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Guthrie says more vaccinations will achieve faster return to normalcy

April 7, 2021 | 12:09 am

Updated April 6, 2021 | 9:55 pm

Brett Guthrie | Photo courtesy of Owensboro Health

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) on Tuesday toured the vaccine clinic at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. Guthrie expressed his hopes for the future by commending OHRH’s vaccination process and touched on a number of COVID-related issues that still need to be addressed. 

Guthrie, who serves on the oversight committee for Operation Warp Speed, said the number one question he’s received has been, “When are things going to get back to normal?” 

“If you think of where we are today … the three vaccines that are being delivered — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have been approved by the FDA as safe and effective,” he said. “I know it was rapid. It was the government working with private businesses. It was rapid, but it did not cut any corners on safety and efficacy.” 

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Guthrie also mentioned recent highlights of the vaccination rollout, such as the country already having vaccinated more than 100 million people since January. 

Similar to what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week during his visit to OHRH, Guthrie said he was encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

“That’s really how we get back to normal,” he said. “We let the hospitals do what the hospitals were doing before COVID.” 

Guthrie said each of the vaccines on the market would remain effective for at least six months. At this time, government officials and medical professionals remained unsure if vaccinated individuals would require a second booster shot in the future, but studies were ongoing, he said. 

As for reopening the economy, Guthrie said it all started by making sure hospitals weren’t overwhelmed and could operate at normal levels again. Guthrie also said he believed all schools should be open to in-person learning. 

“If you’ve got four or five people in the hospital now and your schools still aren’t open, I’m not sure what decision-making process you’re still using,” he said. “It didn’t just overwhelm the healthcare system because of COVID. It overwhelmed the system so much because they couldn’t do other things. I assume there are patients in the ICU that don’t have COVID.” 

With the most vulnerable populations largely vaccinated, Guthrie said he believed the economy should begin reopening at normal levels. 

Francis DuFrayne, OHRH chief medical officer, addressed on the number of people who’d been vaccinated locally — both through the hospital and other agencies — saying there was still some work to do to achieve herd immunity in the area. 

According to DuFrayne, Owensboro Health’s most recent data showed that only 60% of its staff had been vaccinated so far. 

“We would obviously like it to be better, and part of that will be a Facebook Live event next Tuesday with Judge-Executive Al Mattingly,” he said. “We’re going to specifically target one of the groups that’s really hesitant, and that is young women that are really afraid of fertility issues.”

DuFrayne said it had been proven that the vaccines did not cause fertility issues, adding that “there are probably fertility issues if you get the virus.” 

Currently, the vaccinated population in Daviess County was even lower than 60%, DuFrayne said, adding that to achieve the goal of herd immunity, 75-80% of the population would have to get vaccinated.

“We’re reaching out to the underserved communities and going to other areas and venues to make it easier,” he said.

DuFrayne noted there are other issues, such as overcoming language barriers with the Burmese and Hispanic populations locally, that health officials are continuing to address as they try to help get vaccine info out.

“We’re reaching out to the underserved communities and going to other areas and venues to make it easier,” he said.

April 7, 2021 | 12:09 am

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