‘Scary’ surge is more than number

A healthcare worker is inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, Fla. Ninety residents and 80 staff members received their second shot of the vaccine Wednesday and 50 new staff members received their first round of the vaccine. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Late Tuesday evening, a registered nurse took to Facebook to share her plight regarding the rapid COVID-19 increases that are taking a toll on every portion of this region. Her plea was simple and to the point: right now, the virus is “scary.”

“Listen up … ! I praised you for keeping us safe during the beginning of this pandemic. This is the time to show your true colors,” wrote Jessica Cappa of Jamestown. “We have to double down! It is time. Our hospitals are getting full. The hospitals we transfer our heart attacks and strokes to are over capacity. We have four-hour waits for COVID testing at our Urgent Cares, meanwhile I am seeing 10 to 12 patients per hour. There are cases everywhere, many are newly exposed and shedding the virus without symptoms.”

Over the last three days, her post has been shared 172 times. Impressive, but nowhere near enough.

Across America and in Warren County, we have saluted those who have been on the front lines since the start of the pandemic more than nine months ago. Health-care workers, particularly those in emergency rooms and intensive care units, have been living what must seem to be an unending reality.

However, if we really want to show our respect to these heroes, we need to take Cappa’s words to heart. She, like others in her profession, are first-hand witnesses to the numbers being compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Health that we all only read about.

Too many individuals, friends and neighbors here — especially at the holidays — have not been heeding the warnings to avoid gatherings and crowds, to wear facial coverings and social distance.

How else do you explain the numbers? Since Dec. 7, there have been 1,179 new cases through Thursday. This from a county that had only 50 confirmed cases in October.

We have no one to blame but ourselves.

Even if a large majority of those COVID cases are minor or asymptomatic, the other 10% — or 118 in the last 31 days — can place a tremendous burden on local hospitals and care centers.

No person, organization or business is immune to this virus, especially in the current crisis. Nursing homes and care facilities are struggling. Small local businesses and restaurants hang on by a thread.

This virus has likely become worse than any of us could have even imagined — and it’s adding to the stress of the front-line everyday heroes.

“The sheer number of cases …. has left every Health Department overwhelmed and unable to keep up with timely, accurate tracing,” Cappa’s Facebook post concluded. “The Health Departments are having to prioritize work clusters to provide guidance with exposures in large facilities. This is not kindergarten, if you know the dodge ball hit you, you are out! There are not enough people to keep up with this tracing. It is a scary thought that it is that widespread. It is! It is scary!”

John D’Agostino is the regional editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and the OBSERVER in Dunkirk, N.Y. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call (716) 487-1111, ext. 253.


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