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Sunday, November 21, 2021

One in Charlestown residents remain unvaxxed

Statewide rates for COVID are high and getting higher

By Will Collette

Later this week, many families will gather for Thanksgiving meals. Last year, such gatherings were the first of a series of holiday super-spreader events that fueled a truly awful winter surge in COVID-19 cases that killed thousands and sickened millions.

One year later, we are much better off, thanks to shedding Donald Trump and the advent of safe and effective COVID vaccines and treatments. In Charlestown and in Rhode Island as a whole most people have gotten vaccinated. But how well have we really done after months of pandemic hell?

On November 8, I ran an article I wrote, Vox Populi: How is Charlestown doing?, on the theme of how easy it is to make statistics tell you anything you want to hear. You can do that with COVID depending on what point of view you take in looking at the numbers.

I will tell you upfront that I take a very cynical perspective strongly biased toward caution. I base that on a lifetime of work in fields where I saw a lot of suffering caused by toxic exposure that many experts claimed was harmless. However mostly it's because Cathy and I are both in our seventies and have medical conditions that put us in the high-risk category for COVID.

When I saw an article written for the Chariho Times by Philip Cozzolino on vaccination rates in Washington County, my take was different than his.

He began by reporting the state had reached our accidental Governor Dan McKee’s goal of topping 90% of adults at least partially vaccinated. Said McKee, “Rhode Island might be small, but we are mighty – especially when it comes to getting shots in arms.”

Well huzzah, Dan. That’s undeniably good, except that the rate drops to 82% for those fully vaccinated. It also omits the data for those eligible under 18. They can get and spread COVID too. It's obvious that those dreams of "herd immunity" so popular last year were bovine excrement.

Charlestown fails to meet state stats.

According to Cozzolino’s data, Charlestown is best among the Chariho towns with 73.1% partly vaccinated (compared to the +90% statewide total) and 68.5% of Charlestown adults fully vaccinated compared to the state’s 82% tally.

So 1 out of 4 Charlestown adults are UNVACCINATED.

I think it is reasonable to ask why so many in Charlestown still don’t seem to get it that COVID-19 can and does kill and doesn’t care how old you are, how great your immune system is, if you’ve dosed yourself with ivermectin or whether you think it’s a hoax.

Even though Bonnie Van Slyke thinks Charlestown did an exemplary job during the pandemic (and all due kudos to EMA director Kevin Gallup), these numbers show we're not done yet:

The Health Department’s data tables show more than 1 in 10 Charlestown residents have already gotten COVID (856 cases), Charlestown is also in the middle of its third highest spike in hospitalizations; the worst spike was November of last year. Our current infection rate (758 per 100,000 of population) almost three times higher than the state rate. 

Statewide COVID stats are bad

McKee may consider it a triumph that 1 in 10 Rhode Island adults are not vaccinated at all as well as the 1 in 5 who are not fully vaccinated. But the problem is that they are probably the numb nuts you see most often walking around unmasked.

But Dan McKee, in his maniacal quest to get everybody to go to the store, ignored some vital statistics from his own Health Department.

Let’s start with the rate of transmission, still in the red zone. On the Fourth of July, our transmission rate was 12 per 100,000 which was very good. But now, it is currently 292 per 100,000 which is awful. That means the rate the virus is spreading in the community is 25 times higher.

Nick Landekic reported in GoLocal:

RI currently has the second-fastest rate of increase of infections in the country, up 87% over the past two weeks. Hospitalizations are also up 28% over the past two weeks. Weekly deaths are now about five times higher than they were just at the beginning of October.

Earlier this week, McKee touted booster shots for all who are eligible. I’m all for that; Cathy and I got ours, and our flu shots at the same time.

Break-through infections among the vaccinated are why I worry about going outdoors.

Here’s Nick Landekic again:

This year 12,810 vaccinated Rhode Islanders became infected with COVID, of which 542 had to be hospitalized, and 83 died. Last week alone over 1,000 vaccinated people in Rhode Island came down with COVID infections. Many of these might have been preventable if those people had received vaccine booster doses.

But McKee, in his excitement to get everyone to go out and spend money at his precious small businesses, gave the impression the boosters give you instant immunity. Get the booster today he says and you’re good to go by Thursday’s dinner.

Well, that’s not quite true, as it takes a week or two for the booster to reach its full effect.  

Further, according to Landekic, only about 18% of vaccinated Rhode Islanders have received a booster dose to date, in line with the averages across the country.

To beat COVID, everyone needs to get vaxxed and to take precautions until we get our illness and death statistics down. Sure, we need our cheerleaders to always look at the bright side but perhaps not like the famous last scene in Monty Python’s movie, the Life of Brian.

Appointments for a COVID-19 primary series or booster shot can be made at or by calling 844-930-1779.