Surgeon General Just Issued "Heartbreaking" COVID Warning
The coronavirus pandemic is showing signs of slowing but not ending, at least not anytime soon in America. As vaccinations increase, experts worry they are not being adopted fast enough—and misinformation floods social media feeds, in a country polarized. With this top of mind, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the United States Surgeon General, appeared with religious leaders for Let's Talk: An Online Conversation with the Surgeon General. Read on for five life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Dr. Murthy Warned That Misinformation May Cost You Your Life
"Misinformation literally costs people their lives, we've seen that time and time again, I've seen that during this pandemic up close, and it's heartbreaking," said Murthy. "Because I've also been throughout my career in medicine, at the bedside of patients where we knew what was wrong with them, but we didn't have any way to help them because we did science, hadn't delivered a medicine yet, or a vaccine to be able to treat them or prevent their illness. That is not the case right now. We actually have something that can help prevent people from dying and ending up in the hospital. And those are the vaccines. We've seen that in the proof is in the pudding, if you will—more than a hundred million shots have been administered in the United States, many more millions around the world. And we've seen even in this last surge, with the Delta virus…the vast majority of people who ended up in the hospital and we died were un-vaccinated as yet, again, more proof that the vaccines can save lives."
Dr. Murthy Said Side Effects are Extremely Rare and COVID is Worse
One religious leader brought up the fact that he heard a woman died after getting the J&J vaccine. "There've been a few rare instances where they have found rare side effects, right?" said Murthy. "So with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, some of you may have heard that they found a rare side effect of blood clots, a specific type of blood clot that was dangerous. And part of the reason they flagged that is they wanted people to know, but they also wanted doctors to know how to treat them appropriately so that people could survive and then go on to do well. Every now and then they will find a rare event that happens like that."
Murthy said breakthrough infections leading to death were also rare.
"Even if they have a vaccine, they still may be less likely to get sick of they have the vaccine. ….Colin Powell" who died of complications from COVID, despite being vaccinated "was older. He was an advanced age, but he was also battling a blood cancer, something called multiple myeloma, two reasons to actually to have sort of more compromised immune function. So even though he was vaccinated, he's one of the small sliver of individuals who ended up getting severely ill." It is extremely unlikely to happen to most people, he said, and COVID is riskier.
"I would have folks step back. If you ever hear these anecdotes and number one, ask where did they hear that information? Where are they getting it? Sometimes people assume because it's on the internet, it must be true. Or maybe I heard it on a news channel on the radio. So it must be true, but this is one of those moments where we've got to be especially vigilant. We've got to check with credible sources like your doctor, your children's hospital, your local department of health, the CDC, a faith leader that you trust and understand what the facts are because otherwise it's not only easily to be misled, but the stakes are so high right now, especially with the Delta variant out there," said Murthy.
Murthy Said No Vaccine is 100% Effective…but Neither is Your Seat Belt, and You Wear That, Right?
"If I told you that you could reduce your risk by 95% of anything, of, you know, getting hurt. If you were in an accident, you would do that, right? IT happens that sometimes people with while wearing seatbelts, they might still get severely injured and they're in a bad enough accident, but we don't take that to mean that seatbelts don't work because, we know now from a lot of data that they have helped save countless lives."
Murthy Said Here's How the Government Was Trying to Build Trust in Science
"This is I think a central question, not just to this pandemic, but it will be of how we address future pandemics, which is how do we build trust and recognize that these efforts to respond to a pandemic, to vaccinate our country, they move at the speed of trust. That trust is almost as important, if not more important than how quickly you actually get the vaccine to locations and how many vaccinators email, a couple of things I would say about this. If we look at trends over time, we know that people have their faith in public institutions and even some private institutions. has declined over the years. We know that there has been a lot of misinformation circulating, especially aided and abetted by technology platforms often unintentionally, but nevertheless, that has had an adverse impact on people's trusts and sometimes even in each other."
"So we stand at a moment where we have a deficit in trust, at a time where we need that trust to deliver messages about everything from the vaccine," continued Murthy. "How people can stay safe during this pandemic? A couple of things that the government is doing and can do. One is to recognize where trust exists in our communities. And very interestingly people's trust is not vanished entirely, but it's actually gone more local, right? So people still have trust in their family by and large, they might trust their good friends. Uh, they may trust a faith organization that they're a part of. They may trust, uh, you know, a boss at work. If they really respect them, you know, and feel that they care about their welfare, they may trust their doctor or their other healthcare providers. And so what government has to do in part is recognize that that's where trust is, and then work to support, uh, those individuals and institutions, and by making sure that those individuals, institutions have the information they need, or that they know where it's coming from."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.