London, 1665. The city was gripped in an epidemic of bubonic plague: the “Black Death”. The skin of victims turned black and lymph nodes grew swollen and painful. Death usually followed a few days later.
To prevent the disease from spreading, a victim was locked in their house, along with their entire family. A red cross was painted on the door of the home, along with these words:
“Lord Have Mercy Upon Us.”
Last week, hospital staff at Dallas’ enormous Parkland Hospital watched with dread as red doors went up, marking “COVID-only” spaces. The red doors first went up in March 2020 and came down in March 2021.
In Texas and in other areas of the country with low vaccination rates, Delta variant-driven COVID infections are overwhelming emergency rooms and packing ICUs.
Lord have mercy on us.
Vaccination is no longer seen as a common responsibility of all in order to protect our families and our communities.
Love for neighbor is no longer the goal. Individual rights trump all.
Jared Byas, author of Love Matters More, put it this way:
“I’m learning that “Freedom” in the wrong hands devolves into ‘You’re not the boss of me’ playground immaturity. Without love at the center, freedom becomes selfish entitlement. Paul makes a lot more sense to me now.”
This week, it hit home for me – right into the heart of my family.
My mom suffers from a rare form of dementia and reaching a crisis point, my family made the difficult decision to move her into a memory care facility.
She has been hospitalized for more than a week and the plan is for her to be dismissed soon, directly into care. She is scared and confused and has no idea what is happening.
But during this critical time of adjusting to the care home, she will have limited contact with her family. My dad can only see her two hours a day and cannot eat any meals with her.
Rising COVID positivity rates automatically trigger restrictions for long-term care centers in Texas. And before she even enters care, family presence in her hospital room is restricted.
Packed hospitals, exhausted healthcare workers, and scared dementia patients are paying the price for vaccine-refusal.
Lord have mercy.
What do we know at this point about the three vaccines available in the United States?
Vaccines do not prevent you from harboring the virus. Vaccinated people can pass the virus to others for about six days, but then their vaccine-primed immune responses kick in and stop the spread.
Vaccinated people have a 59% reduced risk of having symptoms if they are infected.
But here is the really big deal: while vaccinated people might get infected and might have symptoms, what vaccinated people are NOT experiencing is severe disease and death. This, according to epidemiologists, is nothing short of miraculous.
The vaccine keeps you out of the ICU.
The vaccine keeps you off a ventilator.
The vaccine keeps you from months and months and maybe more of long-COVID, the feeling that you’re wrapped in lead and might cry if you have to do ANYTHING. As Baylor medical professor Dr. Peter Hortez put it:
“COVID does so much more than kill.”
And this is important: a vaccinated population prevents the evolution of new variants.
Mutations (variants) can only arise in warm, human-sized petri dishes. The more a virus is transmitted, the more it has opportunity to mutate. Right now, 73% of counties in the country are in a state of “high transmission”.
We can stop this.
Lord have mercy.