Guest Opinion: The state of the pandemic — infection rates and vaccinations

We presently do not have any known future allocations and are at the mercy of federal and state distributions.

Joel Beiswenger.jpg
Joel Beiswenger

I know many of you continue to look to Tri-County Health Care for guidance and information on the COVID-19 pandemic. We all realize there is vaccine-related content being shared on social media outlets but unfortunately, much of it is not based on sound scientific information. We are happy to be a trusted source of science-based information for you.

We have seen significant improvement in regional spread since November. Our staff and incident command team are still monitoring for a post-holiday and post-reopening surge. Our testing positivity rate has dropped below 5%. This is a vast improvement over our high of 32% in November.

The vaccination process has been the top news, both nationally and locally for the past several weeks. We acknowledge and sympathize with your frustration about the slow access to vaccination. We have been able to get the vaccine to a little over 700 of our highest risk patients. However, we presently do not have any known future allocations and are at the mercy of federal and state distributions. The most recent news from the federal government appears promising, but until we have the vaccine, our message to you will continue to be, “please standby for more information.”

Please understand that Tri-County Health Care staff that were vaccinated in the past month had minimal negative reactions. The scientific data regarding the vaccine is comprehensive. However, we respect each person’s individual choice regarding your decision to vaccinate or not. Our best evidence is that nearly 90% of Tri-County Health Care providers and 65% of our staff have received the vaccine to date. Those with the most knowledge of the medical data are taking advantage of this preventative tool. I have received the vaccine and experienced no adverse symptoms from the first shot and only a minor soreness at the injection site after my second dose. Staff members are generally reporting more reactions after the second dose. No severe emergency reactions have taken place at Tri-County Health Care. I want everyone reading this to know the vaccine is safe. It may not be available to you now but when it is, please sign up.

We have taken every measure to ensure a safe and efficient rollout. We have expended a great deal of energy providing education to staff and the public. It’s important to be informed about the science around the COVID-19 vaccine. Its efficacy, production and how it provides immunity are all topics that should be thoroughly understood before getting the shot.


I’m excited about the new year. We have the vaccine and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Experts theorize that it will take around 80% of the general public to get vaccinated to achieve a state of herd immunity. The vaccine’s rollout has been slower than anticipated but we hope that mass amounts of the vaccine will be available in the near future.

I’ve been reflecting more than usual. I miss normal life just like everyone and want to travel again. I want to go out and enjoy a meal. I want to see my extended family again. Even though I have been immunized, I will continue to wear my mask and social distance. Getting the vaccine is not a free pass to hit the bar for drinks or gather at a concert or sporting event. It is, however, a sign that you care enough about yourself and the health of those around to do something truly great. You are contributing to a movement to make our society a safe and healthier place.

Joel Beiswenger is President and CEO of Tri-County Health Care
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