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I am writing this letter on August 1, 2021. I have been out of the country for the past ten days, and during this time COVID-19 has exploded once again in Florida.
Florida leads the nation in hospitalizations, not just in aggregate, but in the hospitalization rate per capita. As of yesterday, Florida had more patients hospitalized with COVID than at any other point in the pandemic. Between 89-97 percent of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated. And the unvaccinated are sicker than the vaccinated. For instance, in Lee Hospitals, there were 43 patients in the ICU for COVID this past Thursday, and 100 percent of those very ill patients were unvaccinated. Virtually all this severe illness is preventable with a vaccine.
The median age of hospitalized COVID patients is now in the 50s, when last year the median age was in the 70s. Older residents in Lee County have been very willing to be vaccinated, thank goodness. In my medical practice, I estimate over 95 percent of patients over 65 are vaccinated.
Last week, 409 people in Florida lost their life to COVID. To put this in perspective, about 60 people die from traffic accidents each week in Florida. Virtually all these COVID deaths are preventable.
The Delta variant is much more transmissible than any previous variant. Patients can be asymptomatic for many days, spreading COVID before developing symptoms.
So what can be done? First, everyone needs to strongly consider getting a vaccine. Don’t do it just for yourself, do it for all of us. We have a chance to eradicate the virus and end the pandemic if everyone gets a vaccine. Second, please wear a mask indoors in public spaces. School is starting soon, and children should be wearing masks in the classroom until we increase vaccinations to the point that COVID subsides. Last year, schools in Lee County were open, and we had a very successful year of in-person education—because kids were wearing masks.
I am not in favor of closing schools, closing restaurants, or closing beaches. Let’s get vaccinated, wear masks, and take other precautions against COVID so we can keep schools open, protect human life, and preserve economic growth.
Dr. Scott Crater, M.D.