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Letters, Aug. 11

To my unvaccinated friends

You have the right to go into the back country on an isolated road and drive recklessly. But if you try that on Central Avenue with its posted speed limits and caution signs, you’ll get arrested because you put other people at risk.

What does reckless driving have to do with vaccines, you say?

COVID has become an epidemic of the unvaccinated and folks like you are the overwhelming reason for continued hospitalizations, deaths and community spread. I have a 0.001% chance of dying of COVID because I’m vaccinated. You are at considerably more risk of getting seriously ill and dying than I.

So now, because we haven’t vaccinated enough of you to stop community spread, I’m wearing a mask again indoors to protect you, because recent data show even the vaccinated can have mild infection or transmit the virus. It’s a minimal inconvenience and my civic duty.

Your civic duty is to get vaccinated (and mask up) so we can protect all of us and prevent the emergence of even more serious variants and put this pandemic behind us. Covid vaccination is not a question of individual liberty, it is a question of individual responsibility.

Bruce Van Zee, M.D.

Medford

Covid hospitalization

In mid-May, the entire Asante three-hospital system (Ashland, Rogue Regional, Three Rivers) had a mere seven COVID patients. On Aug 9, there were 107.

Hospitals, to run efficiently, require a reasonably stable inflow and outflow. This balance has been drastically altered by COVID patients, who remain among the sickest and most resource-intensive of all patients.

This is an existential threat to the medical needs of our community!

Patients awaiting elective surgeries are postponed indefinitely. We scramble to find beds for urgent and emergent cases on a minute-by-minute basis, and often none are available.

Hallways fill with gurneys of sick patients. Delays are inevitable — and delays are dangerous! Our staff (nurses, doctors and support staff) are exhausted and exposed hourly to a disabling and potentially fatal virus which honors no political or religious boundaries, and which is now targeting younger and previously healthier individuals.

Greater than 90% of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. While no solution is absolute, masks and vaccinations can significantly block the need for hospitalization and death, and enable an earlier return to “normal” not only in the hospital, but in the community as well.

Brian W. Gross, M.D.

Medford