|RICHMOND—The COVID case numbers are a reason for concern, but not a reason for panic. It’s important to understand why.
We have all studied the “number of cases” for many months now, but this data point means something different today, compared to this time last year.
One year ago, vaccines had just become available, so nearly no one had gotten a shot. Today, more than 14 million shots have been given in Virginia. Only nine states have given more shots, and those states are all larger than Virginia. That’s good news, and it’s thanks to a lot of hard work by Virginians.
Vaccinations are keeping people safe, even as the omicron variant spreads. Data from around the world show that if people have gotten vaccinated, and then get COVID, then symptoms are likely to be minor. That’s how the vaccines are designed to work, and it’s more good news.
As the virus becomes endemic, it’s now time to study not only the number of cases, but also the severity of symptoms and the number of people going to the hospital.
The data are clear: Nearly everyone going to the hospital with COVID is unvaccinated. This is entirely avoidable, if everyone gets their shots.
This is really important, because people working in hospitals are exhausted—nurses, doctors, and everyone. They have worked tirelessly for months to care for people who have gotten sick. Please go to the hospital only if you believe you really need to. It’s not fair to put even more pressure on hospital workers to care for people whose sickness is avoidable.
Everyone can take easy steps to help.
- It’s a good idea to stay away from people who have not gotten their shots.
- It’s a good idea to wear a mask when you’re around other people, especially if you don’t know whether they have been vaccinated.
- If you have not gotten a booster shot, now is the time to do it. Shots are widely available at pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and local health departments all across Virginia.
- If you have children age five and above, now is the time to get them vaccinated. This will make it easier and safer for them to go back to school.
- If you have chosen not to get your shots, you need to wear a mask and practice social distancing—to protect yourself and other people.
- If you believe you need a test, please know that PCR tests are widely available, and more rapid antigen test kits are becoming available every day. You can click here to find testing sites. The federal government is in the process of making more than 500 million free at-home tests available. It’s important to understand that supplies of rapid antigen tests are limited across the country, so everyone needs to use good judgment when seeking these.