Coronavirus

Dr. Jerome Adams: More shutdowns coming if people don’t wear masks, get vaccinated

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday reported the most daily coronavirus cases since Jan. 15. More than 1,600 Hoosiers are in the hospital. And doctors from Riley Hospital for Children told News 8 that 70 children have been in the emergency room just this week alone.

“Don’t be fooled — children get sick. Many of them end up in intensive care units, and children die. And when you look at the state of Indiana during this pandemic, we have lost at least eight dhildren due to coronavirus. And when you look at the numbers nationwide, it’s over 350,” said Dr. John Christenson, medical director of infection prevention with Riley Children’s Health.

Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. surgeon general and WISH-TV medical expert, joined Phil Sanchez on Thursday to discuss what the medical community is seeing in Indiana and what can be done to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Are we at a crisis level when it comes to pediatric hospitals and COVID-19?

“Well, we’re not quite at a crisis level. But I’ll give you some real numbers here. We usually have our highest number of pediatric ICU admissions in January because again, you’re having a lot of respiratory diseases, etc. You usually have your lowest amounts of admissions in August. Our August admissions are surpassing those in January and that’s not just affecting our ability to care for COVID patients. That means that if your child has a car accident, if you kid has cancer, if your kid has another reason that they need to be in the ICU, there may be no room in the inn,” Adams said.

What about nurses and doctors? How are they coping, both physically and emotionally, this time around?

“I can tell you nurses in particular are at a breaking point because before they did what they had to do, knowing that there wasn’t a vaccine available, knowing that there wasn’t PPE out there. What’s so frustrating for nurses and doctors now is knowing we have the tools to stop this virus, and people are choosing not to. And they’re getting particularly frustrated when someone comes in who’s unvaccinated and then they have to stay late. They have to work extra hours, work extra days to take care of someone who could have prevented this from happening,” Adams said.

Tell us more about what you tweeted on Wednesday: “Business shutdowns + virtual school ARE coming soon to a town near you … and it won’t be because of government overreach.”

“Well, it’s important for people to know that as we get caught up in these cultural wars, the delta variant doesn’t care whether or not you want to wear a mask or not or you want to get vaccinated or not. And at the end of the day, it’s not government saying that schools are going to be shut down. Schools are shutting down in our communities because half the class is out with COVID because the teachers are out, your local restaurant can’t run if the chef is out with COVID. So we need to stop the spread, otherwise we’re going to be seeing more and more shutdowns whether we want to or not,” Adams said.

What’s the likelihood of those shutdowns happening?

“I think the likelihood is high because we still haven’t reached the peak of this delta wave, but we can shorten the pain that we have if people continue to get back and they didn’t and if they wear a mask when asked to. This (mask) is an incredibly powerful tool. It’s not the perfect tool, but it’s an incredibly powerful tool to help slow spread and get us through this current surge,” Adams said.

With high school football coming up and people who will be going out to concerts in the fall, should people be concerned about going to large events?

“Well, yes, they should be concerned. And I tell people three simple things: Know your risk, know your environment, know how to stay safe. So if you’re someone who has immunocompromised status, if you’re someone who is unvaccinated, then you’re going to be at higher risk. Know your environment — are you going to be in a situation where you can control who you’re around, how far you are from people, whether or not people are going to be forced to show proof of vaccination or wear a mask? And then know how to stay safe. So for instance, when you’re one of those choke points when you’re going into the Colts stadium, when you’re in line waiting to get through security, that’s the time to make sure you have your mask on, whether you’re vaccinated or not. When you’re waiting in the restroom, make sure you have your mask on, whether you’re vaccinated or not. It’s a big, open space. I think they can safely have games, but it’s only going to be safe if people follow precautions,” Adams said.

When are we going to say goodbye to these masks?

“Well, it’s going to be when we decide to get vaccinated. I mean, the key to moving forward is to get enough people vaccinated that we get to herd immunity. And so we can get there, but we all need to come together, encourage vaccinations. If you have someone who has questions, please, please tell them to go to a doctor health provider, get their questions answered, because that’s when we move away from these (masks), when we get more of these in arms,” Adams said.

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