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- Kyle Troutman: A return to school, but not to normalcy (8/28/21)
- Kyle Troutman: How’s the culture out there? (8/25/21)
- Kyle Troutman: An exceptional experience (8/21/21)
Kyle Troutman: Tsunami on the way
For the first time since February, I was on a conference call this week that I did not want to be on and that the organizer would rather not have to set up.
CoxHealth held COVID-19 calls in November, December and February, initially detailing the initial surge of cases and eventually highlighting the arrival of vaccines that everyone hoped would break the wave.
For months, it did. But now, we’re surfing less of a wave and more a tsunami.
In the last month alone, active cases have gone from 44 to 163 in Barry County and 56 to 157 in Lawrence County, and 10 people have died in both counties combined. More deaths are likely to be announced, as well. It has yet to be confirmed, but a Barry County resident in his 20s is said to have died from COVID in a Joplin hospital.
Steve Edwards, CoxHealth president and CEO, said this week the system is approaching a record number of hospitalizations, at 162 on Thursday — five of whom are at Cox Monett — compared to only 14 in mid-May. Total deaths throughout the Cox system number 26 from July 14-21, and 526 total.
What’s the trend? All of Cox’s deaths are people who are unvaccinated, and only four of the system’s total ICU patients have been fully vaccinated.
Since they’ve become available, we’ve beat this vaccine thing like a dead horse. Frankly, I’m not sure if there are any people on the fence anymore. It seems if you are for it, you’ve received it, and if you’re against it, you simply won’t.
What’s wild about that is many top Republican officials back it.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Polio survivor, said this week, “These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible, or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for that we went through last year.”
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt has over and over again touted the vaccine as the way out, most recently Tweeting on July 13, “Vaccines are the key to finishing the fight against COVID and saving lives. I’ve been vaccinated, and I encourage everyone to get vaccinated as well.”
Even former President Donald Trump backs the shot, saying in March when they became widely available, “I would recommend [the vaccine]. And I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly."
In talking with David Compton, Barry County Emergency management director, the next few months will be crucial. Projections do not have us peaking in cases until October — three months from now.
Schools will have to greatly consider mandated masking again if they want to avoid mass quarantines. The Delta variant has hit the unvaccinated harder, especially children, and those under 12 are not eligible for that protection.
By as early as Oct. 2, 2020, the Monett school district had eight positive cases and 101 quarantines. Cassville on Oct. 7, 2020, reported seven positive cases and 168 quarantines. This all came at a time when active cases in Barry County were only at 59 and in Lawrence County at 129.
The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people can go on with life virtually unrestricted. If not showing symptoms, fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine, do not need to wear masks and do not need to be tested.
They can, however, carry the virus and transmit it while being asymptomatic. A CoxHealth nurse and Monett graduate commented on the Lawrence County Health Department’s Facebook page recently with the best explanation of this I have seen.
“You can still contract and pass on COVID even though you are vaccinated, just like the flu vaccine,” he said. “The point of the vaccine is to help your immune system learn how to fight off the virus if it were to actually enter into your body. This is why over 97 percent of all hospitalized patients who are sick with COVID are unvaccinated. The vaccine helps lessen the chance of you getting seriously ill from COVID.
“The vaccine cannot stop the virus from entering your body. It’s not like a mosquito repellent. Whether you get it from touching a surface and then wiping your nose or rubbing your eyes, or get it from someone sneezing or coughing on you; the virus still can enter our bodies; even though you may be vaccinated. However, our bodies know how to fight it off already, because we received the vaccine, therefore it lessens the chances of you becoming seriously ill from the virus.”
I feel like every time I write about this, I get more and more morose with the topic. Some of our feedback is, “Do you write about anything else?”
We write about plenty of topics, all of which you can see on our website and in print, but I’m not sure any topic right now remains more important than this one — and I’m as ready to stop writing about it as you are to stop reading it.
If you have any other solutions outside of CDC recommendations and vaccinations, please, by all means, share them. But, if your only feedback is to trash the only thing that seems to be working right now, save your time — you may need it.
Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of The Monett Times since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-235-3135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.