COVID-19 cases in the United States (US) have tripled in the past two weeks amid widespread misinformation (misinformation) about vaccines that overwhelmed hospitals, exhausted doctors and prompted religious leaders to speak up.
“Our staff, they’re frustrated,” said Chad Neilsen, director of disease prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, a Florida hospital. UF Health Jacsonville was forced to cancel surgeries and other elective procedures after soaring the number of patients who generally haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 on two campuses, from 16 in mid-May to 134.
“They are tired. They think it’s like deja-vu, and there’s anger, because we know this is a generally preventable situation. However, people don’t take advantage of the vaccine.” he added.
Johns Hopkins University noted that across the United States, the average daily new cases over the past two weeks shot from less than 13,700 cases on July 6 to more than 37,000 cases.
Health officials blame the Delta variant and the slow pace of vaccination for the spike.
According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (Centers for Disease Control/CDC), only 56.2 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
In Louisiana, health officials on Wednesday (21/7), reported 5,388 new cases of COVID-19, the third-highest daily new case since the outbreak of the deadly virus began in March 2020. The number of hospitalizations across the US also rose, from 600 in mid-June, to 844 cases.
Utah reported 295 people were hospitalized with the virus, the highest since last February. This past week the state had an average of about 622 cases per day or about three times the transmission at its lowest point in early June. Health data show spikes are common in people who are not vaccinated
“It’s like seeing a car crash before it happens,” says Dr. James Williams, a clinical professor of emergency medicine at Texas Tech, who recently started treating even more COVID-19 patients.
“None of us wants to experience this again,” he added.
He added that most of the COVID-19 patients this time were those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and had not been vaccinated.
Religious Figures Move
As principal pastor of one of Missouri’s largest churches, Jeremy Johnson has heard the reasons why some of his congregation don’t want to be vaccinated against COVID-19. He wanted them to know that vaccination was not only OK, it was recommended in the Bible.
“I think there’s a big fear effect,” said Johnson, whose church is based in Springfield and has campuses in Nixa and others in Republic.
“The fear of believing in anything other than the scriptures, the fear of believing in anything other than the political party they are more comfortable with. Fear of studying science. We hear ‘I believe in God, not science.’ However, the truth is science and God is not something you should choose.”
Today many churches in southwestern Missouri, such as the Assembly of God which is affiliated with North Point Church, are opening vaccination clinics.
About 200 church leaders have also signed a statement calling on Christians to be vaccinated, and this Wednesday (21/7) announced a continued public service campaign.
According to a 2019 Pew Research Center report, the group that strongly opposes vaccination is mainly Evangelical-Protestants, who make up more than a third of Missouri residents.
Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that workers at the city’s government-run hospitals and health clinics are required to be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 every week.
The rules come as city officials are again battling a spike in cases. The order does not apply to the city’s teachers, police and civil servants, but is part of a focus on increasing vaccination rates amid the deluge of the Delta variant. [em/lt]