Covid-19: A word from UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson

By Dr. Cam Patterson / UAMS Chancellor

A friend asked the question: If someone is fully vaccinated, why should they wear masks indoors in public? 

I will tell you why I do and why you should too. 

I am a pretty healthy, fully vaccinated 58-year-old, so my risk of contracting Covid-19 and being hospitalized or, God forbid, dying is as close to zero as you can get in medicine,and the same goes for my wife (an infectious disease specialist) and our three teenage kids, all whom are vaccinated. 

All of us have little risk even if we are exposed in public. 

However, that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a small but meaningful risk of having asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic Covid-19 infections. 

It seems that the probability of this occurring is higher with the more transmissible Delta variant. If I or any of my family gets an asymptomatic Covid-19 infection, we can still transmit the virus to others. 

Unfortunately more than 65% of Arkansans are not fully vaccinated and are at risk of serious infections, hospitalization, and death, and the number of new infections is rising dramatically and scarily in our state. Even fully vaccinated individuals who are immunocompromised due to renal disease, from organ transplantation, or for other reasons may have breakthrough infections that are life-threatening — and these are our most vulnerable citizens. 

The Delta variant is serious — we are seeing this UAMS Health and across the state — a much higher percentage in the ICUs, on ventilators, on heart-lung bypass, and a much higher percentage this time in young otherwise healthy individuals. The odds are that we are going to have a much rougher experience with Covid-19 over the next several months than we have experienced in the first 18 months of the pandemic. 

The Delta variant is serious. 

My family is going to keep wearing masks indoors in public spaces because we care about everyone in our state and we want this pandemic to pass as soon as possible. You should too, whether you are vaccinated or not, until we get this virus under control. 

And if you aren’t vaccinated, please get your shot. 

As the Wolf said in Pulp Fiction, “Pretty please, with sugar on top.”