Back in April of 2020, we reported that 51st District NY Senator Jim Seward of Milford was getting released from the hospital with a very close brush with death due to COVID-19 complications. It's fair to say, that everyone thought he was on his death bed and then, miracle of miracles, he began to improve and fully recovered. His wife Cindy, also contracted the virus and became ill around that same time (March 2020).

You can imagine how grateful he is to have cheated death from COVID, something that too many can not say. So far, the total number of COVID-related deaths in Otsego County, according to the health department, is at 64 but the case numbers are really beginning to climb on a daily basis at this point with the Delta variant showing its ugly head. The total case numbers in the county right now are 82, with 19 new cases confirmed yesterday.

With concern over rising COVID cases, the now-retired Senator has joined forces with Bassett Healthcare Network to get his message out about how important it is to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine. When Seward and his wife Cindy contracted the coronavirus in March of 2020, vaccines were not yet available. Seward says that at first, his COVID case was mild but within a week the situation changed dramatically and he had to be put on a ventilator and put into a medically-induced coma in the ICU. He says he has no memory of that time when his situation was critical but he vividly remembers the slow, exhausting and painful recovery process following it, after nearly losing his life to the virus.

Seward's message?
"When I say that this is a deeply personal subject, I mean I am profoundly grateful to God and my medical team for getting me through it and that I do not wish this disease on anybody. This is why everyone in my family got a vaccine as soon as they could. If you have been putting off or avoiding a COVID-19 vaccine, I urge you to reconsider and get your vaccine as soon as possible. Vaccines are the best hope of a full return to normal."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta Variant is more contagious than previous variants of COVID-19. Variants arise through mutations as viruses spread. Letting infections continue unchecked by not getting vaccinated opens the door for even more variants that could end up being more contagious, and/or more deadly, and even more resistant to the first vaccines that are currently available. The CDC says that unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern when it comes to the Delta variant which is the predominant variant circulating around the world right now. The ultimate message from the CDC regarding the Delta variant as it relates to vaccines: "The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant. But they are not 100% effective and some fully vaccinated people will become infected (called a breakthrough infection) and experience illness. For such people, the vaccine still provides them strong protection against serious illness and death."

For those who wish to get vaccinated, Bassett Healthcare Network has vaccines available in all of their primary care offices. You can contact your provider to make an appointment for your shot. Many pharmacies offer vaccines now and you can also visit your county's health department web page or Facebook page to gather information on vaccination clinics.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the Delta variant from the CDC's current data.

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