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December 4, 2023

Hazel Hawkins ER director reflects on importance of shelter order

The head of the emergency department at Hazel Hawkins reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday and reemphasized the danger of letting the spread continue unheeded. 

“Sometimes, we lose perspective: Why are we doing all this?” Dr. Michael Bogey told county supervisors during a local update on the coronavirus in San Benito County. 

He said for the first time in over 100 years – the Spanish flu pandemic was in 1918 – “We’ve seen something that could potentially shut down the health care network of our nation.” 

While some naysayers downplay the seriousness of COVID-19 and compare it to the flu, health experts have strongly rebutted those arguments time and time again by pointing out several points – such as the death risk, rapid spread, and lack of treatments or a vaccine. From a broader perspective, though, it’s well known now that healthcare systems could be unequipped to handle a surge of patients, while such an influx could also leave other ailments untreated. 

“Any need for health care, we couldn’t have met that with this pandemic,” Bogey said, speaking about a theoretical larger surge in patients in the event communities did not implement strict shelter in place orders. 

San Benito County had 39 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 11 a.m. Tuesday with two deaths. Other communities with higher concentrations of people – metropolitan areas such as New York – have experienced higher rates of death. 

“That was the goal of all this shelter in place – was to slow that down,” he said. 

County officials Tuesday began talks on what it might look like to reopen the local economy and lift some shelter in place restrictions at some point when it’s clear the community is on the downside of the spread. 

Supervisor Jim Gillio called Bogey’s comments “powerful” due to the potential for more lives lost from the disease.