Over the last week, we have received good reason to be hopeful about COVID-19 in 2021. Both Pfizer and Moderna shared preliminary trial data that their vaccines have shown very high efficacy rates. This is excellent news – a rare bright spot in this year we have had. I think we all have good reason to believe our state of affairs will be much, much better by this time next year. To have a vaccine available in just over a year from the time this novel virus was identified will truly be an amazing feat of modern science.
But I write today to remind you that COVID-19 in South Dakota is currently very bad. The things we feared back in the spring – having too many sick patients than our ICUs and hospitals can safely care for – seem to be very near. And the huge numbers of new infections reported in the last 2 weeks are yet to manifest in our numbers for hospitalizations and deaths.
We need your help, and we need it now. With recent updates on vaccines, hope is on the horizon, but we can expect it to be another four to six months before a vaccine supply reaches the masses. In the meantime, if we don’t make a change in our trend of infection rates, we could stand to lose a lot more South Dakotans, and further to put a strain on our nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians and other hospital workers. And haven’t we asked enough of them this year?
Let’s reimplement the plan to stay home unless necessary. Let’s wear our masks when we do need to be out. Let’s find ways to support our local businesses safely during this crucial time. And let’s reinvigorate our sense of common purpose to get through this. Please think hard about how your family will celebrate the holidays this year: Can you make your circle a little smaller? Are there some traditions that can wait until 2021?
Remember that this sneaky virus can spread amongst people who have no symptoms. Rates in our communities are so high right now, we should assume that everyone is a potential carrier and act accordingly. Most importantly, we should be encouraged that we won’t have to do this forever. Help is coming, so stay strong!