Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 12/24/2020 --Relief and hope is in sight. COVID-19 vaccines are here and starting to be administered. Experts at Intermountain Healthcare say it will still be a few more months before herd immunity begins to take effect.
"Even with the vaccine, we are not anticipating dramatic changes in the next few months," said Lewis Taub, MD, a pulmonologist and ICU intensivist at Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, UT. "We still need to protect each other and slow the spread. I feel a responsibility to portray the devastating affects of this virus. It is real. And everyone is susceptible. Wearing a mask when in public and indoors is the most beneficial to others and shows respect and civic duty."
Dr. Taub explained that the coronavirus is spreading faster than ever before; now is not the time to let up on preventative efforts such as wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding gatherings, washing hands frequently, and staying home when sick.
"This is a particularly hard time of year," said Dr. Taub. "No one wants to be alone. But if a family member ends up with COVID and in the ICU, they will be all alone with no visitors. We've had COVID patients in the ICU for three to four weeks who are completely alone. We've had patients, who I thought were recovering, die. It has literally brought me to tears. It's something to think about when making holiday plans to visit parents and grandparents."
Older adults face the greatest risk for severe illness or death from the coronavirus. For people over the age of 70 who contract coronavirus, the chance of surviving is less than 50%. People of all age groups with underlying health conditions are also at higher risk. Even if individuals are not at high risk or vulnerable, they probably are in close contact with someone who is.
"As a critical care doctor," Dr. Taub said, "I'm often the 'doctor of last regrets' as patients and their families talk to me. Lately I've been hearing a lot of regrets about visiting loved ones in their homes and of not taking this virus and preventative measures more seriously."
Scientists don't know everything they would like to know about COVID-19, but they do know the virus is respiratory and people mainly get infected by breathing it in. Dr. Taub said that if people can avoid being close to other people who might be exhaling viral particles, they won't get sick. Research continues to suggest wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home continue to be the best ways to not contract the virus. "Scientific knowledge gives us power to protect ourselves and those we love."
"No one wants this to potentially be a loved one's last holiday season," said Dr. Taub. "In order to prevent heartbreaking and unnecessary deaths over the next three to six months and ensure we have many more holidays with those we hold most dear, we need to stay the course, wear masks and social distance. Doing so shows concern and respect for others."
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see intermountainhealthcare.org