The danger of COVID-19 decreases when we all do our part

I spent eight days in the hospital with COVID-19. The virus and an accompanying bout of pneumonia put me in grave danger. I am here today only because of the exceptional care I received at a local hospital. I owe my life to the doctors, nurses, and support staff who made it their mission to save me.

In addition to opening my eyes to the tragedy of this pandemic, the experience gave me an insider’s look behind the closed doors of our medical centers, where visitors are rarely permitted today for safety reasons. I saw a hospital overrun. Beds lined up rail to rail in the hallways. Staff under unbelievable pressure.

Thankfully, my care team never wavered in the face of these challenges. Medical professionals prayed with me and over me, like angels dressed in PPE. The hospital ensured supplies, such as oxygen, were always at the ready. The intensive care unit treating me was a miracle of medical technology. All of these advantages came together to support me, as Nevada’s hospitals have done for thousands of other COVID-19 patients over the past year.  I also want to acknowledge the incredible support I have received from my wife Shannon and son Jacob, Mayor Goodman and my colleagues at Share Village/Veterans Village as I have continued to recover.   

I recognize that my gratitude only piles atop the other effusive praise that’s been extended to health care workers across the nation. That’s why I would like to urge every Las Vegas resident to do more than just say “thanks.” We can help our local hospitals and frontline medical personnel with one simple action—getting vaccinated as soon as we qualify. 

Each of us owes nothing less to the essential personnel who have worked double shifts, skipped weekends and vacation time, endured incredible stress every day, and in some cases, even quarantined from family in their own homes to protect high-risk loved ones. Their sacrifices have been above and beyond. How could any of us refuse the urgent request by these heroes that we receive the Covid-19 vaccine?

Fortunately, Southern Nevada may already be witnessing the benefits of the early stages of the vaccination roll-out. After two successive peaks near 2,000 diagnoses per day, Clark County’s case count is finally dropping. This is happening at the same time vaccination is pressing further into our communities, with more than 1,000,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine administered in Nevada as of this writing.

Of course, we still have a long way to go and must remain on guard. New COVID-19 variants are proving more transmissible and could drive upswings in case numbers if we aren’t vigilant about mask wearing and social distancing. We should nonetheless take heart that continued caution in our day-to-day lives combined with widespread vaccination can steadily reduce the risk of Covid-19 for everyone, ease the burden on our hospitals, and ultimately end this pandemic once and for all.

I went through COVID-19, so take it from me—you want no part of this virus if you can avoid it, especially now that community-wide protection via herd immunity lies just around the corner. Please, take steps to safeguard yourself and your family and, when your group is called, get your vaccine. 

Arnold Stalk is the founder of Veterans Village Las Vegas, a 501 (c) nonprofit
organization that provides affordable housings for homeless veterans. He has more
than four decades of experience in the public and private real estate sector and
previously worked at the City of Las Vegas Housing Division. Mr. Stalk received his
Bachelor and Master’s degrees in architecture from Southern California Institute of
Architecture (Sci-Arc) and holds a PhD.