This letter by Dr. Grant Niskanen, Sky Lakes Vice President for Medical Affairs and a family medicine physician, was published in the Sunday, May 17, Herald and News.
Open Klamath safely
As Klamath begins to lift the restrictions due to the Covid pandemic, I have several observations. First is that Klamath businesses need to open. The economic impact on Klamath has been devastating. The lucky persons have had their usual pay reduced while others lost jobs with complete uncertainty about their future.
Second is the Covid virus has not mysteriously disappeared. There has been extensive testing in Klamath and the rate of infection is 1-2%. This is a long way from the 60-70% needed for herd immunity, which is needed to prevent spread. To reach herd immunity without a vaccine means approximately 360 Klamath citizens will die. A vaccine that could rapidly give this herd immunity is still probably one year away. There is little treatment for Covid, primarily supportive, meaning they will try to keep you breathing and your heart pumping until your own immunity can fight it off.
Meanwhile, Klamath does need to open but it needs to do so safely. There needs to be a new normal. This new normal needs to include social distancing, six feet or more. Go to Moore Park, play golf, go to the grocery store - just stay six feet apart from each other.
Practice good hand hygiene. Wash hands for 20 seconds, use alcohol gels, sani-wipes for surface touched and avoid touching your face.
Finally, universal masking. There has been confusing and contradictory information regarding masks. It's become politicized. Covid is a respiratory virus. It is spread through talking, singing, sneezing and coughing. Masks prevent the spread of these respiratory secretions. Wearing a mask does not protect you but protects those around you. Masks are uncomfortable but it is a small price to pay if it saves someone life.
We need to open Klamath but need to do so safely with consideration.
Grant Niskanen, Klamath Falls