December 02, 2021LANCASTER — Lancaster Health Officer Ted Joubert discussed the current COVID situation in the area, stating that numbers on the DHHS website aren't up to date in regards to active cases.
"We treat everyone we come into contact with, as though they have COVID. It's better to be proactive than reactive," said Joubert.
It was brought up at the last School Board meeting that the Lancaster Elementary School has higher cases than other schools in the district. Joubert noted that with that said, the numbers are still significantly lower than area schools, including Littleton who have had a major outbreak.
"Can you imagine if we didn't have our students wearing masks like in Littleton? It would be even worse," said Joubert.
In keeping with the subject of school, Joubert said, "I think there's a lot of contextual information that goes into it. For me, if you want to talk numbers, let's talk about hospitalizations. Let's talk about vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. The schools really have not been on our radar. Even now after a busy weekend that was a massive punch to the state's gut."
The Health Officer added, "Right now, there is one child hospitalized with COVID in the state. The issue is that students are passing COVID off to faculty members and older family members and because of cause and effect, hospital beds are now at capacity. Further, these adults are dying. It doesn't matter how many died, or what the percentage is. One community member dead is one too many."
Joubert relayed that the lack of ICU beds is a real problem that residents in the Lancaster area are facing.
"We almost had to transport a person to Connecticut. We looked at 21 hospitals before we found an ICU bed in Massachusetts," he explained.
The stress of health care workers is very real, and according to Joubert there is mass frustration.
"I don't care what kind of conspiracy people are seeing on Facebook, or what the percentage of survival is. The fact is that people are dying. Right here in our own community," Joubert said. "Anyone can come in and talk to my staff who is burned out. They feel agitated, and feel as though they're going to get overwhelmed with patients because people don't want to participate in basic things like social distancing and mask wearing, or getting vaccinated."
Joubert said, "Let's be honest, COVID is the culprit. It's causing a domino effect in our health care system, so people who need care for other reasons can't get it because of COVID. Think about the evolution of the healthcare system. They grow over time based on population density and just typical volume, right? It's just not sustainable. Systems are not designed to suddenly one day have 300 new patients added constantly. It just doesn't work that way. So you have a patient that has COVID-19 that needed emergency care based on other co-morbidities and they had to shop 21 hospitals to find to find a bed for that person."
In Littleton and here in our district, Joubert pointed out that many parents can't skip work to stay home with their children if they test positive.
"At least in our district, we're trying to do the right thing by wearing masks, to keep our numbers as low as possible, so that parents can go to work, and not worry about childcare," he said.
"I know COVID patients who have died right here. I don't want to get anymore phone calls from people who are saying they can't breathe. One individual, prior to his death, told me he should have taken it more seriously and gotten the vaccine," said Joubert.
He added, "It's not just the COVID patients that are suffering, it's all of the patients in the entire healthcare system. Everyone that needs a hospital bed, and can't get one right now, is suffering."
Booster clinics, as well as first and second doses will be available for all first responders at the Lancaster Ambulance Bay on Mechanic Street on Dec. 3, 10 and 17.