By Gerry Kosanovic, District Governor
Recall it was over a month ago, on July 1st that Governor Brown officially reopened Oregon for business and pleasure after more than 15 months of strict rules to limit the spread of COVID-19. About the same time, President Biden celebrated the emergence “from darkness of a year of pandemic and isolation, a year of pain, fear, and heartbreaking loss.” Regrettably, we may have been done with the virus at that moment, but the virus was certainly not done with us. The rampant emergence of the delta variant has torpedoed our ability to return to the normal routine living.
For the past two years, formal club visits by the District Governor have been largely digital Zoom experiences because of the COVID pandemic. Last month I created a draft District Governor club visitation plan based on data received from club Presidents and Assistant Governors. The in-person schedule was established but never implemented because of the dangerous rise of the delta COVID-19 virus. Thus, at this time, I will continue to maintain a wait-and-see status regarding personal club visitations in District 5110.
This past Friday, August 13, Oregon once again implemented a mandatory mask mandate in public spaces, the National Guard has been mobilized to address personnel shortages in our healthcare system, and students will be required to wear masks and remain socially distanced when schools reopen. Regrettably, while almost 57% of the state’s population has received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine it is well short of the threshold needed for herd immunity. The delta variant is more transmissible and highly contagious. Because vaccinated people can easily transmit it, scientists estimate that the threshold for herd immunity now requires an 85% vaccination rate.
My personal request, then, to all Rotarians – get vaccinated. Protect yourself and others. We know that vaccines are one of the safest and most effective ways to protect people from life-threatening and preventable diseases. Case in point is the polio vaccine. Rotary has advocated, distributed, and administered vaccines to help reduce polio cases by 99.9% worldwide. Vaccines work. Rotary and its partners at the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have also supported COVID vaccine introduction and delivery.
To those who are unvaccinated, I would recommend two things: First, talk to your primary care physician or trusted health care professional–heed their advice. Second, follow the Rotary 4-Way Test, especially the fourth question: “Will it be beneficial for all concerned” if I obtain the COVID vaccine?
I remain hopeful that Rotarians will step up to the plate to protect themselves and others with available vaccines. Rotarians are known to lead by example. It is certainly beneficial to all concerned when we provide service to our communities and once again enjoy in-person meeting fellowship district-wide. I look forward to it.