When the topic of COVID-19 comes up, there are a lot of different opinions. Some say we are in deep trouble. Others believe it is “much to do about nothing”. Here are some actual numbers and facts. On Saturday Oct.31st, Wisconsin reported 5,278 new cases which set a new record. In fact we set a new record 3 out of the last 5 days. 59 people died in Wisconsin Saturday, and we now have over 2,000 deaths. It wasn’t until September 20th that Wisconsin had over 100,000 cases total. In October alone we had over 103,000 new cases. On Saturday October 31st there were 229 new hospitalizations. About 350 people are presently in intensive care and 1/3 of these are on ventilators.
Bringing it closer to home Door County, as of November 2nd we have had 1,022 COVID cases. On August 1st we had only 102 cases. There were over 60 new cases in the last 24 hours. On September2nd, we had only 3 deaths in Door County since the beginning of the pandemic. We now have 9 deaths.
That is a lot of bad news. But the most important fact that we have learned during this pandemic is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We can change things for the better and it isn’t a new therapeutic drug or a vaccine. It is common sense, using basic public health measures. We know that wearing masks when we leave our home is effective in dramatically reducing the spread of the virus. It is protective for us, but it is also protective for people whom we may be in contact. Frequent hand washing with plain old soap and water is very important. If you can’t wash then using a hand sanitizer is also effective. Finally staying away from crowds is crucial, particularly crowds that are indoors.
As easy as these measures are to do, it too often isn’t being followed. Many of us complain of “COVID Fatigue”. We want to be done with this virus and get on with our lives. We also don’t see any results when we practice these measures and so we are not rewarded for our good behavior. We only realize in hindsight after looking at data weeks down the road. that what we did was effective.
We live in difficult times but we are approaching times that may actually be worse if we don’t get serious. Thanksgiving and Christmas are fast approaching. These are the times when being together with family and friends is what it is all about. The weather is also getting colder, and so we will be spending more time indoors.These are the very things that can increase the number of infections. Finally we are approaching the “Flu Season”. It will be very important to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so.
We can do this! There are many reason to get aggressive in mitigating this virus. It could save your life or the life of a loved one. You could save a life you have never even met. If we can lower the infectivity, we can resume “contact tracing”. This will allow us to focus on local “hot”areas of infections. If we are successful we will feel better going to businesses and restaurants which will be a boost to our economy. Finally we can do this because it is the right thing to do. If one asks, “What would Jesus do?” I have no doubt what he would say. It is what he always preached. On a more personal note, I have worked in intensive care areas of medicine most of my life. These workers have dedicated their lives and many have actually given their lives to help others. They are tired, and some have used the word “broken”. Yet they continue to go on. They don’t want to be heroes, they just need relief. That is why this Thanksgiving and Christmas, we will stay home. We will limit any unnecessary travel. We will continue to “mask up” and social distance. I came across a video in which Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk of the Wisconsin Health Department spoke about How Uncomfortable it is to Wear a Mask. I urge you to watch it. We must not ignore what she says.