While COVID deaths have dropped, they are still a leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
People are moving on with their lives, and while health officials say that's good, they also say we should be aware. We should get at least three doses of the COVID vaccine, and if really sick with COVID symptoms, get the life-saving drugs available.
“We need to be aware that this is still around,” said the Assistant Medical Director of Kaiser Permanente, Dr. William Tseng. “This is still killing more people than deaths from motor vehicle accidents. It is killing more people than the drug epidemic. This still remains a serious illness.”
When it comes to people dying from COVID nationwide, Dr. Tseng said the U.S. is at the second lowest level since the pandemic, the lowest being in May or June of 2021.
That is still 400 deaths a day, 3,000 a week, 150,000 in a year, Dr. Tseng said. Half of those who die are not vaccinated, according to Dr. Tseng. The other half is made up of elderly patients, 80 years of age and above most often, then those 65 and older, plus those with chronic disease and those who are immunocompromised.
“San Diego is doing a much better job than the rest of the country because we have such a high commitment to vaccination and protecting our community,” said Doctor Tseng.
In San Diego County, nine deaths were reported last week, five of which occurred in the past two weeks. Five of those who died were 80 years or older, three were in their 70s, and one was in their 60s. Five were fully vaccinated and four were not. All had underlying medical conditions.
“We want to get to you before you even get the severe disease, before you end up in the hospital,” said Dr. Tseng. “There are treatments out there, prevention is still number one, but there are treatments out there, so make sure you take care of yourself.”
Lisa Frommer’s son, Anthony Reina, was 33 years old when on July 28, despite being vaccinated, he died of COVID. Originally from San Diego, he passed away in Virginia. His mother said he was a dedicated husband and father of two young children.
“How could it happen that my son would be sick and we wouldn’t think COVID right away?” asked Frommer. “We didn’t think about it because we had not been hearing about it.”
Frommer and Dr. Tseng urge people who are sick with symptoms to go see the doctor and go to the hospital. “You need to go, you can die, you can die from this,” said Frommer.
COVID is not over, they said.
“He could have been treated with these new medications and this didn't have to be this way, it didn't have to be this way, which hurts the most," said Frommer, adding, “I just don't want it to happen to anybody else.”
The family is collecting donations to help Anthony Reina's two young children, ages 5 and 8. Their mother is in the military and Anthony was a stay-at-home dad who, according to Frommer, was "Mr. Mom."
"He was just fantastically close to his children, and you just never think that anything is going to happen," Frommer said.