Grow up and get vaccinated already

York Dispatch Editorial Board

York County needs to grow up.

In 21 months, York County has lost 934 people to COVID-19. 

We don't know all of their names or their ages or whether they had any preexisting conditions that made them more susceptible to the disease.

And really, that doesn't matter.

There are 934 people who are no longer living in York County because they contracted the coronavirus and got sick and died.

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It didn't have to be this way. We came so close to having this under control. There were days in June when York County's new cases were in the single digits. We went for a week in July with no deaths.

Now, in many ways, York County is in worse shape than it was last fall, when we were seeing deaths most days but the number of new cases each day remained below 100 until November.

Now, every day sees 200 new cases in York County, every day sees more deaths — 16 in the past week —  every day sees more people hospitalized, with 132 in the hospital on Thursday, 27 of them on ventilators to keep oxygen moving into their lungs. 

And yet, every day, it seems, Yorkers take more steps away from the acknowledgement that there's a deadly pandemic going on around us.

Just look around. In stores, fewer and fewer people are wearing masks. More people are going to restaurants and bars, where they aren't wearing masks. And there's the ongoing fight over the mask mandate for schools.

Pair that with the county's vaccination rate, and we have a problem. Fifty-eight percent of York County has been vaccinated, well below the 70% rate the state reached on Wednesday. 

The vaccine gave us that window in early summer when case numbers and deaths dipped and it seemed like the end of the pandemic might be near. But now we're back here.

Volunteer Norma Shue, 87, prepares Barb Deller of Springettsbury Township, left, for her vaccination at the WellSpan Community COVID-19 Vaccination Site in the former A.C. Moore location on Loucks Road in York City Sunday, April 18, 2021. Norma, a volunteer at numerous organizations around York County, has volunteered at WellSpan for 17 years after retiring from the healthcare network. She was honored with a bouquet of flowers Sunday – the first day of National Volunteer Appreciation Week – from a former vaccination patient. Bill Kalina photo

COVID-19 is breaking us, and we can't get back to normal as long as people are behaving like children.

This isn't the flu. You can't cure it with livestock dewormer. The vaccine won't magnetize you or let the government track you or make you impotent. 

We're all tired from this, the daily case numbers, the school closings, the death count. The thought that, even if we're vaccinated, even if our loved ones are vaccinated, we will become sick. The constant worry about children who can't be vaccinated yet, about people who can't receive the vaccine for medical reasons. The stress when people we love who refused the vaccine and spoke out against masks fall sick and die.

Because that's who's getting very sick now, the people who have, for whatever reason, not been vaccinated. WellSpan Health recently posted a graphic on social media showing the disparity: Of 206 COVID-19 patients in the system's hospitals that day, 21 were vaccinated. Of the 38 in ICUs and the 30 on ventilators, none had received the vaccine.

To all those people who just went and got vaccinated, thank you. 

To those who haven't, let's talk. 

Maybe you won't get sick. Maybe if you do, you won't die. Maybe your kids will be fine sitting in class without a mask. Maybe your parents and grandparents and aunts and co-workers and people who wait on you in restaurants and stores won't get sick because you exposed them to the coronavirus.

But why in God's name would you continue to take that risk?

Get the shots. Wear a mask when you're indoors in public. Care about someone other than yourself.

Grow up.