The COVID-19 vaccines are doing what they are supposed to in New York City. They are preventing hospitalizations, deaths, and the spread of COVID-19. However, the recent Delta variant is causing an increase in hospitalizations. In other parts of the country, some emergency departments are being overwhelmed, and some hospitals are seeing nurse and doctor shortages to combat this.
William L. Goldberg, MD, an emergency medicine doctor at NYU Langone Health, was there when New York City was the first city in America to become a COVID-19 hot spot. New Yorkers embraced wearing masks and social distancing, flattening the curve and lowering the rate of transmission drastically by the summer of 2020.
The New York vaccination numbers are higher than in many other places. However, the Delta variant–driven jump in cases has shown that more eligible adults need to get their shots to protect their neighbors and their communities. Additional measures are coming. On August 16, New York is set to become the first U.S. city to require proof of vaccination at indoor restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms. That includes employees and customers, further pressuring the city’s remaining vaccine holdouts.
With uncertainty on the horizon, nurses and doctors in the emergency departments are preparing to face the worst-case scenario, though they had hoped the worst was behind us.
“I was hoping we’d be out of this by now,” Dr. Goldberg says. “It really is incumbent upon all of us to protect those people by getting vaccinated, encouraging our neighbors to get vaccinated, and to debunk all the conspiracy theories and the misinformation that are out there.”
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