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AS WE SEE IT: COVID care continues

Carter County’s COVID numbers on Monday were sitting at 1,735 positive cases for the county. Of those 1,498 had been released. Another 202 were isolating at their residence. Seven had been hospitalized. Two were in a nursing home. 

The county had 26 deaths of people who tested positive for COVID. 

For a county with a population of just under 27,000 that’s pretty significant. It means just under six and a half percent of the county has had COVID, though that number is probably higher since there are undoubtedly folks who became sick with a mild case of the virus and never got tested. 

The confirmed COVID deaths are a smaller number. A tenth of a percent. It isn’t a big number when you’re just doing the math. But for the families who have lost loved ones to the disease, the impact is incalculable. 

And with more than six percent of the population having had the virus at some point, it means your chances of encountering someone who has been infected – 6 out of every 100 people you come across – is fairly high. If you leave your house at all, chances are likely that at some point you’ve undoubtedly been in close contact with someone who had or has had the virus. 

The health department says with the rate of infection, Carter County is in the “red zone” for the past week.

Despite these numbers, which, granted, don’t tell you a lot about the real impact on real people and the real risks of an infection, you can still regularly see people out and about in our communities without masks or face shields. In the gas station, the dollar stores, at the grocery – even though they all have signs up saying masks are required – folks come and go without bothering to put on a mask. Even when masks are offered for free at the door, folks will come in without putting one on. 

This puts the burden on the employees to try to enforce the notices, and potentially get into an argument with a customer. This is unfair to them for various reasons.

None of us like wearing masks. They are uncomfortable. If you wear glasses they fog them up. For those who are hard of hearing – especially if they read lips – it makes it hard to understand folks. And it’s one more thing to have to remember before you head out to the store or the pharmacy or to pay bills. 

We all want a return to normal.

But the longer we all refuse to wear masks, the longer it is going to take to return to normal. 

The county is distributing vaccines as quickly as they can, but they only receive so many vials of vaccine each week. They will receive a big shipment of vaccines for teachers and other school employees soon, but that still leaves thousands of people to get the vaccine. Trying to vaccinate tens of thousands of people 100 doses at a time isn’t a quick process, no matter how you try to count it. 

We know masks aren’t a full proof way to avoid the virus. But if everyone wears one, the spread will be reduced simply because the droplets of saliva from talking and coughing and sneezing will be more contained. 

Remember you don’t necessarily wear the mask to keep from getting the virus. You wear the mask so that, if you have the virus and don’t know it, you don’t give it to others. 

So, we implore you, listen to the advice of the health department. Listen to the advice of our judge executive. Help us get back to normal and wear your masks. 

We’re tired of talking about this too. We want to write editorials about other things. We want the focus of our fiscal court stories to be on road repairs. We want the EMS stories to be about something other than how COVID is leading to out of control overtime costs. 

We want the county to get back to normal. And we don’t want any more families to have to worry about the costs that 26 of our families have already had to pay. 

But we can’t do it if everyone doesn’t do their part, put on their masks, and help the county slow the spread while we wait for more vaccines to be manufactured and distributed. 

So please, wear your mask. It’s a very simple thing you can do, if not for yourself, for the other people in your community. So that no other family has to go through the tragedy too many have already had to endure. 

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