Everyone knows what happens when Lucy, of the “Peanuts” comic strip, convinces Charlie Brown to try to kick the football. The results are predictable, but Charlie Brown never seems to learn.
In some ways, America might face the same scenario with COVID conditions. And we should learn from Charlie Brown.
While many would like to kick the ball — or the battle against the COVID virus — many in the medical community are flashing warning flags through the uprights. Their concern is that by taking our eyes off the ball of continued safe practices, virus infection rates will get away from us again, resulting in us landing flat on our backs again in the fight — just like poor old Charlie Brown.
Galveston County is showing remarkable progress in its vaccination rates. With more than 50 percent of the population over 16 now carrying at least one round of the vaccine, we should be proud.
Few Texas counties can point to rollout more successful than Galveston County. At the time of this writing, health care workers were vaccinating people at a rate of 500 to 600 an hour at the Walter Hall Park vaccination site alone.
We, as a community, owe teams from the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Galveston County Health District deep appreciation for the hard work and keen organizational skills it took to make that happen.
During the week of March 21, 371 positive COVID cases were reported in the county.
About 10 percent of COVID tests reported so far from that week have come back positive.
That’s a big difference from a month ago. During the week of Feb. 21, 666 new positive cases were reported and about 14 percent of local tests were coming back positive.
Four weeks before that, the week of Jan. 24, 1,193 new positive cases were reported and the positivity rate was about 15 percent.
The number of people being treated for COVID-19 in local hospitals each day has more than halved since in the middle of January.
As of Thursday, 20 percent of local ICU patients were being treated for COVID. In January, more than 40 percent were, according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.
While these numbers are good, they’re still higher than rates we saw before the November surge began.
Let’s not let Lucy lull us into a complacent state of over-confidence. The COVID virus is a nasty, mutating and potentially lethal opponent. Each day seems to bring reports of yet another variant on the move. And although vaccines are proving effective, the rate of spread creates increased opportunities for new mutations.
The danger is, the more virus cases in the Petrie dish of our population, the higher the risk for this virus to get away from us again.
This week the United States will cross the 100 million mark of people vaccinated. Roughly speaking, this is approaching 1/3 of the 330 million U.S. population. A good start.
Also heartening is news of studies showing vaccines are effective against spreading COVID.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in clinical and real-world environments the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are proving highly effective in preventing recipients from getting the virus and from spreading it to others.
First shot numbers suggest 80 percent protection against spreading the virus; the rate jumps to 90 percent after a second dose, according to the CDC.
That’s great news and reason for cautious optimism.
We have a chance to wrestle this virus to the ground if we can keep our wits about ourselves. Keeping our eye on the ball means remaining vigilant about wearing masks when not around people in your normal circle, washing your hands regularly and socially distancing when possible.
Let’s not take our eyes off the ball just yet. A bit longer with the good practices, and we may very well be kicking this virus through the uprights. Not staying focused, on the other hand, could put us flat on our backs again. Or as Charlie Brown, says “Aaugh, not again!”
• Leonard Woolsey