We’ve debated about the danger of the coronavirus. We’ve questioned its origins, and we’ve argued over the best methods to control it while minimizing the damage to our lives and welfare.

But, now, a year and a half since COVID-19 arrived in the Crossroads, some things have come clearly into focus. We now know that the vast majority of those who are becoming seriously sick are unvaccinated.

On Monday, Dr. John McNeill, an ER doctor at Citizens Medical Center who serves as the public health authority for Victoria, Goliad and DeWitt counties, gave a dire prognosis about the state of the pandemic in the Crossroads

The much more contagious and dangerous delta variant is sweeping through our communities, sending younger and younger people, many who are younger than 50, to hospitals with severe illness.

Unlike the original coronavirus with which we have battled for more than a year, the delta variant will infect “everybody in the room,” who is unvaccinated, McNeill said.

It’s “just as bad, if not worse” as the worst peaks we experienced during 2021 and 2020, he said.

Since the start of July, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in our area has increased at an alarming, exponential rate. On the week of July 7, there were 21 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Victoria, Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Jackson and Lavaca counties. On July 28, there were 62 patients. On Wednesday, there were 137 patients.

Citizens Medical Center is no longer accepting transfer patients, McNeill said. They are also unable to transfer patients to other medical facilities where they could receive better care, he said.

Throughout the area’s hospitals, a little more than one in five of all hospitalized patients now have COVID-19. Of those who are seen by McNeill, the doctor estimates about “99% are unvaccinated.”

Many of those people, McNeill added, wished they were vaccinated after they became critically ill — after it was too late.

But there is a silver lining in all this.

The delta variant, despite its terrifying capability to infect and hurt us, can still be controlled by our COVID-19 vaccines. Yes, vaccinated people are still likely to transmit the virus to others, but they are far, far less likely to become seriously ill or die.

If only one out of a hundred of those admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 are vaccinated, that means 99 people likely would have avoided serious illness or death with the shot. That’s a stark but reassuring comparison. Think how much less strained our hospitals would be without those 99 unvaccinated people.

That’s why we urge Crossroads residents to talk to their doctors about the vaccines and see if it is safe for them to be vaccinated.

Consider McNeill’s words, which were published on Friday in the Victoria Advocate.

“Here’s the bottom line — and I’ve always said this — being hospitalized is where the rubber hits the road,” McNeill said. “You can avoid all of that by not being in the hospital, and you can avoid being in the hospital, statistically and medically, by being vaccinated. No matter what you believe — just think of it as an anti-hospitalization shot instead of a vaccine.”

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This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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