In March of 2020, in shadow, Dr. Richard Loftus took a risk to deliver an urgent message about about COVID-19 to the Coachella Valley and anyone who would listen. At the time only two had died from the virus in Riverside County, both from the valley.
“Every single citizen in this valley is is capable of deciding the fate of our healthcare system and whether it copes with what’s happening or we collapse,” he said adding, if nothing was done, the virus would kill 4,000 people in the high risk category and infect thousands more in the Coachella Valley.
We went into a state ordered lock-down the next day, masks became mandatory and frequent sanitizing became the norm. so far the virus has killed over 22 hundred county-wide and nearly 600 in the valley. It’s estimated COVID kills one American every minute.
He says a famous quote sums up how he’s feeling ten months later, “Everything we do before before the pandemic will feel like it was overkill, everything after will feel like we didn’t do enough.”
He says those precautions saved many lives. Still many have resisted the guidelines and have gathered and traveled over the holidays, as a result Southern California hospitals are at zero percent ICU capacity, some on the verge of rationing care and the virus is only accelerating.
He’s afraid things will get worse before they get better, “My biggest worry is that we’ve not even seen half the deaths we’ve already seen.”
He warns the new more contagious strain of the virus means we have to do even more during a time when many are tired of taking precautions.
“Let me tell you something, this virus doesn’t get tired, it still wants to kill you, it still wants to disable you … we’re in a race against time … we have to do everything we can to vaccinate as many people as possible basically to prevent a lot of disability not to mention a lot of preventable death,” he said.
He says doctors and scientists have paid a price for sounding the alarm and that must change, “People don’t like the message and they get angry and they shoot the messenger, their anger should be focused on the virus to prevent a lot of death and disability.”
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