Editorial: Sick and tired of COVID, but we must do our part

Everyone is fatigued by COVID. We’re tired of it, and far too many of us are sick, and tired of it.

Seemingly every day brings news that we have the most cases ever — again. Columbus Regional Hospital is bursting at the seams with more patients than it can sustainably handle.

Mercifully, the omicron variant that’s now dominant and spreading like wildfire appears to be not as deadly or life-changing as the delta variant was. And probably because of our fatigue, we have grown numb to the numbers:

n More than 19,000 Hoosiers have died, including 208 in Bartholomew County, as of Jan. 11.

n More than 1.3 million Hoosiers have tested positive, including more than 15,900 in Bartholomew County.

n 3,382 Hoosiers were hospitalized due to COVID on Jan. 8, nearly equaling the highest inpatient total of any day during the pandemic.

n Only about 12% of the state’s 2,072 intensive care unit beds were available as of Jan. 11. Critically ill COVID patients were in approximately 765 of those beds.

We all long for this to be over. And the truth is, we all, every one of us, can help make that happen. The best way forward, as has been stated repeatedly, is to get vaccinated. And if you’ve been vaccinated, get a booster shot. Wear a mask in public places and practice social distancing to prevent spread.

Columbus Regional Hospital recently begged community members to take these simple precautions in a message to the community published on this page on Dec. 30. The situation has not improved. This part of CRH’s message bears repeating:

“The collective strain being placed on the healthcare systems and medical professionals in our area has immediate and distressing implications to medical services and hospital access to all the patients and communities we serve. At this critical time, every bed counts. For example, the space and crucial resources needed for victims of unavoidable medical emergencies or accidents is in jeopardy, being consumed, in part, by people being hospitalized by a largely avoidable and preventable disease — COVID-19. The ability for a patient to receive a much-anticipated surgery or procedure is once again at risk because clinical staff and space need to be reallocated. Our frontline staff, providers and physicians who have been at the helm of this crisis for two years are reaching a breaking point.”

Since then, CRH has had to turn its public corridors into makeshift hospital space. To make matters worse, the local hospital reported last week it had seen an “alarming jump” in the number of health care workers who are out sick with COVID or were caring for family members who tested positive.

We’re as tired of all of the precautions as everyone is. But that doesn’t mean we just give up.

We also need to again confront the ugly assaults from some quarters on the validity of vaccines. The facts are indisputable. People who are vaccinated and boosted are far less likely to become seriously ill or die from COVID. Anyone telling you otherwise is wrong. They know better, or after all this time, they should.

Please, please, help our community make COVID just a bitter memory. Your best shot is to get vaccinated and, if vaccinated, to get boosted. Find how and where you can get vaccinated or boosted at no cost at ourshot.in.gov.