DOYLESTOWN – Gerald Wydro chairs emergency medicine at Jefferson Health Northeast, and is medical director at Penndel-Middletown Rescue Squad and Bucks County Emergency Health Service.
Dr.Wydro has a message for those who are concerned that the coronavirus pandemic is a myth, or at least, an exaggeration.
“If you have any questions about how real and serious this pandemic is, visit your local emergency room,” said the doctor, fresh off an overnight shift to speak at a COVID-19 update with the Bucks County Commissioners on Friday morning. “People are being treated in hallways, people are being treated in spaces that are not ordinarily used for medical treatment. Any questions you may have would be put to rest if you go to your local emergency room.”
Wydro asked Bucks County residents to remember that while this holiday season, people are being asked to keep celebrations at a minimum, but a year from now, there should be a very different picture.
“We have a vaccine,” said the emergency services doctor, showing a sticker announcing his own vaccination. “There is a light at the end of this tunnel.”
Of course, as we are well into the December holidays, people are deeply ingrained toward gathering with family and friends and heading to religious services. People who have been holed up in their house want desperately to get together for those traditions.
Buck County Department of Health’s Dr. David Damsker asks that if you should, do so with all the restrictions in mind – keeping to small groups – preferably outside, six feet of separation, facial masks, and frequent handwashing.
“People talk about the surge at Thanksgiving but we actually had a surge before Thanksgiving, the holiday just made it that much worse,” said the health department director. “We are that much more concerned about Christmas and New Year’s.”
As of the time of this Bucks County Commissioner’s meeting, the county reported a total of 25,496 COVID-19 cases and 820 deaths. Almost 7,000 of those cases – or 6,887 a cording to the New York Times – are from the past two weeks, the result of the dreaded cold-weather and holiday surge public health advocates warned was likely.
Damsker said Zoom family traditions might not replace the real thing. “But we will be better for it. This will allow us to get to those celebrations next year. Hey, we all have a crazy uncle that we really don’t want in our home for too long. This year, that crazy uncle is on your Zoom call instead of in your home.”
But what about the vaccine? When will everyone have it?
Damsker and Wydro both advised that the rollout will be for the next several months, and of course, there is a need for a follow-up vaccine for everyone, which will extend the time frame before the general public is vaccinated.
“Have patience,” said Damsker. “We are in phase one of this rollout with high-risk medical providers this week, more hospitals next week then long-term care facilities through a partnership of pharmacies….not everyone is going to get vaccinated at once.”
Commission Chair Diane Ellis-Marseglia said she has been receiving calls about gyms in particular, that are remaining open despite Gov. Tom Wolf’s mitigation orders on December 12, which banned indoor operations until January 4 for restaurants, gyms, casinos and theaters.
“My advice to gym owners would be, don’t open your gym,” said Damsker. “We have to fight this all together. A few gyms can’t ignore the restrictions and have others follow the rules. We are really all in this together, so we have to fight it together.”