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“Don’t confuse progress with victory”: Doctor warns of complacency as COVID numbers decline

Despite falling new cases, only five ICU beds are available in the Brazos Valley as of Tuesday
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 11:12 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are declining throughout the Brazos Valley, but doctors are warning that in spite of the good news, this is no time to get complacent.

Despite the fact new positive cases are falling, the Brazos Valley is still seeing new COVID patients admitted into the region’s hospitals almost every day. CapRock Health System Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lon Young says just because the community is in a better place, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in a good place.

“We need to be careful that we don’t confuse progress with victory,” Young said.

COVID-19 cases in the Brazos Valley may be falling, but hospitals are still dealing with almost as much as they can handle. There are currently 40 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients in our region’s hospitals. Four were admitted in the last 24 hours, while 12 are on ventilators in ICU beds. Only five ICU beds are available in the entire region.

“I think it is important to remind ourselves that the Delta variant is still amongst us, and is still very serious and deadly,” Young said. “Just because numbers are improved doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who are still susceptible and going to suffer and die.”

Young says there have been several times throughout the pandemic where people have grown tired of talking or thinking about the virus, allowing our attention to get distracted. While he says this is part of human nature, it made people less cautious and caused things to worsen at times.

Young says the Brazos Valley sits somewhere in the mid-range regarding the amount of virus that’s circulating throughout the community. He says because not enough people have gotten vaccinated to reach herd immunity locally, there remains a lot of fuel that could easily ignite to cause a fifth surge.

“If you would’ve asked me that question three weeks ago, I would not have been able to emphasize strongly enough how dangerous the situation was,” Young said. “But in just the past three or four weeks, we’ve seen the numbers move from extreme to more of a moderate level, but certainly not a good level.”

With holiday gatherings and colder weather a matter of weeks away, Young says people need to be cautious to prevent another spike.

“Try not to congregate indoors around people that aren’t vaccinated in particular, and try not to do so without proper protections of masks and distancing,” Young said. “Those are the things that we know work. As you go back and look at the trends in the graphs of the case loads, you can specifically point to situations where we, as a community, did or did not follow these recommendations, and you can see the consequences of that.”

Young says something to keep in mind about the season that’s approaching is the fact that every single person who has suffered from or died of COVID caught it from another person, especially as we gather with the people we care about most.

“When we’re thinking about gathering, it’s a time to really think about how we don’t want to be the ones who are careless and bring this deadly disease into a family gathering, and have to deal with that feeling of being the one who spread it to others,” Young said.

The best action anyone can take to keep themselves and those around them protected is to get vaccinated, Young says.

“I’m actually astonished how safe this vaccine is,” Young said. “This has turned out to be easily the safest vaccine that I’m aware of in the history of humanity. Therefore, there’s really no downside that we’re aware of after all this time and all these millions and millions of doses.”

Schools in the area are showing encouraging signs from a case count perspective as well. According to school dashboards, Texas A&M’s positivity rate has been on the decline over the last four weeks, and both Bryan and College Station ISDs each have fewer than 20 active cases.

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