By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– While San Bernardino County has experienced dramatic improvements in COVID-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths since the winter spike, doctors here are continuing to treat patients newly suffering from the disease.
“The widespread pandemic has largely receded, but the reality on the ground is that the virus, and the disease, are still very much with us,” said County Health Officer Dr. Michael Sequeira. He noted that most recent patients are relatively young and healthy, and much less likely to suffer a life-threatening condition than older patients. Still, he expressed ample concern about the disease’s continued spread and the emergence of the new Delta variant, which has made its way to the county.
First identified in India, this version of the coronavirus has spread to at least 77 countries and regions and now makes up more than 20 percent of all U.S. cases.
“As of this week, we have isolated 75 cases of the Delta variant in San Bernardino County, which accounts for 3.55% of our COVID-19 isolation,” said Dr. Sequeira. “This specific variant seems to have a predilection for the younger population groups which just emphasizes the need to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”
Studies suggest the Delta variant is between 40 and 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant first identified in the U.K.—which was already 50 percent more transmissible than the original viral strain first detected in Wuhan, China.
“This is the most easily transmissible, contagious version of the virus we’ve seen thus far,” said Dr. Sequeira. “But the good news is that studies by both Pfizer and Moderna show that the immunity conferred by their vaccines is very good against the Delta variant.”
While the new variant is unlikely to cause a nationwide surge comparable to last winter, Dr. Sequeira and other medical experts are worried about local outbreaks in specific communities where vaccination rates remain low. In addition, we could see significant outbreaks in high temperature areas, like most places in San Bernardino County, where people tend to spend a lot of time in air-conditioned buildings.
Dr. Sequeira also worries about the misguided confidence that a healthy person will not likely die from the virus. “Contracting COVID-19 can be a very unpleasant experience, regardless of the ultimate outcome,” he said. “We’re also concerned about potential long-term effects, such as fatigue, lung problems, joint pain, brain fog and loss of smell.”
According to officials at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, most new COVID-19 patients share one factor in common: he or she has neglected to get vaccinated (or is not yet fully vaccinated).
“The evidence is unassailable: the difference between staying healthy and getting sick is a simple, cost-free vaccination shot,” said Interim Public Health Director Andrew Goldfrach. “Vaccine complacency is now our single greatest challenge in getting this disease under control.
“As a result, our primary focus now is on overcoming any lingering hesitancy and getting more people vaccinated as quickly as possible. Much of our attention is on convincing younger people to take a few minutes to get inoculated.”