Life and death

To the editor:

In our community, family and friends makes up a large part of our meaning of life. For some, religion and/or politics are strong in their lives. Yet now, some of these strong values are contributing to greater deaths in our area.

Vaccines work. Period. Not debatable. According to the CDC, unvaccinated people have an 11.3 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19. People are still dying at an annual rate of 11,000 in New York state and over 380,000 in the country. We are NOT out of the woods yet.

Closer to home, in Franklin and Essex counties, it took 17 months to have 40 fatalities. In less than three months, we have suffered another 22 COVID-19 deaths.

In the Tri-Lakes area, it took 17 months for the first 41 hospitalizations, three months for the next 25 COVID hospitalizations. Our local hospitals have few ICU beds available. They are getting overwhelmed. The major “spread vector” is children, with several of them now hospitalized and others at risk.

There is a strong correlation between vaccination rates and percent positive COVID tests. In our seven county North Country region, the graph of this data tells the story. If we increased completed vaccinations by 10%, we would reduce the positive rate by almost 2%.

We are lucky up here in the North Country. Our fatality rate of sick people is half that of the state and national rates. And Franklin and Hamilton counties are half the regional rate. Our deaths per 100,000 population are 40% of the state and national rates. Yet still our family and friends are dying at five times the rate of the earlier 17 months of COVID.

People of my generation have scars on our arms from the smallpox vaccination. It worked. I can also remember being in line to get the polio vaccine as a child. It worked. There are many diseases, such as Diphtheria, Flu, Measles, Mumps, Pertussis, Tetanus, etc. for which we are routinely vaccinated and from which we no longer suffer. Let’s add COVID to that list.

From the outset of this global pandemic, the blame, the preventative actions, and the response to science-based recommendations have been clouded by politics. Ignore the politics and get vaccinated. For yourself, for your family and friends, for the immune compromised people in our villages, towns and counties.


Richard Shapiro

Saranac Lake


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