LMAS District Health Department is issuing this Public Health Warning as COVID cases are rising rapidly, and local hospitals along with public health are facing capacity limits in managing this ongoing surge. We need a majority of residents following basic mitigation protocols such as wearing masks and getting vaccinated. The numbers below tell the urgency of the current situation in our counties.
During the first 16 months of the COVID pandemic – March 2020 through July 2021 – the LMAS counties added 2300 COVID cases and 20 deaths. In the last four months – August 2021 to December 1, 2021 – the LMAS counties have added 2139 cases and 15 deaths. Forty-eight percent of all cases during the pandemic and 43% of deaths have occurred in just four months; what changed is the arrival of the delta variant in mid to late summer in the region.
Of the 2139 cases since August 1st, 85% have been unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Of the 15 deaths in this time period, 13 were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
We cannot take the Delta Variant of the COVID virus lightly. Everyone age 5 and up is eligible to be vaccinated. Overall, the LMAS counties are only 61% fully vaccinated, with the lowest vaccination completion rates in ages 12-19 (40%), and 49% of ages 20-39. We have been advised by one of our local hospitals that they are reaching bed capacity with COVID patients and there is a lack of hospitals to transfer more critically ill patients to.
In this Public Health Warning, LMAS District Health Department advises the following:
1. If you haven’t been vaccinated or gotten your booster, please do so.
2. Wear a mask in indoor public or other crowded spaces. Face masks are very effective at reducing risk of infection.
3. Get tested for COVID if you don’t feel well or believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID.
4. If you test positive or have a confirmed exposure, ask your medical care provider about receiving monoclonal antibody treatments. These treatments greatly reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization.
5. Stay home when sick except to seek medical care.
These are the most basic of public health mitigation strategies. For your own health, your communities, and for local health care, please do these small things. We must work together.
Visit LMASDHD.org to find vaccination and testing opportunities in your area.