The current COVID-19 surge powered by the delta variant is hitting the 18 to 49 year age group in the Manteca-Ripon-Lathrop area hard.
Doctors Hospital of Manteca is seeing an increase of COVID-19 patients approaching the peak reached in January.
“What we are seeing locally mirrors what is happening elsewhere,” Dr. Murali Naidu, who serves as Doctors Hospital at CEO, said Friday.
“Those between 18 and 49 are much more likely to be patients (due to the current surge),” Naidu noted.
Naidu attributed that to the high vaccination rate among those over 50.
And while there is a serious upswing in hospitalizations, the death rate hasn’t kept pace with the surge.
Naidu credits that to a better understanding of how to treat COVID patients compared to 17 months ago, the advent of medicine to treat the coronavirus, vaccinations, and the fact patient census for the most part is not dominated by the elderly thanks to the vast majority in the age group being vaccinated.
Those factors — along with younger adults as a group generally being in better health — has also reduced the length of hospital stays.
Since mid-March 2020 there have been 145 deaths in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon.
There is also an upswing in children contracting COVID. In the last seven days there have been 72,000 cases reported among youth nationwide compared to 39,000 in the previous seven-day period.
Naidu said Doctors Hospital expects its 500 plus workforce to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30 unless there is a medical or religious reason that prevents them from doing so.
“If they are not fully vaccinated, they will not work,” Naidu said.
The mandate issued by the state applies to all heath care workers in California.
Naidu pointed out fully vaccinated people have a significantly better chance of not becoming sick from COVID. Research puts that number higher than 90 percent of the vaccinated that test positive do not get ill or only have mild symptoms.
That research underscores the reality that those fully vaccinated can carry the coronavirus, not be ill, and still spread it to others.
It is why Naidu advises everyone — fully vaccinated or unvaccinated – to wear masks when they are around others who are not in their household.
There is also a need to keep in mind there is no vaccine available for younger children who are now contracting COVID in greater numbers than previously.
Naidu noted that the 1918 flu pandemic had multiple surges and was a significant killer for years.
“The behavior lingered,” Naidu said of photos that show people in some areas of the country still wearing masks near the end of the 1920s.
The doctor pointed out there are advantages in medical technology today that Americans and others didn’t enjoy a century ago during the flu pandemic. Topping that list are vaccines.
Masks that are clean and not damp — wet facial coverings are akin to trying to breathe through a sponge — are an effective way to slow the spread. That is needed to reduce the hosts various variants can use to keep multiplying.
Naidu pointed to advisories from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control that emphasize it is safe for those over 2 years of age to wear masks.
And even if someone is dismissive of the mask advice, Naidu pointed out there are personal economic considerations they need to weigh as well.
“I can’t emphasis masks enough,” Naidu said. “It is a better alternative than closing down (the economy) again.”
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