An Alabama doctor gave the kind of account of her job during the COVID-19 pandemic that nearly brought me to tears in one paragraph. “I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” Dr. Brytney Cobia wrote in a gut-wrenching Facebook post on Sunday. “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.
”A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same,” Cobia added. “They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”
Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has generally deferred to former President Donald Trump in matters related to the pandemic, but on Wednesday he reversed courses and shared the doctor’s story, initially reported in The Birmingham News. “This is heartbreaking,” the Republican senator tweeted. “Getting the COVID vaccine only takes a few minutes. It’s effective, safe, and doesn’t cost you a dime. I got mine, and I encourage you to talk to your doctor about getting yours.”
Tuberville and high-profile Republicans like Fox News host Sean Hannity have started promoting the vaccine with oddly timed vigor given people have been dying of the virus for more than a year. “Please take COVID seriously. I can’t say it enough,” Hannity said Monday night on his show. “Enough people have died. We don’t need anymore death. Research like crazy.”
Daily Beast Contributing Editor Justin Baragona tweeted on Monday: “There seems to be a concerted effort today by Fox’s daytime news shows to promote the vaccines to its audience. Dr. Marc Siegel says ‘the Delta variant needs to be a wake-up call to get vaccinated.’ Anchor John Roberts then directs viewers to the government vaccine website.”
Experts have described the delta variant of the coronavirus as more contagious and “twice as infectious,” Andy Slavitt, a former adviser to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 response team, told CNN. “Fortunately, unlike 2020, we actually have a tool that stops the Delta variant in its tracks: It’s called vaccine,” Slavitt said.
CNN reported of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that less than half of the country’s population is fully vaccinated, and 99.5% of deaths related to COVID-19 are among unvaccinated patients. “I am heartbroken to see just how hard (physicians are) working — how exhausted they are,” Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN host Anderson Cooper. “Many of them are suffering with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, as a result of the stress that they have endured during this pandemic.”
Murthy added: “There have been multiple times when we have been fooled by Covid-19, when cases went down and we thought we were in the clear and then cases went up again. It means we shouldn’t let down our guard until cases not only come down but stay down, and right now cases are actually going up. Cases are going up, hospitalizations are going up, death rates are ticking up.”