We've all seen the tents set up in parking lots and the refrigerated trucks being used as morgues at hospitals during the previous Covid case spikes. Those two periods of time were preceded by a general relaxing posture toward mitigating the disease, despite warnings. The outcomes were not unexpected. Once the vaccines started to reach general availability for adults, the relaxation started again, but this time, it felt justified. We had an out, and it was glorious and powerful.
But not everyone played along.
Here in Florida, only 51% of people are fully vaccinated, so when you're out in the world, half the people you encounter are not fully vaccinated, but everyone is acting as if the pandemic is over. You know what happened next. The state has 50% more cases than in the peak of last winter. The death count is about the same so far. The real issue though is that hospitalizations have doubled since the winter peak. There are 1,500 people in Orange County hospitalized with Covid, and zero ICU beds available.
A friend ended up going to the ER last weekend after a serious cut to her knee, as it clearly needed stitches. The lobby was full of people waiting. The receptionist asked her to wait behind the desk with her, to stay away from everyone else who was assumed to be infected with Covid. There were no treatment rooms available, so a nurse practitioner did her best to get her set up on a random counter, where she did the stitches. The nurse confirmed that the hospital was full, and about half of the patients were there for Covid, all of them unvaccinated.
The downstream effect of this is that there is a limit to the amount of care, and therefore the quality, and it doesn't just affect the Covid patients. If you come in there for a heart attack, you may not get the level of care you would ordinarily get. Diagnostic procedures may be delayed. We're having the meltdown we were trying to avoid, and it was totally preventable. I'm frustrated to no end that all of the people who were protesting over haircuts and bar visits could have done the work to make it safe and low risk for all of us, and empowering the economy in the process.
Anecdotally, it appears that vaccination rates are headed up, and I really hope that's the case. I never thought it would be a hospital in my own neighborhood that was in trouble.