Sun Up with Dr. Osterholm Transcript
Slide presentation with Terri Banaszewski’s webcam feed inset in the upper right corner. Text, Sun Up with Sunrise Banks.
Good morning. Welcome to our Sun Up with Sunrise during this holiday week. I’m Terri Banaszweski vise president of the business development at Sunrise Banks, here in St Paul. As I watch the sun rise over St Paul out my window here.
So we hope all of you will have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, and are happy to have you tuned in this morning for this great conversation. Some news for Sunrise Banks, we are currently collecting donations for Toys for Tots, which is a national program at all of our branches, during our regular lobby hours, which are 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday.
We are also locally collecting for Keystone community services, which is a local non-profit organization, and we’re doing a food drive for them in our lobby. So you can find both of those donation boxes in any of our locations of Sunrise Banks. Please stop by and drop off any donations at any time during lobby hours over the next three weeks. And we really appreciate your support helping these community programs.
Some updates from a few of our departments– on our SBA front, small business administration loans have been strong through 2021. Funding for the SBA program has enhancements this year for loans under $350,000. We were recognized earlier this year as a top lender in the state of Minnesota by the Minnesota district office for the number of loans that we closed.
New slide, text, Bank Business Updates. Branch location Holiday Toy Drive, New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), SBA Updates, Mortgage. Terri Banaszewski — Vice President, Business Development. Rick Beeson– EVP, Corporate Development and Government Relations.
And currently, we’re working on forgiveness for PPP loans. We’re active with that and 75% complete on those PPP loans that borrowers use Sunrise Banks so if you haven’t applied yet please reach out for a unique link for the forgiveness.
Secondly, our new markets tax credit program is moving and strong. We were recently awarded another new markets tax credit allocation for the third year in a row. We’re always looking for new community development-focused projects within the metro area, and this allocation allows us even greater bandwidth continue funding those projects.
We’re happy to visit with any customers about potential projects that qualify no matter what stage of the process you’re in. So please reach out to myself or your banker if you’d like to find out more about new markets tax credits. Another addition to our lending line is we’re interested in expanding our pace for green energy program lending and our bankers would be happy to talk about those projects as well.
Finally, we also have a robust residential program of mortgage lending. We have a full array of products, and our home ready mortgage program, which offers a lower down payment option. So feel free to reach out again to myself or our mortgage lending team for more details on the mortgage. So again. Have a great holiday week now I would like to turn the program over to Rick Beeson and Dr. Osterholm take it away, Rick.
New slide, Text, A Conversation with Dr. Michael Osterholm. Terri’s webcam feed.
Thanks, Terry. Good morning viewers, and thank you Sarah and other bank staff for helping make this production a reality, as we host the setup with Sunrise virtual breakfasts that bring leaders of our community in to talk about major issues. I do want to remind folks that they can submit questions on the Q&A feature online. We’ll get to those as we get into the program.
And I would like to welcome Dr. Osterholm. We really appreciate some of your valuable time this morning to be with Sunrise customers. You’re a world renowned epidemiologist from our own University of Minnesota, of course, and you’ve done a remarkable job in helping. You make yourself available to– hundreds of times in front of millions of people around the world on matters of public health in general, and specifically, of course, with COVID.
Formally, you’ve got a day job. You’re director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the U and you check those boxes of research, outreach, and teaching that are critical as an academic. So without any further ado, why don’t I turn this over to you, Dr. Osterholm, and you can make some introductory comments on exactly where we are with this COVID disease as we enter the holiday season. Good morning.
Dr. Osterholm’s webcam feed replaces Rick’s.
Well, thank you very much. Thanks for having me. And I appreciate the opportunity to share a few moments with you, and provide an update. I’ve got a couple of disclosures first that I need to make. I think that will help put things into perspective.
Number one, I quite honestly believe I probably know less about this virus today than I did six to 12 months ago. And the more we learn, the more we realize we have a lot left more to learn. So you can take all my comments in that regard.
The second thing is that when I wake up every morning, two things happen. One is I look over at my nightstand, and I see my crystal ball and overnight. It has accumulated five inches of the most crusted mud you’ve ever seen. And so every morning, my first job is to clean that crystal ball and see what I can do with it.
Split screen of Rick Beeson and Dr. Osterholm’s webcam feeds.
The second thing that happens every morning is I wake up with a tune, humming in my head. And for the couple of you who are on the screen are old enough to remember in the 1960s, the fifth dimension. They had a song called, This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius. And I wake up now hearing, this the song saying, this is the dawning of the age of the variants. These new mutated viruses that have surely impacted dramatically the potential for this virus to spread worldwide, and unfortunately, the damage that it’s doing.
So let me just start off by saying, back in January of 2020, our group was already on top of this issue of what was happening in China. And in fact, we published our first article in on December 30 of 2019. And early on, recognized the potential for this to cause a pandemic.
And it was quite evident to us. In fact, in January the 20th of 2020, almost two years ago now. We actually put out a document saying this would cause the next global pandemic. I think the world really didn’t have a sense of what was about to come. And even for some of us who spent our careers thinking about what will happen with a pandemic of a respiratory virus like in this case, coronaviruses or influenza.
And on March the 10th of 2020, I was on the Joe Rogan podcast, which for some of you, you don’t know what that is. And it was a remarkable day, in that over 15 million people downloaded that in the first hour after it was up. And at that time, I had suggested– predicted that this thing would last at least 18 months or more. And that at least 480,000 people would die in those 18 months.
Well, I was wrong. It’s really lasting more than 18 months by a long shot. And instead of 480,000 deaths, we had over 600,000 deaths in that first 18 months here in the United States. And with that kind of willingness to kind of look forward– let me say, today I’m willing to do that for you too, with the understanding that what I’m sharing with you is not necessarily what you want to hear, but I think it’s a time when we just have to understand what’s going on.
And what I mean by that is globally, this virus has a lot of human wood left to burn as a coronavirus forest fire. You’re seeing what’s happening in Europe right now, where there’s widespread transmission. They are now seeing some of the darkest days they’ve seen in the entire pandemic. And this is in countries that have 75% to 80% of their population vaccinated. We in this country have 59% of our population fully vaccinated.
And so let me just say that we’re still in the soup for some time to come, here even. These surges that take off with the virus, like we’ve seen with this new variant called Delta, which is much more infectious, and is capable of producing more severe illness.
This is a situation where it emerged in the United States and the Ozarks in late July at a time when everyone else in the country wanted to declare the pandemic over and independence from COVID. And you saw what happened. Then moved into the southern sunbelt states and into the southeastern states and then moved up the Atlantic coast up until almost in Pennsylvania, and then it seemed to stop.
But then, at the same time, we saw the surge emerge in the Western United States, particularly the, Northwest and then moving into the mountain– northern mountain regions. And then, in mid-to-late September, taking off in the upper Midwest.
Well, there have been two kinds of surges that have occurred with Delta. One where we see this very rapid increase in cases, dramatic. And then within a week to 10 days, it levels off, and then drops precipitously and goes back to almost baseline.
Then we have the type of surge that we’ve seen most recently in the United Kingdom, which started off in July from 1,000 cases a day to– rising rapidly to 53,000 cases a day. And then starting that same drop and everyone was feeling like OK we’re going back down to baseline, hopefully 1,000 cases. It levels off at 23,000. And then, it comes back again. Back into the low $50,000 range, and has persisted now literally since July in the United Kingdom
That’s where we’re at in the upper Midwest right now we. Saw our surge emerge in mid to late September, went up, started coming down in early to mid October, people are breathing a sigh of relief, and now, we’re really in tough shape. Right now, Michigan and Minnesota have the two highest incidence rates in the country in terms of infections. And this is a real challenge in terms of what’s happening with our health care services here.
When we look at where this is going, I think we still have– unfortunately, more cases are going to be coming in over the next week or two that will make that number rise even higher. Our percentage of positives on testing is rising. And we’re seeing it around the state. And we have counties right here in Minnesota that are just a little over 40% vaccinated. So we clearly have a challenge with the unvaccinated populations.
Now, if you look at what’s happened in the United States, the Northeast has lit up. From Massachusetts northward, Vermont and New Hampshire are now seen major increases in cases. And these are two of the most highly vaccinated states in the country. And it gives you an idea of the challenge we have that kind of good is not nearly good enough with this virus.
You can’t wait out the game here. If you’re not vaccinated or have protection from previous infection, eventually this virus will find you. And that’s what’s happening.
On top of that, we are realizing that in fact the durability of the protection from the vaccines is limited to the extent that five, six months, we start seeing post your second doses for mRNA or even one dose for J&J may even be within two months. You start seeing a drop in protection.
These vaccines are remarkable tools, they’re highly effective. But the question is, how long do they last? And that’s why now today, we’re making such a strong emphasis on everyone getting a booster dose 6 months after their second dose of the mRNA vaccines from Moderna or Pfizer or two months after having had the single dose of J&J.
And the big challenge we’re going to have is what does this mean going forward? Will we have to continue to give booster doses every six months? We don’t know. But the bottom line is it’s there. From a global standpoint, let me just say that right now, we’ve seen cases oscillate between about somewhere about 2.5 million a week reported to over 5 million a week.
Right now, the vast majority of cases in the world are coming from Europe and the United States. That will change. We will see it hit other countries again. We have many countries around the world that have much, much lower vaccination rates and have actually even with ongoing surges, still have a lot of susceptible people. I’ll just give you one that I have followed very closely, Iran.
After they had their second big surge of COVID, everyone said they hit this concept called Herd Immunity. Now people had been infected and protected now with immunity, it wouldn’t circulate. Then they had a third surge, now they had herd immunity. And then they had a forth surge. They now have herd immunity. This past summer, they had a fifth surge, and it was the largest of all the surges they’ve had with the most number of deaths associated with Delta.
And so again, this virus will just keep coming back and coming back and coming back. I look at countries– Vietnam, Thailand, areas of major economic relationships, where we’re seeing 30% to 35% of the population vaccinated. Look at a continent like Africa, where only 6% of the population vaccinated. We are going to have ongoing problems.
The other thing I think that from an economic standpoint, that may be of interest to you is what’s going on in China. China is the one country in the world, along with Taiwan– but China is in a very different situation population-wise has decided, they have a zero COVID policy. Meaning, they are not going to accept any COVID at all. They’re willing to shut down major port cities for two to three weeks to drive down even a few cases of COVID in that environment.
And we are already seeing the challenges that that’s posed to commerce, to manufacturing, to supply chain movement– what’s happening in China. I don’t believe that they can continue to sustain a zero-COVID policy without ruining their economy. And we’ll have to wait and see. But I think that from a global standpoint, as much as there appears to be some relief coming with the supply chain challenges we’ve had at the ports and so forth, I think China is still really a major unanswered question about what will happen there.
Will their national pride after having gone through Wuhan and the original outbreak stick with the zero carbon policy, meaning they’ll shut down a 20 million population center for weeks, just to make sure that they stop COVID transmission. So we’ll see.
So to sum it up right now, this is a rough time in Minnesota. Our health care system is virtually breaking in places. It’s not just bending, it’s breaking. This past week, we’ve had days where we’ve had over 60 hospitals in the state that did not have one Med surg that open. We are critically short of staff.
We’ve had already a challenge with staffing when the pandemic began in terms of the number of people employed. This pandemic has taken a heavy toll, particularly on our intensive care areas, our emergency areas. And we’ve seen a major loss of staff who have just left to retire– who decide to get into another line of work. They can’t do this anymore, which has only compounded the challenges we have.
So right now in Minnesota, it’s not just a challenge having COVID, it’s a challenge having a heart attack. It’s a challenge having a stroke. It’s a challenge being in an automobile accident, in terms of what kind of quality of care that you can get. And I think that most people don’t see that.
In Minnesota, I think we’re pretty well done with the pandemic in the minds of many. But the virus isn’t done with us at all, and that’s a challenge. I don’t know how we share with the public what’s happening, and the hospitalizations and the case numbers. Just to give you some sense of Minnesota, this past week our incidence was so high in Minnesota, had we been a country, we would have been in the top 10 countries in the world for number of cases of COVID per population, think about that. In the top-10 in the world.
And yet, if you ask most people in Minnesota, they’d tell you it’s over with. And so this is the disconnect we have right now, and one that as we go into the holiday season, where we’re going to have more people getting together. And what that means, is going to be a real challenge. And so, we’ll see from there.
But I have to tell you that right now, this thing is far from done. I think this surge we’re in right now will eventually come down, hopefully by the holidays in terms of Christmas. But don’t be surprised if we see another surge next spring– That we have more than enough people in this state to start still susceptible.
And we’ve got to get people with their booster doses because we’re seeing an increasing number of people who are having these breakthroughs, which we know that these vaccines can be powerful tools if they’re used according to what we now know provides protection. So with that, I will leave it there and happy to take any questions or comments, and I’ll turn it back over to you.
Thanks, Dr. Osterholm. That’s sobering, but we appreciate your opinion. You’re right, almost 20 years ago. And when you wrote a New York Times bestseller about the pandemic. And you predicted this spring that we could very well see a variant. So we do trust– I trust your ability to forecast. And feels like– tell me if I’m wrong– this could be a three to five year situation that we’re going to be dealing with, not just next year. Any thoughts about [INAUDIBLE]?
I think the challenge we have right now is trying to understand how durable this immunity or protection is. If we have to vaccinate people every six to 10 months, we’re in trouble because it isn’t going to happen. I mean, we have a hard time vaccinating people once a year for influenza around the world. And that if you look at the population of 7 billion plus, we only produce $1.5 billion doses of influenza vaccine once a year. And that’s a challenge that many people are vaccinated.
So I’m concerned that trying to predict the future beyond this next six to eight months is going to be a challenge I liken it to– this is evolving science. We implement, we study, we learn from that, implement again. We just try to keep getting better and better. And as I said, these vaccines are great tools.
But now that we know that their protection may be relatively short-lived, and we’re going to need to potentially use boosters. The question is going to be, well, if you give three shots, maybe that is enough to sustain it for some time. And so we just don’t know.
So what it’ll be like in one year or two years and three years, I’ll tell you for certain it’ll still be here. The question is, will it become just part of our everyday lives like influenza? We lose 30,000 to 50,000 people a year in this country from influenza.
We don’t shut down. we don’t close schools, necessarily. The masking isn’t there. We haven’t had many of the politicized aspects of this, so the question will be, what will be the endgame with this pandemic? And how it will play out and people accept, I just don’t know.
So Dr. Osterholm, we have many small business owners and leaders of non-profit organizations who are impacted by the president’s call for vaccinations and/or weekly testing starting in January. I assume you do support that. And I know in Minnesota, if that’s implemented that we could reach a million and a half additional people with the virus. And just talk a little bit about from a business standpoint, what your view is on that National policy.
Well, first of all, I just have to say. I have to– Rick, I want to keep calling your Region. So I hope you– even though you’re a [? Maritime ?] I hope that’s all right because that’s how I know you, so [INAUDIBLE]
The challenge we have right now, we’re living in a time that I’ve never experienced in my adult life. The body politic of this country is so in trouble right now. And COVID is just one of the points of causing that kind of situation to occur.
And so I’m highly sensitive to– public health by its very nature has to rely on the public willingness to participate and help protect itself. Mandates from the standpoint of personal choice, people can say, you can’t tell me what to do. But you know, when you look at the greater good for the community, we do that all the time. You just can’t go get into a car intoxicated and go drive and say it’s my right to do so. You know, it’s my car my life because of the risk you pose to the community.
The issue around the mandates is actually around the issue of reducing transmission to others, and being in a place where, in fact because you’ve been vaccinated, and even with the breakthroughs, we know the transmission is dramatically reduced when we have a highly vaccinated population.
And unfortunately have many people in our society today who can’t fully benefit from the vaccines because they have underlying immune conditions. For example, if you look at organ recipients, people who have had kidneys livers lungs and hearts. If you look at people who’ve had stem cell. These vaccines are only about 50% effective at best in reducing serious illness and death.
These people have to everyday be on guard about getting infected. Well, one of the ways that happens is if you just have fewer people in the community who are infected and infectious, you protect the population. I can go through a laundry list of people who benefit from having much less transmission in our society. And so to me that’s the Clarion message here is that this is about trying to protect the community.
But the other thing about it is as hard as it is in businesses– and I understand, I’ve listened, I’ve heard from so many of you. The challenge here is though, that once you have a vaccinated workplace, people feel more confident coming back to work. And this has been a challenge of trying to find workers. In the workforce right now and small businesses have been severely challenged.
And what we’re seeing over and over again, people are concerned yet about coming back to work because of safety among a number of other issues. And so I think that if you want to move forward, you want to get business back on its feet, and you want to maintain continuity.
A much more vaccinated workforce is going to be what’s going to keep driving these numbers down. And keeping that workforce vaccinated over time, will guarantee you that you’re going to have many, many fewer problems about infections and transmission in your workforce.
So yeah, I do support them. I think that it’s an important issue. Just as I’ve supported mandates for childhood immunizations in schools for decades, I support this one too
So Dr. Osterholm, would you then suggest that there’s this push-pull going on between people going back to the office and/or not? The article in The Wall Street Journal about larger corporations are beginning to increase the numbers of people going back to work. And certainly, downtown Minneapolis as an example, needs population– working population back. But thinking that it makes sense not to encourage people back in the office through the holidays and into the first quarter or?
Well, yeah, again, it comes back to vaccination status. If you have an up to date vaccinated population, meaning that in that first six months after you have the two doses, the vaccines remain highly effective. And if in fact you are otherwise not at increased risk for serious illness, get back to work now, that’s fine. I think respiratory protection can add additional benefits.
Unfortunately the masking issue also become very politicized. If you just put a face cloth curving in front of your face you may get 20% protection, that’s all. And yet we call that masking. If you really want to protect people, you put them in N95 respirators, or the masks that is tight face fitting, and has a material that allows the air to be filtered as it comes through it to take out the virus.
If you do that in a work setting, you can have a very high degree of comfort that you are safe there as you’re going to be anywhere coming back to work. If you don’t have that, then you’re going to have outbreaks. You’re going to have people getting infected at the workplace. You’re going to have people who are going to feel very uncomfortable being in that work setting because of somebody else who may get infected and that’ll cause great disruption.
So I think again it’s how you encourage your workforce to be protected, and what that means in bringing them back. So I’m not suggesting with this surge you have to delay getting people back if they’re protected.
Thank you. We’re going to open up some questions here in a minute. I’ve got, though there is some room for some optimism. And as a research professor and for myself as a former regent I know that America’s universities are doing a lot of work right now on vaccination research. And there will be breakthroughs. And there will be great news I know coming out of these institutions.
Can you talk a little bit about vaccination research? I know there’s been talk about for example, a cancer vaccination is one thing. But both the expected and the expected– the serendipitous sort of breakthroughs that we’re going to see come through with the money that’s going into research right now.
Yeah, well let me just be really frank here. I mean, I’m sitting here right now having lived since 1980 with HIV/AIDS as a major research and public health response issue. I was involved with the very earliest days of HIV/AIDS. And I’m sorry to report that in 2021 we still aren’t that much closer to having a vaccine for HIV/AIDS. And it has to do with how the virus infects the human. How our immune system might interact with that.
We have some challenges with this coronavirus, to know, can we make long term protection possible? We know we can do a short-term. And the challenge is going to be, what is the durability? If you look at other coronaviruses that cause seasonal respiratory problems. You look at two viruses called SARS and MERS, severe acute respiratory distress syndrome and Middle Eastern respiratory distress, which was the Coronaviruses that happened in 2003 and 2012 in parts of the world.
In each instance there, protection may be somewhat short lived. And so our challenge is not going to be can we in the short term protect people, but will we as a public health community be able to get people vaccinated multiple times throughout the course of their life with this. And if we don’t, what does that mean?
So I think if there’s any breakthrough that’s going to be in trying to understand, and if possible develop vaccines that give us durability, long-term protection. And vaccines that might even do a better job of protecting those that I mentioned earlier who are immune compromised, or have underlying health conditions that would put them at greater risk. So I don’t know when that’s coming, and if it will come. But it currently is as you pointed out [INAUDIBLE], we’ve got a lot of research going on in that area.
The second thing, though that is I think a bright light is the issue of what we call small molecule drugs– those kind of pills you can take. And we have two products that are working their way through the regulatory process right now, one from Merck and one from Pfizer. There’s at least two other companies that will be shortly coming forward with such products.
And these look to be potentially game changers if you can get the confirmation of your infection and start taking the drugs within the first hours of your infection. And that’s a challenge in and of itself. How do you make sure that you are really treating someone who has COVID? So we have to do a much, much, much, much better job at our testing programs, and then second of all, making sure we can get the drug to those people quickly.
And the data are clear and compelling. These drug treatments if started early, can substantially reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and death. And so this is going to be, I think where I see probably the most positive impact coming in the near term in terms of outcome. If we can turn many of these severe cases into much milder cases, that’s going to help us a lot.
But at this point, system-wise, we’re still a long ways from there. I mean, even though we have these great vaccines I’ve been talking about as I just mentioned, only 6% of the African continent has that had any access to vaccine at all. Many of the low and middle income countries around the world still are well below 30% to 35% of the population vaccinated. And so this is going to be a challenge as twofold is one to have the tools, but the second of all to get the tools to the people that need them in a timely and effective way.
So staying in Minnesota Dr. Osterholm, one of the questions is, is this primarily hitting certain parts of the state, or certain demographic characteristics income? I mean, is it predictably low income people, people of color, greater Minnesota? What does the data look like in Minnesota as you drill down?
Yeah, well, first of all, one of the things that’s happened that has had a substantial impact on what we call the epidemiology of this infection– how it spreads in the community is with the alpha variant that emerged in the UK back in late last year, and then spread to some states, including Minnesota and Michigan last April. We saw new enhanced transmission in kids we’d never seen before. Meaning that prior to that, kids could get infected, but they only got infected infrequently. And they very often didn’t have real severe disease and people took away the conclusion then that this wasn’t a problem for kids.
And then delta came along, outrunning alpha and it was much more infectious than alpha. And suddenly, we saw kids were just as much at play with this virus as were adults. And we have seen now, just with this Delta surge, over 10,000 kids around the country who have been hospitalized, a third of them in ICUs.
And just since the surge started in mid-summer, delta has– COVID Delta variant has been the number five cause of death in kids, five to 11 years of age. That’s changed things a lot. And so right now, we’re living in a real challenge situation. we have many schools right now who are seeing huge outbreaks– lots of outbreaks.
You’ve already heard the [INAUDIBLE] school shut down today. And tomorrow, going into the holidays just to try to relieve the growing number of cases there. I’m hearing constantly from schools around the state, around the whole state of massive transmission issues in kids. Well, that’s important because not only is it about the kids. But they are then a way of spreading the virus to their parents and their grandparents. And so that we’re seeing really enhanced transmission around the state from kids to adults.
And then on top of that, we have a lot of under-vaccinated populations, even though 70 plus in the state of Minnesota are vaccinated. We have at least four or five counties in Central Minnesota where it’s in the 40% level. And so if you start looking at these pockets of under-vaccinated, they’re more than sufficient for this virus just to keep roaring away. And that’s what’s happening right now.
So I can’t say it’s just one socioeconomic status group. It’s not one social environment. It’s not one access issue. I think the Minnesota Department of Health, with its partners have done an amazing job trying to get vaccines to every possible nook and cranny in the state of Minnesota. It’s about who is willing to take the vaccine, is who will get it.
And this has been a painful situation to watch. And if I had a nickel for every time I’d heard about a story where someone just as they were being intubated in an ICU, and not likely to either talk again ever, if they didn’t make it, or for some months, potentially weeks at least on mechanical ventilation say, I wish I had been vaccinated. I think that’s the challenge we’re having right now, is helping to break through that.
And in most parts, if you look at this community right now, people don’t have a sense that there’s a pandemic going on. I mean, I think Minnesotans to a certain degree are done with the pandemic, even though the virus isn’t done with them. And so I think this is a real challenge.
The arrival of some federal crisis folks, medical providers to Minnesota leads to one of the questions in the blog here about whether there’s additional resources available in Washington to help deal with the shortage of nurse and other medical providers if this thing does increase further. Are we out of resources at this point to deal with another surge?
Well, first of all, let me just put it in context. As of this morning, if you look at the 14 day average of case incidence in this country, where its increasing 42 states have had significant increases in cases in the last two weeks. So the whole country is in the soup at the same time right now. And so the federal assets have been stretched about as far as they can go. There is no second backup Calvary coming. And I think that we have to understand that.
At the same time we are in a really, what I would call a devolving situation, where the number of people who are working in ICUs who are nothing more than just incredible heroes, same people and emergency departments and hospitals in general. They’re walking off the job because they can’t do it anymore. The post-traumatic stress is just bringing them down.
Now, that’s a challenge because if you’re already short of staffing, and then you have more staff leave because the conditions just keep getting worse, then the staff that stays are even in worse situations, and they then– so I mean it’s a really, for me scary situation. And I don’t think people realize how close we are to breaking in our health care systems, not just bending.
And as I said earlier in my comments, this is not a time you want to have a heart attack or stroke or in an automobile accident. We are deferring all the major surgeries in most places that should be done now, for example, cancer diagnosis or treatment. And yet, they don’t have the staff to do it or the resources.
So this to me has always been one of the greatest challenges we’ve had with pandemic preparedness and planning. And you know what, you can make more beds. You can make more equipment. You can make more a lot of things. But you can’t make overnight more people who are highly trained in these areas.
And I think that’s the message we have to get out. That’s why as a community what we’re doing to protect ourselves also helps protect our community. Every person we don’t have to have in a bed right now is one more opportunity to try to get through this with less pain, less suffering and less death.
Here’s a question about Israel, that they– apparently Israel has become the Guinea pig for the test and the results. Are you seeing– what are you hearing out of that country in terms of other trends or any new information and your response to that.
Actually, several countries. But Israel is clearly one of them, the UK is one of them and it’s another commentary on the United States, frankly. The reason we’re getting so much information from Israel and countries like the United Kingdom is number one, they both were very early into the game of vaccinating.
So if you’re trying to look at what happens over time to perfection. If another country started vaccinating large numbers of their population two months before we did. They got a head start of two months to understand what’s it going to be like at post eight months or post months? Vaccination. So they have been basically a bellwether in that regard.
But actually, the thing that is most, I think important is because they have national health systems. We’re able quickly to link up the data between vaccination and clinical outcome and how that all relates. In the United States, we are still just a piecemeal of disease care delivery systems that often cannot talk to each other. We can’t link up data.
I mean, look right now with this whole thing with vaccination, trying to keep track of who’s been vaccinated and who’s not. I mean, it’s frankly a disgrace where we’re at in this country, where we don’t have the tools to do that. And so our ability to contribute to the understanding of what’s happened to these vaccines and long-term outcomes is in part challenged by the fact that we have a dysfunctional disease care system in this country that largely just is not coordinated across the entire country.
And whereas these other countries where we’re getting the data from all have national health systems that have allowed rapid and comprehensive information to be available.
Well, that is shocking and embarrassing. Like you said, hopefully there is some point there’ll be a commission organized around how to better deal with this from a structure standpoint and staging standpoint and all that.
Question came from– a couple of questions about– and this will be our last question I think before we’ll let Dr. Osterholm come go. I am talking about children and the threat of COVID and other advice should have for young people and families or children and daycare and all that. I think you’ve addressed all that pretty well. But any final comments on the children?
Well, you know, I have to say that I don’t have any children of that age. I have something even more precious. I have five grandchildren at that age. So to me, this is the front and center topic for me. I’ve been fortunate that four of my five grandchildren are of the ages between five and 11 that now can be vaccinated and have had their first doses. I have a granddaughter who is still under five years of age but in daycare.
And I think that one of the challenges we’re all confronting is this week with Thanksgiving, what do we do? We have many families that are trying to come together after having missed last year. And we’re seeing great division right now between families that refuse to be vaccinated. Some that demand that people be vaccinated, and this is going to be a tough week.
You know I had a colleague who is one of the world’s experts in the United States Civil War. He’s a historian who said to me some months ago, You know for the first time in my life I really finally understand what it must have felt like for fathers and mothers to watch half their sons go fight for the North and half of the South.
And it was really about the division that vaccines and testing and follow up have put on us I would just say it for this week, feel empowered to protect yourself. If you’re someone, even if you’re fully vaccinated and you’re uncomfortable because you’re at high risk of having a serious outcome like I talked about, say a transplant recipient. You don’t want to be in a place where you have unvaccinated kids right now, unless those kids have been tested the morning of, and found not to be positive.
I Think this is really hard. People don’t want to hear this. But we’ve had far too many situations where someone brought the virus into a family setting and seven to 10 days later, they’ve got very, very ill older parents, grandparents, et cetera. And so I think everyone needs to think about their Thanksgiving celebrations. And if you can’t all assure that you’re fully vaccinated, then at least you’re sure that the people who are not at least are testing negative, and this would include kids too.
So I know this is not necessarily what you want to hear, but I don’t want any of you have to find out 10 days from now that there was a transmission event that occurred in your family setting, and look what’s happened. And I’ve been on the other end of those. I’ve had to deal with situations where people were shocked and greatly pained by the fact that they were the one that brought the virus in the home that day. And so for this week, just feel empowered.
Well Dr. Osterholm, I want to– first of all, I just want to say this is what professionals and leaders in the area of public health do. This is their work– this is their life’s work and you’ve done Yeoman’s duty on behalf of the people in Minnesota on this. We really appreciate the hard news. We could take it. We’ll internalize it and move forward. But we can’t do it without your information and your direct knowledge and data driven opinion.
So thank you for joining us this morning.
Dr. Osterholm smiles and nods. New Slide, Text, Thank you for joining us! Sun Up with Sunrise Banks.
We’ll let you get on with your day. And folks Sunrise Banks, appreciate your attendance. The bank’s doing extremely well. We’ve got a great growth plan for next year. Business is good. We’re getting a lot of calls from customers that are interested in moving forward with their organizations and expanding and growing and hiring.
So we’re very bullish on the bank and on our customers’ ability to be successful as we go forward here in 2022. So stay in touch with us, and that will conclude the breakfast today. And again, thank you Dr. Osterholm