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Opinion
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Guest Column
Three things you can do to beat omicron | Column
Let’s end this pandemic together. Here is advice from Tampa General’s CEO.
A six-year-old at her second appointment for the Pfizer covid vaccine on Dec. 30, 2021, in San Francisco, Calif.
A six-year-old at her second appointment for the Pfizer covid vaccine on Dec. 30, 2021, in San Francisco, Calif. [ SANTIAGO MEJIA | San Francisco Chronvile via Getty Images ]
Published Jan. 22

We are entering the third year of the pandemic. People are tired. Frustrated.

No one feels this more than the health care workers on the front lines of the war against COVID-19. For more than two years, the doctors, nurses, technicians and other support staff of Tampa General Hospital — and hospitals across the nation and around the world — have gone to great lengths to care for us and keep us safe.

In the face of crisis, our frontline heroes are stepping up to serve their community. Every day, they layer on extra gear to protect themselves and others. Every day, they take on the risk of getting ill. And every day, they treat patients who are suffering.

America’s frontline heroes do everything they can to treat, support and heal those who are ill. But sometimes, everything they can do is not enough.

John Couris
John Couris [ Provided ]

We’re not all on the front lines, but there are things we as members of the community can do to support our health care heroes, prevent the spread of illness and keep our neighbors safe.

I know that people want to return to a normal life. We want to see our friends, go to school, go to work and participate in community events — all without the threat of COVID. To do that, we must do our part to prevent the spread of illness and keep others safe from harm.

As president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital, I am privileged to have access to research, experts and health care providers. Based on research, the input of experts and the advice of practitioners who see patients daily, there are three simple actions we can take to help prevent the spread of illness.

1. Get the vaccine. Whether or not you get the vaccine is your choice. I chose to get the vaccine and the booster. Based on the data available and the patients we see at Tampa General Hospital, it is clear to me that the vaccine is effective.

A majority of patients admitted to the hospital with serious COVID symptoms are unvaccinated. An overwhelming majority of patients who pass away with COVID were not vaccinated.

The COVID variants are all different. Omicron is one of the most contagious. But it is less deadly because the vaccine is widely available and utilized.

If the vaccine is right for you, please take advantage of this option. It is safe. It is proven to prevent serious illness or death. It is free.

2. Make good choices. We have the option to wear a mask and practice physical distancing. These are choices you can make when indoors and surrounded by others who may be carrying COVID-19 or may be vulnerable to COVID-19.

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Masks are proven to protect yourself and others. Masks are most effective when you and those around you wear one. Choose a mask that covers your nose and mouth completely and does not have gaps.

Wash your hands often. Use soap and water and spend at least 20 seconds washing your hands. Hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is helpful to prevent the spread of germs, too.

3. Consider those around you. You may be a young, healthy person. You may not be at high risk. What’s important is to consider the individuals around you.

Your friend, neighbor or colleague could be infected with COVID-19 as a result of your actions. And your friend, neighbor or colleague could suffer greatly due to COVID-19.

Consider those around you and do what you can to protect them.

With the help of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida, we are able to provide treatments that are efficient and effective. For patients who are really sick, we have antiviral agents like Remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies, including Evusheld and Sotrovima.

If you fall ill, there are incredible health systems in this community here to support you. They are some of the nation’s best. No matter what you suffer, these health systems will provide the highest quality care for you, your family and our community.

It’s increasingly important for us to adapt and learn how to coexist with COVID-19. We must continue our lives, our jobs and our contributions to our communities. But we must do so in a way that honors our health care heroes, prevents the spread of illness and respects others around us.

There are ways you can help. Get the vaccine if you can. Continue to make good choices. Consider those around you. Let’s all do our part to prevent the spread of illness and keep others safe from harm.

John Couris is the president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital.

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