(source bu.org)

S. E. Williams | Voice News

Officials report despite a dramatic decline in new cases since the introduction of FDA-approved vaccines, San Bernardino County is continuing to see outbreaks of COVID-19. While most of these patients are not experiencing life-threatening illnesses, they still pose a threat to the county’s more vulnerable residents.

“Most of the people we are now seeing are young and in generally good health,” said   Rodney Borger M.D., an emergency room physician at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC). “Yet while few face truly life-threatening conditions, many still suffer a variety of unpleasant effects in both the short and long terms.”

Dr. Borger’s greatest concern however is that unvaccinated individuals will spread the virus to residents who are older, otherwise vulnerable to serious consequences, or that may experience long-term effects from the virus. The CDC reports the most common lasting symptoms from getting COVID-19 are fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, and chest pain.

“We have done an excellent job getting our most vulnerable residents vaccinated, and the results can be seen in our dramatically lower hospitalization and death rates,” Borger explained. “However, a substantial portion of our population has declined, or at least delayed, getting a vaccine shot.”

San Bernardino County Vaccination Rate

The county’s COVID-19 Dashboard reflects as of July 8, only 45.5 percent of county residents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated. Borger went on to stress that virtually every new case currently involves unvaccinated individuals and highlighted how COVID-19 will remain active as long as a significant portion of the population continues to forgo vaccinations.

“Frankly, there is a segment of the population that has simply refused to get vaccinated, including a number of incarcerated individuals,” Dr. Borger said. “There is little we can do about this group. However, there are other county residents who don’t oppose vaccinations on principle but have simply neglected to get a shot. These are the people we are urging to get vaccinated — if only to protect others, if not themselves.”

The Unvaccinated Are Vulnerable to Variant

According to Borger the lingering population of unvaccinated individuals is particularly concerning in light of the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is significantly more contagious than earlier versions of the coronavirus.

Data recently released by the California Department of Public Health show 35.6 percent of coronavirus variants analyzed in June have been identified as the Delta variant, which was first identified in India. This data reflects a dramatic increase from May, when it accounted for just 5.6 percent of analyzed coronavirus cases in the state.

“The Delta variant spreads much more quickly and easily than previous strains,” he said. “Fortunately, the approved vaccines have been shown to protect against it. So, the solution to the problem remains the same—the need to convince the unvaccinated to invest 20 minutes or so to get a shot.

“Shots are free and easy to come by,” he continued. “Getting vaccinated now requires nothing more than a walk-in visit to the local pharmacy.”

S.E. Williams

Stephanie E. Williams is an award winning investigative reporter, editor and activist who has contributed to several Inland Empire publications. Williams spent more than thirty years as a middle-manager...

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