Worst county for COVID in America is in New Jersey


Barnegat Light, NJ – Karsten Moran/The New York Times

Ocean County, in central New Jersey, is a mixture of beach towns like Barnegat Light and exurban towns like Toms River and Lakewood. Household income in the county exceeds the U.S. average.

Yet Ocean County is among the least vaccinated places in the Northeast. Only 53% of residents have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (or one dose of Johnson & Johnson). Only 26% have received a booster shot.

The large number of unvaccinated residents in Ocean County has led to a horrific amount of COVID illness and death. Nearly 1 out of every 200 residents has died from the virus. That is worse than the toll in Mississippi, the U.S. state with the largest amount of COVID death per capita, and worse than in any country except for Peru.

What explains the vaccine skepticism in Ocean County? Politics, above all. The county is heavily Republican. Donald Trump won it by almost 30 percentage points in 2020, and many Republicans — including those who are older than 65 and vulnerable to severe COVID illness — are skeptical of the vaccines…

Only after the vaccines became widely available, in early 2021 — and liberals were much more willing to get shots than conservatives — did COVID become a disproportionately Republican illness. By the summer of 2021, the gap was soaring.

The toll has been even worse in counties where Trump won by a landslide than in counties that he won narrowly.

It is a tragedy — and preventable.

The unvaccinated cherish their freedom to harm others.  How can we ever forgive them?

Opinion from the TORONTO STAR

Will we ever forgive the deliberately unvaccinated for having helped spread a disease that killed and disabled so many, devastating the economy, leaving many of us jobless and wretched?…

And will your children forgive you? The always humane Financial Times columnist Simon Kuper wrote about “disenfranchised grief,” a psychological term to describe the feelings of mourners who keep quiet about their suffering because the cause of death is stigmatized. Can a little girl tell people that her unvaccinated dad died of COVID-19?

For each unvaccinated American death, Kuper says, about nine people lose a grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse or child. But a child’s suffering is greatest. Children come first with all of us. Don’t they?…

It was Premier Doug Ford’s responsibility to get everyone vaccinated, N95-masked, and kept safe in schools, on transit, and in the cities and towns of Ontario. He didn’t do it…

But Ford will not punish the unvaccinated, the dim, the cruel, the easily led, the mean-eyed people who cherish the freedom to harm others. Does he consider them his base? If so, who speaks for the rest of us?

Heather Mallick is a Toronto-based columnist covering current affairs for the Star

Comparison charts between vaccinated and not…and who’s in hospital

As the coronavirus continues to surge across the United States, hospitals are again filling up with ill COVID-19 patients. And the vast majority of those patients are unvaccinated, as two new charts help make exceedingly clear.

One of those charts shows that from January 24 to July 24, vaccinated individuals were hospitalized with COVID-19 at a much lower cumulative rate than unvaccinated individuals. And the difference in rates between the two groups has only grown over time. By late July, a total of about 26 adults per 100,000 vaccinated people had been hospitalized for COVID-19. That’s compared with about 431 hospitalized people for every 100,000 unvaccinated individuals — a rate roughly 17 times as high as for those who were vaccinated. The data come from 13 states, including California, Georgia and Utah…

The accumulation of hospitalizations in each group over time, which that first chart shows, illustrates the risk of developing severe COVID-19 overall. And its message is clear: If you’re vaccinated during this pandemic, your risk of hospitalization is much, much lower than if you’re not vaccinated. The weekly rate, on the other hand, is a bit like the speedometer on a car — providing a glimpse of what’s happening week by week as the coronavirus spreads. Its message is also clear: The risk of a vaccinated person becoming hospitalized remains low at any given time, while the risk for unvaccinated people can fluctuate, probably as a result of community transmission.

I don’t mind if you choose to increase your own chance of dying. It’s stupid; but, no surprise. I can’t countenance the number of family and friends or complete strangers you may infect along the way. That’s criminal.

There’s a reason it’s called Public Health

Physicians and other healthcare workers who refuse influenza immunization at 535-bed Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia can’t work in patient care.

“If you don’t want to get the vaccine, you have two weeks of unpaid leave to think about it, and if you still don’t want to get it, you’re fired,” said Paul Offit, MD, CHOP’s Chief of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center.

There’s no provision to let workers wear a mask instead, like many healthcare facilities allow, because he said, “masks aren’t particularly effective…”

As healthcare organizations rush to comply with new federal immunization reporting requirements for their workers, many infection control experts are questioning the mask option, saying it’s an inefficient, ineffective, and dehumanizing alternative to immunization, one that gives workers an excuse not to get their annual flu vaccines.

Mask mandates are “a silly half-way measure that really doesn’t serve any useful purpose other than to identify a person as a healthcare worker who is choosing not to get vaccinated — selfishly,” Offit said. “You might as well wear a scarlet letter for all the good it does…”

The national average for vaccine refusal by hospital workers is 18%, and some hospitals report they have reduced the refusal rate to 10%, but other hospitals’ have lagged…

Bonnie Castillo, National Nurses United said…”If we in the healthcare and science communities are spreading bogus science on one hand, how do we expect to be credible on any other topic of infectious disease, or worker and patient protection? You have to be consistent.”

For Offit, a focus on getting all healthcare workers immunized is really the only solution to keeping patients safe from infection. One must remember that patients’ lives are at stake, he said…

Several years ago, a child with cancer “came into this hospital for care, but caught the influenza virus in this hospital and died from it,” he said. “She no doubt caught it from us.”

If you want a job in a science-based facility, it’s perfectly reasonable to require that you perform your work up to the standards of the science involved. If you can’t agree to that, then it’s your responsibility to find employment where your beliefs fit.

The same responsibility should apply to the facility. As Dr. Offit makes clear. You ain’t about to treat burns by spitting on them and rubbing in soot…because your patient’s shaman said that’s the appropriate traditional treatment.

Yes, I’ve been in a hospital where that question had to be answered.