Jan. 20—In the past week, two of our four counties hit a grim milestone. Otsego and Chenango counties each reported its 100th resident had died of COVID.
With Delaware's toll at 89 and Schoharie's at 32, that makes 321 people who are no longer with us because of the coronavirus pandemic that hit our area less than two years ago.
In the beginning there wasn't much we could do except wear masks, use proper hygiene and stay apart. As time went on, we found methods and medicines to help treat those who contracted the disease, but the big breakthrough was vaccinations.
Unfortunately, too many people still don't see a reason to get the vaccine, some because they seem to think the word "less" means "not."
Omicron is a less severe variant than previous ones. But it doesn't mean it isn't deadly. Experts warned earlier this week that before the omicron wave ends, expected to be in mid-March, the United State could see an additional 50,000 to 300,000 deaths from COVID. Statistically it may be less deadly, but the sheer volume of people contracting COVID means the number of deaths could be extreme.
Those who refuse the vaccines, claim they don't prevent COVID infection. No vaccine is 100% effective and guarantees prevention of infection. The COVID vaccines were most effective against early versions of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, with waning effectiveness against newer variants. But recent studies have shown that, with boosters, vaccines are 70% effective against omicron.
Yes, they are less effective, but 70% is much better than 0%.
The disease is still spreading more widely among unvaccinated people than those who have been vaccinated. And hospitalization and death rates are still much higher among the unvaccinated.
Some are also saying the use of masks aren't needed because they aren't effective.
Masks do help prevent the spread of COVID. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that loosely woven cloth masks are less effective than other forms of face coverings, it doesn't say they offer no protection.
"Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection," the CDC said.
It's only common sense that something over your mouth and nose is going to stop some of the particulates entering the air as you sneeze, cough or even speak.
When it comes to cloth masks, some protection is better than none. If you can get surgical masks or KN95s, even better.
COVID isn't a cold. It isn't a flu. COVID is a highly contagious, potentially deadly disease that has left the families and friends of 321 residents of our area without their loved ones.
That includes the family of Adam David Friedman, 38, of Unadilla, who died earlier this year from COVID pneumonia. "The family feels compelled to share that this tragic loss may have been prevented if he had been vaccinated against COVID," his obituary read.
Take it from a family that knows, and do everything you can to help prevent your family from going through the same heartache.