A Message From Focused Care's Founder

Mark McKenzie, CEO

Rising Gas Prices, Billionaires in Space, the Olympics and Fall Sports

I would like to write about any one of those topics and draw clever analogies to what we do every day in long term care.  But I can’t while a fire rages around us. I have to at least encourage all of you that I care so much about – to get the hose and help to put it out.

I just finished reading a story in the Texas Tribune with this headline:

“COVID-19 is spreading fast among Texas’ unvaccinated” 

Here are some facts reported in the story:

  • More than 340 million doses have been given in the U.S., and side effects have been determined by the FDA and independent researchers to be extremely rare and far less substantial than the dangers of getting COVID-19, which has killed more than 52,000 Texans as of Aug. 2.
  • Public health experts say getting as many people vaccinated as possible is the best and fastest way to end the pandemic.
  • 83% of Texans, or 24 million residents, are eligible for the vaccine. With 15 million Texans who have received at least one shot as of Aug. 1, that leaves 9 million eligible Texans who have not gotten their vaccine yet.
  • The state’s vaccination rate places us 36th in the country and has helped drive another troubling wave in the pandemic. COVID hospitalizations in Texas quadrupled in July
  • Contrary to popular belief, big cities are not the rule for being hot spots: Across Texas, the counties with the highest case rates are outside the urban centers.

Why is this happening? Some public health experts say mistrust is the leading cause of vaccine hesitancy and the core of the mistrust usually depends on a person’s culture.

Dr. David Lakey, the chief medical officer of the University of Texas System, says vaccine hesitancy for white conservatives hinges on “distrust of government,” while for Hispanic and Black residents it’s often a “lack of trust in the health care system” because of generations of disparities in health care access.  These demographic groups make up the largest percentage of those who are unvaccinated.  Basically, Texans of all color and culture outside of urban areas and for different reasons are choosing not to vaccinate.

And that choice is allowing greater waves of infections which are causing more hospitalizations and increasing deaths.  I wish I could understand this – but I’m struggling with it.

There is a military tactic called Fire and Movement – we have all seen it recreated in war movies. It involves three phases: Suppression, Advance and Assault.

Suppressive fire keeps an opponent in a defensive posture and limits the enemy’s overall firepower while preventing it from organizing a coordinated counter-attack.

While suppression fire is going on, another unit of soldiers advances to set up a new base of fire. When that is set up, the first unit advances under the cover of the second unit to reach and set up a new base.

The assault happens as a result of the suppression fire and advance of the team and is repeated until the units have closed upon the enemy position.

Vaccination is the Fire and Movement tactic we have to keep this virus from winning, yet many of us are walking out into an open battlefield – and while not maliciously – but certainly effectively – letting the enemy advance.

If you mistrust government – please study the science and independent data on vaccines. If you mistrust the health care system because of generations of being locked out or being provided substandard care – I understand.  But this shot in the arm could save you from grave illness as well as nearly eliminate you from being in the group of people who infect others.

Yes, vaccination is a choice.  But you are part of a family, a team of co-workers or a sports team, a church, a school – a community. If we all provide each other suppression fire, we can advance on this enemy and drive it out.

Please help end the war.


Mark McKenzie

Founder and CEO