- Title: As U.S. cases soar, doctors fight vaccine and mask resistance
- Date: 7th August 2021
- Summary: ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, UNITED STATES (AUGUST 3, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. KENNETH REMY, INTERNAL MEDICINE DOCTOR WHO HAS BEEN CARING FOR COVID-19 PATIENTS, SAYING: "At the end of the day, everyone wants society open. We want to see people without wearing masks, and the only way we get there is a bipartisan, moving forward group that says: masks for now, until we can get everyone vaccinated. And then we can at least slow this to the point that the transmission levels are so low that we can go on with our lives."
- Embargoed: 21st August 2021 17:05
- Keywords: COVID-19 Delta variant doctors mask resistance pandemic vaccination resistance
- Location: CHESTERFIELD AND ST. LOUIS MISSOURI; UNKNOWN LOCATION, OREGON; COMMERCE AND GREENVILLE, TEXAS;
- City: CHESTERFIELD AND ST. LOUIS MISSOURI; UNKNOWN LOCATION, OREGON; COMMERCE AND GREENVILLE, TEXAS;
- Country: USA
- Topics: Health/Medicine,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA007EPA6PFR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: As the United States grapples with rising COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths amid a surge of the virus' Delta variant, doctors and public health officials are advocating vaccination and masking, saying the overwhelming number of hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated.
New daily coronavirus cases in the United States have hit a six-month high, with the seven-day average reaching nearly 95,000. That rate is five times higher than it was less than a month ago, Reuters data shows.
While vaccines are not widely available in many other countries, they are in the United States yet just 49% of the U.S. population of 330 million is fully vaccinated.
Seven U.S. states with among the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates - Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi - account for half of the country's new cases and hospitalizations in the last week, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters on Thursday.
In Texas, The Hunt Regional Medical Center in Commerce, northeast of Dallas, closed its emergency room on Friday (August 6) and sent staff to the much larger Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville to help with the surge in COVID-19 patients there.
The hospital in Commerce said it hopes to have its emergency room open by the end of August.
Missouri doctors said their COVID wards are filling up with people who didn't get vaccinated, sometimes because of medical misinformation that they've heard through friends, social media or even fringe medical professionals espousing unscientific information.
"I'm seeing all sorts of misinformation now. I spoke with a gentleman last week. He said 'I don't want to have the vaccine based on religious grounds," said Dr. Steven Brown who sees patients virtually in three states, including Missouri.
The patient, Dr. Brown continued, believed that the COVID vaccines are made from aborted fetuses.
"The data on the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccine, they come from cell lines which have nothing to do with any aborted fetuses," said Dr. Brown, who expressed his frustration that patients would willingly believe unscientific information instead of that from doctors and scientists.
Dr. Kenneth Remy who treats patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, said he sees the same thing, day in and day out.
"Ninety-nine percent of all the individuals who I see who are hospitalized are all unvaccinated. I will say that there is a level of distrust of either the medical profession or certainly of politicians amongst those individuals. I think the most unique thing is that if you watch media coverage, you're led to believe that this is all a phenomenon of republicans or you're led to believe that this is a phenomenon of Democrats, and in between that, there's some sort of fight over personal liberty. What I find most interesting is the dichotomy that I see both populations in the intensive care unit and those are unvaccinated people. That is the common thread," he said.
Remy said it is critical to re-establish trust in mainstream science and doctors and to understand that masks are critical among the vaccinated to prevent transmission and breakthrough infections.
"At the end of the day, everyone wants society open. We want to see people without wearing masks, and the only way we get there is a bipartisan, moving forward group that says: masks for now, until we can get everyone vaccinated. And then we can at least slow this to the point that the transmission levels are so low that we can go on with our lives," he added.
As the Delta variant surges in Oregon, the state health association Oregon Health Authority reported that the rate of new infections for unvaccinated residents is more than six times higher than it is for vaccinated people who, even if infected, are highly unlikely to have a severe case of COVID-19.
"These findings and our experience with COVID-19 here in Oregon, re-affirm that all three available vaccines are extremely effective shields against hospitalization and death from COVID-19," said Oregon Health Authority senior health advisor Dr. Melissa Sutton.
(Production: Arlene Eiras)
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