I stood in the grassy area while we assembled, ready to support new SLC Council Members Victoria Petro-Eschler and Alejandro Puy’s message for Salt Lake Westside residents. Because Westside COVID-19 cases have been rising at rates higher than with non-Westside residents, Puy and Petro-Eschler would cite research, and their own experiences, that those of Latino and Pacific Islander descent were more likely to not be fully vaccinated and more heavily affected.
As community leaders arrived before the event started, we began re-introducing ourselves to many we had not seen in-person since early 2020. While visiting, members of the Mayor’s staff would take us to record 30-second messages for a campaign to supplement the event. Those representing Latino and Pacific Islander communities were asked to share messages in their native tongues, and I was happy to share thoughts in English and Portuguese. All the while we continued speaking, with conversations inevitably moving to our opinions on the pandemic and worries for our communities.
Speaking with Mayor Mendenhall, I mentioned I was grateful this event was happening. Honestly, even if only one person’s convinced to get fully vaccinated and wear a mask, then this whole thing will be worth it.
“You know, I agree. Please share that message with others, because you’re right,” Mayor Mendenhall said.
Messages like these could be heard scattered throughout the conversations. I share this because, contrary to the belief of many, we weren’t meeting as some wicked cabal to trick people into vaccination. There were no nefarious motives, just sharing our philosophy that following the counsel of laboratory and clinic-based scientists – along with medical physicians – is the best bet to lessen the effects of the pandemic.
As someone who is a published scientific author, inventor, healthcare administrator, and is doing a doctoral dissertation on the difficulty for novel treatments to be adopted in medicine, I have seen firsthand the rigorous path for vetting medical innovations as well as how overworked our healthcare providers are in treating those who could have avoided infection.
Are masks, vaccines, or physical distancing recommendations 100% effective? No.
Do these things, done together, effectively stave off possibly fatal effects? Most definitely. National data reflects this, summarized by the Washington DOH’s findings: “COVID-19 hospitalization rates among 12–34-year-old individuals are 5 times higher… 35-64 year-old individuals are 8 times higher… [and] 65+ year-old individuals are 7 times higher in the unvaccinated population than in the fully vaccinated population.”
From personal experience, my fully-vaccinated daughters have gone to their competitive dance team practices while wearing masks. Earlier in 2022, over half of the team didn’t go to practice because they were home sick with COVID-19. Meanwhile, my kids have not yet contracted Omicron and are free to continue normal activities without interruption.
Please take time to study this issue using sources you agree – and disagree – with. We’d all like this pandemic to end, and it starts with each individual. I hope it will be sooner rather than later.
Joseph Bart Venâncio Arrington is the Chair of West View Media’s board of directors and the Westside Coalition’s Board of Directors, as well as Chair of the Jordan Meadows Community Council. He works in academic operations at Intermountain Medical Center and is researching healthcare innovations for his doctorate.