COLUMN: With cases surging, county panel urges vaccinations

The San Benito County COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee writes that the state’s reopening June 15 along with recent holiday gatherings and the Delta variant’s emergence have combined to cause the recent increase to case numbers and hospitalizations in San Benito County.

This Column was written by San Benito County’s COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee comprised of Dr. David Guilarducci, Dr. George Gellert, Health & Human Services Director Tracey Belton, Supervisors Bob Tiffany and Kollin Kosmicki. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites community members to share their ideas and opinions. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the top right corner of our home page and agreeing to follow our Terms of Use, you can write counter opinions or share your insights on current issues.

A consistent uptick of COVID-19 cases in San Benito County, the Delta variant’s growing presence and a slowing vaccination rate here have raised serious concerns about our progress fighting this deadly pandemic.

This new reality we face is daunting, but vaccines remain the only solution for our community to successfully battle this resurgence and avoid more significant restrictions on our daily lives. Numbers simply don’t lie. Unvaccinated people remain at the highest risk of infection, serious illness and death, and we must see a much larger percentage of our community immunized before we can get a firm handle on the spread of COVID-19.

This, of course, means local individuals who remain on the fence about vaccinations should get immunized as soon as possible, or else the likelihood is that our once-collective optimism will fade and this vicious cycle will continue.

Credible scientific data show that without a significant increase in vaccinations, cases will continue to accumulate, vulnerable residents will needlessly suffer and it will take longer for our lives to reach normalcy again. It’s also important to emphasize that a broad swatch of reputable experts and doctors have stressed these vaccines are very safe with few or no side effects for the vast majority of people. The risk of avoiding vaccines, experts have continually underscored, far outweighs any miniscule risks associated with getting the shots.

The state’s reopening June 15 along with recent holiday gatherings and the Delta variant’s emergence have combined to cause the recent increase to case numbers and hospitalizations in San Benito County. This trend should raise the alarm bell for our community and remind everyone what happened in January when numbers skyrocketed and led to the most devastating period of the pandemic. We are not out of the woods, so to speak, despite an attainable solution that requires buy-in from those who are hesitant about these clearly safe and effective vaccines.

We understand that among the unvaccinated portion of our community, there are generally two types of individuals: Those who staunchly oppose the vaccines due to philosophical beliefs and those willing to consider getting the shots but may have some sort of deterrent standing in the way. We are not naive about the plausibility of convincing philosophically opposed individuals to do what’s right for the community, but we remain optimistic about the reluctant population and want those residents to consider the following:

  • 99.5% of all COVID deaths nationwide are now unvaccinated people.

  • A large majority of cases and hospitalizations in San Benito County are unvaccinated individuals.

  • The Delta variant that is spreading in San Benito County is twice as infectious as the original virus.

  • Those dying from COVID-19 are younger than they were earlier in the pandemic.

  • COVID-19 vaccinations are safe, effective, free and save lives.

Ultimately, it is incumbent upon residents to make decisions about vaccinations based on real data and credible science — not politics or hearsay. There’s one clear reason why our county experienced a precipitous drop in cases, hospitalizations and deaths after the spike at the start of the year — vaccines — and they’re the only way we’re going to stem the disturbing trend we are now experiencing once again.

San Benito County COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee