As of Sept. 21, Yuma County, Arizona’s seven-day average of new COVID cases was 40 per day, less than half as much as the average seen three weeks earlier. In Yuma County, 66% of the population age 12 and over—the age groups currently eligible to receive a vaccine-- is fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is twice as contagious as the original variant that plagued the world last year, and may cause more severe illness in those who have not received the vaccine.

As of Sept. 22, 30 of the 33 hospitalized COVID patients in Yuma County—91%-- were unvaccinated. Doctors note that the recent spike in COVID cases resulted in significantly fewer hospitalizations locally than during the peak in December of last year, evidence that the widespread vaccination was working. The number of total cases was also far less dramatic than in the days prior to the vaccines: Yuma County’s worst seven-day average in late August was 95 new COVID cases per day, compared to the average of 537 per day registered in mid-December 2020.
As of Sept. 21, Yuma County, Arizona’s seven-day average of new COVID cases was 40 per day, less than half as much as the average seen three weeks earlier. In Yuma County, 66% of the population age 12 and over—the age groups currently eligible to receive a vaccine-- is fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is twice as contagious as the original variant that plagued the world last year, and may cause more severe illness in those who have not received the vaccine.

As of Sept. 22, 30 of the 33 hospitalized COVID patients in Yuma County—91%-- were unvaccinated. Doctors note that the recent spike in COVID cases resulted in significantly fewer hospitalizations locally than during the peak in December of last year, evidence that the widespread vaccination was working. The number of total cases was also far less dramatic than in the days prior to the vaccines: Yuma County’s worst seven-day average in late August was 95 new COVID cases per day, compared to the average of 537 per day registered in mid-December 2020. (Photo Credit: Mark Schauer)
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As of Sept. 21, Yuma County, Arizona’s seven-day average of new COVID cases was 40 per day, less than half as much as the average seen less than three weeks earlier.

In the meantime, aggressive new anti-COVID standard operating procedures (SOPs) began to be implemented.

The Department of the Army announced that active duty units are expected to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15, and National Guard units by June 30, 2022.

Fully vaccinated means that two weeks have elapsed since given the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or after one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Additionally, Department of Defense (DOD) civilians and contractors will eventually be mandated to either be fully vaccinated or be routinely tested for COVID-19 infection to maintain their access to DOD facilities to engage in official business. According to a Sept. 7 memo signed by the Undersecretary of Defense, civilian and contractor employees who refuse both vaccination and recurring COVID-19 screening will be denied access to DOD posts.

YPG senior leaders emphasized that the Department of the Army is still developing an implementation plan consistent with the DOD guidance.

“The Department of the Army has issued an order about vaccinating military service members,” said Col. Patrick McFall, YPG Commander. “We are still digesting that order, more to follow.”

“Nothing is going to be put in place until we get a hard left and right line on what we need to do and how to go forward with this,” added YPG Command Sgt. Maj. Herbert Gill.

According to the memo, the mandate will not apply to so-called “ad hoc access” to DOD facilities, be it by an unaffiliated delivery truck driver or patrons of facilities of public benefit such as the commissary or post museum.

“Those locations will not require proof of vaccination,” said Ron James, YPG Garrison Manager. “However, I don’t want that to be confused with the mask policy: we will continue to have a mask policy in public facilities.”

Likewise, family members who live on post will not be required to show proof of vaccination to access their homes.

In Yuma County, 66% of the population age 12 and over—the age groups currently eligible to receive a vaccine-- is fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is twice as contagious as the original variant that plagued the world last year, and may cause more severe illness in those who have not received the vaccine.

“If you come in sick and expose a whole section to COVID-19, that whole section could go down and we may not be able to complete our test mission as a result,” said Larry Bracamonte, YPG Technical Director. “I think everybody has done an excellent job of following the SOPs and keeping safe because, as of today, we have not had to cancel a test due to COVID infection. We need to be careful because that could potentially happen in the future, though.”

“This is about protecting the force and protecting each other,” added Gill. “The reason we have safety measures and SOPs is because we’ve either seen the potential of something to hurt or kill us, or it has actually happened. The COVID vaccine is an SOP that is being put in place to help protect us and save us from something potentially worse than the side effects of the vaccine, if you even have any.”

The vaccines cannot cause COVID-19, and there is substantial evidence that they prevent COVID infection. Additionally, instances of so-called ‘breakthrough’ infections in individuals who have received the vaccine tend to be less severe than what is experienced by those who are not vaccinated. The reported side effects of the vaccine are mild in the overwhelming number of people who have received them, and according to medical personnel are a positive sign that it is working as intended.

“You want to have a mild reaction to the vaccine—that shows that your immune system is recognizing it and reacting,” said Maj. Ashley Aiton, Officer in Charge of YPG’s Health Clinic. “Every vaccine will have some mild reactions to it.”

As of Sept. 22, 30 of the 33 hospitalized COVID patients in Yuma County—91%-- were unvaccinated. Doctors note that the recent spike in COVID cases resulted in significantly fewer hospitalizations locally than during the peak in December of last year, evidence that the widespread vaccination was working. The number of total cases was also far less dramatic than in the days prior to the vaccines: Yuma County’s worst seven-day average in late August was 95 new COVID cases per day, compared to the average of 537 per day registered in mid-December 2020.

Making the final push to eradicate the pandemic more difficult is the persistence of misinformation on social media. YPG’s senior leaders urged members of the YPG Family to get their information from trusted sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and other links found at https://www.yuma.army.mil/corona.html.

“The information that a lot of people are forming opinions on may not necessarily be information from a credible source,” said Gill. “It’s almost like people are inadvertently causing a disinformation campaign on themselves.”

“I would recommend not using TikTok or Facebook as your reference source, but good medical articles, good research articles that have a wide base of study, not just 100 people,” added Aiton. “Look at who is sponsoring the article as well.”