Almost exactly 100 years ago to date, the world was afflicted with a new influenza virus. With no vaccines and no effective treatment and given the context of World War I, the virus spread, resulting in at least 50 million deaths globally as it raged for two years. There were nearly 675,000 deaths in the US.
A century later, the end of 2019 introduced a new corona virus to the world: the SARS-Cov-2, also known by the disease it causes, COVID-19. By the end of the first quarter of 2020 it had officially become a pandemic. Vaccines were not ready; and no effective treatment was available. There wasn’t a global war (yet), but ideological and partisan divides as well as political leadership crassness and sheer malfeasance carried the same import. The ravages that would be unleashed on the world in just six months, along with extensive collateral economic and social damage, spared no country, no group and no demography.
So it was that by Fall of 2020, the world was facing a second and more dramatic wave of COVID-19, with records being set each new day in numbers of new cases and deaths which by just past mid-October stood at approximately 40 million cumulative cases and over one million dead worldwide:in just approximately six months. The US was leading with over eight million cases and almost a quarter of a million deaths. Then, in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving in the US after the 2020 general elections, political shenanigans were setting new records in lows, COVID-19 was setting new records in highs and the population was wracked with frustration, depression, anxiety and uncertainty along with record unemployment; the trending “bank” was Food Bank, a euphemism for long lines of US citizens waiting for free food-baskets.
In our state, California, in the same time frame, there were over 860,000 cases and nearly 17,000 deaths. Monterey, our County, recorded almost 11,000 cases and 83 deaths.
Vaccine trials are underway on a ramped-up schedule even as politically,rather than scientifically, driven timetable is in play in many countries. Results of Scientific Clinical Research studies thus far have not found an effective medication, although a few interventions are being used with variable effects. Testing is more available in the US, and contact tracing may be improving when the practice is not being overwhelmed.
The most effective and proven measures remain the crux of standard Public Health guideline: mask-wearing, hand-washing, social distancing, isolation and quarantine, as well as avoidance of crowd-attracting activities. As of now, it appears that this guideline is not only not uniformly being followed but is either contested, sabotaged or flouted, while in some quarters, guideline-fatigue is setting in, leading to a rebellion of sorts. This does not augur well for humanity.
It is to be hoped that as a species, we can discipline ourselves to do the right thing that is necessary for our survival during these COVID-19 times as the virus itself has quickly learned to exploit weaknesses in our responses and our behavior for its own survival and propagation. The virus has caused so much disruption which may never be repaired, yet, it is not quite done. We need to take a stand; we need to do the right thing, now and at all times.
Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas (CSVS), a Community Health Clinic with a designation of Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), has been providing primary care for Monterey County residents for nearly 40 years, comprising both ambulatory and hospital care. Our organization’s mission emphasizes our commitment to provide access to the full range of care for our farm-worker community: COVID-19 and related issues are no exception. Presently, CSVS is a testing site for COVID-19 for the entire County; we manage our patients outside of hospitals, although we do not perform contact tracing. CSVS has ongoing partnerships with university-based Research Institutions; new COVID-19 partnerships have already been initiated. We also collaborate with community and care-linkage-type organizations for COVID-19 testing and care.