Fall has officially arrived. The days are getting shorter and cooler—though as I write this, we are enjoying a wonderful bonus week of summer-like temperatures! Soon, fall will don its colorful regalia, with falling leaves and pumpkins. I will miss the warm weather and the sunshine that marked my first summer as an Ohio resident.
It’s been a remarkable summer. It began with a renewed sense of optimism as COVID 19 cases dropped to levels not seen since the beginning of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the rise of the Delta variant took advantage of our incomplete vaccination rates and we are currently in the middle of a substantial surge. And so, the pandemic continues to dominate our daily lives. Still, together we launched another new academic year, in person, albeit with masks in place. It is wonderful to see White Hall flowing with life again. With the help of our student health leadership, we are closely monitoring for exposures and COVID incidences. I’m happy to report we have seen no COVID cases related to our in-class academic activities. Masking works!
And vaccines work, too. We are fortunate to have effective and safe vaccines available to assist in the fight. Countless lives have been saved since the rollout in January. Although some “breakthrough” infections are happening, the evidence is overwhelming that the vaccines are very effective in preventing hospitalizations and death. The data below is from the Ohio Department of Health. Since January 1, 97 percent of hospitalizations and 99 percent of the related deaths have been in unvaccinated individuals.
For me, the most difficult part of the pandemic has been watching the number of unvaccinated patients suffering and dying needlessly. I implore everyone in the BSOM family to get vaccinated, if you have not already. I feel strongly, and have expressed this belief many times, that for students and physicians who have taken an oath to put the wellbeing of patients and the health of society first, it is a professional obligation. Our hospital partners are now requiring the vaccine, and Wright State Physicians has recently announced it will do the same, in concert with the recent announcements outlining requirements for employers and those accepting federally funded health insurance such as Medicare.
It continues to be a challenging time. I am truly grateful for our faculty, students, staff, and my colleagues on BSOM’s leadership team, as well as President Edwards and our university leaders who continue to work tirelessly to protect our educational mission.
My best wishes for a productive and successful Fall Semester.
Valerie Weber, M.D., M.S.
Dean, Boonshoft School of Medicine