Patience saves lives
Vaccinations have started, but we are not yet out of the woods. It is estimated that we need 70-80% of the population to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. For New York state, that would be about 14 million people. So far, NYS has vaccinated about 500,000. The state’s current federal allotment is 300,000 per week. At that rate we may vaccinate enough people by Thanksgiving. Hopefully, there will be more doses produced and released so that we can get there sooner. To see if you are currently eligible to receive the vaccine and, if so, to make an appointment, go to https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/Public/prescreener or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
Franklin County expects to take until the end of April to vaccinate phase-1B-eligible individuals: 75 years and older, front-line essential workers, teachers, public safety, transit, high risk medical conditions and their adult caregivers.
In the meantime, stay vigilant: Wear your masks, socially distance from others, and wash your hands frequently.
We have had 118 deaths in the North Country from COVID-19, up 15 in the past week. The good news is that in the last week, our North Country region has gone from 9% positive to 7.8% positive for a seven-day average. This is still higher than the overall state level of 6.7% positive.
The spread is coming from small group gatherings, through family and friends, parties, sports leagues and workplaces. Infected people without symptoms are major factors.
Get tested. For an appointment, call Adirondack Health at 518-897-2462.
In the past week we have seen a slight decline in most counties from our region. Time will tell if this trend continues or not. We choose whether to follow the recommended protocols or to ignore them.
Each of us can help keep ourselves and others safe: Diligently wear masks, and always practice proper social distancing. The North Country region has 108 people hospitalized (99 average for the week) and 17 in intensive care units due (18 average for the week) due to COVID-19. The region ICU bed availability continues to drop. We only have 34% of our ICU beds available, down from 50% just two weeks ago.
One of every 17 people tested this past week in Franklin and Essex counties was positive. One out of every 13 people tested in the region was positive. Whether walking downtown or shopping at the grocery store, you will likely encounter someone who is positive but does not yet know it. Assume that anyone you interact with is potentially contagious, and always wear your mask when outside your home. Distance yourself from others even when outside and wearing a mask. Avoid gatherings of people, even small social get-togethers.
Rich Shapiro lives in Saranac Lake and is a member of the village Board of Trustees.