Today I had to reschedule an established patient, who had just gone back to school. Outside the door, on the front porch – standing 6′ back on our distancing dots – they responsibly told me that they had been informed that they were exposed 5 and 1/2 days ago to someone who tested Covid-19 positive. My patient had been tested and was waiting for results which were dragging. In the month since the mask mandate was “rolled back”, there has been a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations in Oregon. Some hospitals in southern Oregon are full. Others are near full. Blue Heron Chiropractic is still operating at full pandemic protocols, requiring masks, questionnaires, contact tracing, and with our full set of re-sterilization procedures. We applaud this patient’s accountability; we want to be delivering chiropractic safe from the Covid-19 Delta Variant. We all want to stay safe and keep our loved ones safe.
We rescheduled the visit. These days “the science” supports the idea that the Delta Variant makes the incubation period of Covid 19 between 4 and 6 days; he was at 5.5 and there were test results out there – somewhere. The Delta Variant can often be asymptomatic (no symptoms) or pre-symptomatic (on the way but not yet symptomatic). There would be no way to know until we had this patient’s results. We had to operate out of an abundance of caution in order to protect our clinic community.
This patient, who I know very well, is very diligent. They had been double vaccinated as of mid 2021, and so if they were a part of the 1% of double vaccinated cases that do develop a “Breakthrough Infection”, it would likely be a Delta variant. Since 88% of new Covid-19 infections in Oregon are Delta variant, it’s likely that this was a Delta case, although, of course, not all “positives” are tested or set up to report the variant generation of the virus. According to the CDC, even people with “breakthrough cases” carry tremendous amounts of virus in their nose and throat, and, according to preliminary reports, can spread the virus to others whether or not they have symptoms.
And yet, with all the precautions being taken – masks, handwashing, distancing, air filters – is it likely there would be a transmission? Regardless whose opinion you follow, the stakes are just too great to gamble; the risks spread out in multiple directions – too many to account for.
The CDC has labeled Delta “a variant of concern,” using a designation also given to the Alpha strain that first appeared in Great Britain, the Beta strain that first surfaced in South Africa, and the Gamma variant strain identified in Brazil. (The new naming conventions for the variants were established by the WHO as an alternative to numerical names.) “It’s actually quite dramatic how the growth rate will change,” says Dr. F. Perry Wilson, a Yale Medicine epidemiologist, commenting on Delta’s spread in the U.S. in June. Delta was spreading 50% faster than Alpha, which was 50% more contagious than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, he says.
All realities suggest that we should remain diligent, alert, and cautious. In states like Florida and Texas, where politicians promote philosophies and politics, over science, case presentations and death rates have soared from a seven day average death rate of 50 on May 1st to 141 the week of August 12th. That is 300%.
Meanwhile, fake Covid-19 Vaccination Cards worry officials, parents and school administrators. In April, a bipartisan coalition of 47 state attorneys general sent a letter to the CEOs of Twitter, Shopify and eBay to take down ads or links selling the bogus cards. Hoever, a recent advertisement on the website Buy Real Fake Passport reveals vendors are producing fake vaccination cards by the thousands, if not tens of thousands, based on the demand. Places to buy the documents are still popping up on messaging apps, chat forums and the Dark Web. The unauthorized use of the seal of an official government agency such as HHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on such a false card is a federal crime that carries a possible fine and a maximum of five years in prison; this is not enough to deter counterfeiters. It is not, however, currently a crime to possess a fake card.
Simultaneously, many states are introducing and passing bills barring educational institutions from mandating COVID-19 vaccines in the first place, citing infringement on individual rights or liberties as the main concern. But according to a statement released by the American College Health Association and other educational organizations, these restrictions impede on universities’ and other organizations’ abilities to operate fully and safely.
“The science of good public health has gotten lost in some of the decisions that have been made in some places,” said Dr. Sarah Van Orman, the chief health officer at the University of Southern California and COVID-19 task force member for the American College Health Association. “This also has not always been held up by our political leaders.”
And still, the vaccine companies themselves will not vouch for the efficacy of the vaccine after 8 months time. Double-Vax folks that received shots in January or February are coming up on a reckoning date as of this September or October. Will a booster be available to them? Will it be covered by their insurance? What’s next after this booster? We do not at this time have enough science to support solid answers.
In the meantime, as a physician with a mind towards Public Health, my recommendation and my personal philosophy is to remain vigilant and diligent. Basically, we insist on everyone being fully transparent and accountable. We talk frankly and openly and anyone in concern or awaiting test results is rescheduled. We help patients identify high vulnerabilities in their social circles. It’s our goal to raise awareness – we believe that the end of this pandemic will come as a result of the vaccines.
In the clinic – all things considered – we intend to treat you safely. You will know our level of diligence immediately when we interview you on the phone. We require all persons to wear masks and we run our medical grade HEPA-13 air filters at all times. When the doctor works closely or face-to-face, he wears a drop down plastic shield. We have hand sanitization stations on all the corners and the front porch, and we completely re-sanitize with state-of-the-art disinfectants between each patient. We meet and greet outside on the covered front porch. Our four Medify-40 filters are set up to actually filter 3360 sf every 30 minutes, which is 300% more filtration than our clinic ground floor of 1120 sf actually requires. This kind of thinking makes us feel safe at offering you a responsible health care venue. Anything less… I don’t choose to comment; I just would want to be here rather than there. We hope you will agree and contact us for an appointment.