day, and Indiana recorded 2,000 of those yesterday, a figure not seen since the surge over the holidays. Hancock County has recorded more than 20 new cases a day recently and testing sites are experiencing significant increases in volume.
At Hancock Regional Hospital, a busy COVID day over the last few months was a handful of patients in the emergency department and one or two COVID positive inpatients. Today we have nine patients admitted with COVID-19, several of them on ventilators because they cannot breathe on their own.
The common thread between all these numbers is that most newly diagnosed infections, and almost all hospitalizations and deaths, are among unvaccinated individuals. A few days ago, a patient who was admitted to our hospital with breathing difficulty lamented her regret at not taking the vaccine. Another patient currently in the hospital is sedated and on a ventilator, not expected to survive. If they are fortunate enough to recover, they will be greeted by the devastating news that their spouse and mother have both died from their own battle with COVID.
It is heartbreaking to all who work in healthcare to see such needless suffering and death for a disease that can be prevented either through vaccination or through simple preventive techniques like wearing a mask. Symptoms of PTSD are becoming all too common among healthcare workers across America. Nurses, in particular, are retiring in droves, leaving the large hospitals shorthanded and unable to accept transfers from rural and suburban communities like ours.
We appear to be entering another critical phase of the pandemic and we humbly ask our family, friends, and neighbors to take care. If you have not been vaccinated yet, please consider doing so soon. If you choose not to be vaccinated, please be careful. Wear your mask, avoid crowded spaces. Most older folks have been vaccinated, it is the younger folks that are now in most peril. Though the chances of a young, healthy person having a poor outcome from COVID are low, they are much, much higher than the risk of taking the vaccine.