I am writing to you as a member of the Surrey community and as a physician and victim of COVID-19.

I’m 56 years old and was diagnosed with COVID on December 7, 2020. I have struggled for the last four months to recover. Endless lonely nights struggling with shortness of breath and palpitations finally landed me in the hospital, and I’m now stuck on strong medication and continuing rehabilitation. Seeing first-hand the hidden devastation that is taking place in the hospitals will stay with me forever. The health care teams, that have put their lives on the line for us, really are heroes.

So, I’m asking you personally, PLEASE HANG IN THERE A LITTLE LONGER. Even if you have completed your vaccinations, and your family and friends have too, please keep masking up, washing your hands, and maintaining social distancing. We’ve made unbelievable progress in fighting this new scourge over the last year. WE ARE NOT QUITE OUT OF THE WOODS YET.

As of April 1, we have cases of COVID spiking again in many places, including our region, to levels not seen since the beginning of the pandemic. We are all tired of the virus, and many are letting their guard down. The virus is an enemy with infinite patience. If we don’t stamp it out completely, we are going to be in deep trouble again. Why? There are now, as expected, many variants (mutations) from the original virus.

Please Help Keep Everyone Safe

I’m asking you to do your part. Many Americans are still waiting their turn, including many Surrey staff and volunteers, and therefore still in danger. Even vaccinated people can still get sick. The Pfizer vaccine, for example, is more than 80% successful at protecting from getting COVID. However, 20% contagious means that people still get the disease and give it to others.

The harsh fact is that many COVID victims have long term problems regardless of whether they are young or old. Long hauler COVID clinics are full of people from young marathon runners unable to go up the stairs, to seniors who are confined to oxygen for what appears to be life. WE DON’T WANT TO DO THIS TO EACH OTHER.

So please, hang in there a little longer. Be careful so we can continue making progress at defeating an implacable enemy. More than 560,000 Americans have died in the last year, an average of more than 1,500 per day. That’s more than all Americans killed during WWII, Korea and Vietnam combined.

If you need help making a vaccine appointment or need transportation to your vaccine appointment, please call Surrey at 610-647-6404.

The author, Dr. Christopher Vojta, is a Surrey board member trained in geriatrics and epidemiology at Penn.