A recent letter from C.E. Goodyear published in your paper was critical of recent decisions made by the California Department of Public Health as part of its efforts to curtail the ongoing COVID pandemic.
I will not be addressing comments he made about legal abortions, border security, political ideation, or immigration policies, but as the Health Officer for Trinity County I wish to respond to his comments about COVID as some of the statements he made were incomplete and not accurate.
Mr. Goodyear raises an important issue worthy of discussion, namely personal freedom, choice, and how individuals can be “free to pursue their own lives as they wish so long as they don’t potentially infringe on the lives of others” (Richard Gage, Mt. Shasta).
As a scientist and experienced medical professional, I rely on facts:
A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 3 in 10 medical professionals are indeed considering leaving their jobs because of pandemic burnout, and not because of county or state mandates.
Another study by the Associated Press (AP-NORC poll, Alexandra Olson & Hannah Fingerhut), showed that half of U.S. workers favor employee vaccination mandates.
Personal correspondence with my fellow health officers in California, and other professionals actively engaged in this pandemic work, suggest that 95% of physicians, 70% of RNs, and 60% of nursing assistants have been vaccinated in California.
Oregon has also issued regulations regarding masking and vaccine mandates.
The bottom line is that none of us are independent of the social communities in which we live. We have a moral and ethical obligation to protect those who are unable to be vaccinated because of age or a qualifying medical condition.
The concept of sharing pertinent medical information about yourself is common in the medical community, and it is not possible for us to hide behind HIPAA regulations. When we enter medical or nursing school, or take a job in a health care setting, we have to disclose information about our tuberculosis status and measles immunity for just two examples, and we all get annual flu immunizations or must wear a mask when we are at work.
California is currently experiencing its fastest increase in coronavirus cases since the onset of the pandemic, with case rates increasing ninefold in the last two months. We must do what is necessary to protect our vulnerable populations and to keep health care systems operating across the state, and locally in Trinity County.
Thank you for raising your concerns.