Dr. Rachael Evans, Chief Medical Officer, gives us a COVID-19 update:
“As we head into spring, HJAHC’s patients and community are grateful to be on the other side of the Omicron variant wave. After an intense spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, our local COVID-19 cases are back down to around 10 cases per 100,000 people, on average. For comparison, this is higher than cases during the first half of summer 2021, but much improved when compared with the 320 cases per 100,000 we saw mid-January.
Like other areas across the country, we were saddened to see most community members who were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 were unvaccinated. Although Omicron cases were common among vaccinated people, vaccination (and boosters, in particular), protected us from severe disease and death. One common misunderstanding is that vaccines like the COVID-19 vaccine prevent infection. Instead, vaccines work to arm our immune systems effectively. When we catch a nasty virus like COVID-19, if we are protected in advance by vaccination, our bodies will have the tools they need to fight it off effectively. We saw this demonstrated clearly again in the recent devastating Omicron wave.
Looking forward, we can see that COVID-19 will be part of our lives for years to come. As a health center, HJAHC will continue to focus our efforts on making sure our patients have access to all the best strategies to prevent severe illness and death. We will emphasize opportunities for vaccination of all our patients and continue to provide testing whenever needed to facilitate safe decision-making for our patients, loved ones and community members. We are proud to be one of only two health center distribution sites for Paxlovid, a very effective oral medication for COVID-19. Treatment with Paxlovid early in COVID-19 infection has been shown to decrease hospitalization and death by 89%, and we are able to provide this to patients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. With these excellent resources and pandemic-fighting tools, we can help our patients and staff be prepared for the next wave or variant. We look forward to sunshine and summer and good health for our community!”