Rant: Time to be adults again with COVID-19.

Rant: Time to be adults again with COVID-19.

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RANT OF THE DAY: As coronavirus surges, what are we doing about it?

Easily half if not more of us checked out of the coronavirus pandemic almost two months ago. We’ve heard all the reasons why:

  • I can’t handle all the bad news.
  • This is just the Fake News Media spreading fear to sell newspapers (even though we’re online?)
  • We’ve got to move on and reopen the economy.
  • This is no big deal; it is just a major case of the flu.

We understand; we’re tired of it, too. It adds a few extra hours to our work day. We don’t leave home these days without a wallet, car keys, cell phone — and mask. There are extra masks in the car as well. If we dine out, it is cafe-style only. Church is drive-in or tune-in (Facebook Live).

By our estimate, under 30 percent of us are using masks in public — if that many. Even the more vulnerable older population is easing up on recommended use. We doubt strict hygiene practices are still being observed. Even the grocery shelves have disinfectant again — and toilet paper. The meat cases are full, the peanut butter section is packed and except for those directional signs on some store floors, it is mostly business as usual from late February 2020.

Except for one thing: The pandemic never left and, instead, is spreading faster than before.

We’ve now seen three consecutive days of 1,700-plus new coronavirus cases in Georgia. Before this week, the record was 857 cases in a single day, set on April 13.

In Northwest Georgia, we’ve seen 230 new cases in seven days ending Thursday. That’s the largest week-over-week increase since the pandemic began.In Gordon County, positive tests have doubled in under a month, from 142 to 318.

Another stat tracked by Associated Press is the number of pandemic-related hospitalizations in the state. After dipping for more than a month, they’re climbing again. As of Thursday, 1,135 coronavirus patients were hospitalized, up from 960 patients four days earlier. Locally, the number dropped to two total patients in Rome hospitals and now is back up to 10, the highest level since 11 on May 5.

All these numbers get more critical by the day as we draw closer to the new school year. Most school systems are prepared to have in-person instruction, a mix of home and school, or online only. That decision will have to be made in less than a month.

And then here’s the latest from Gordon County. The community’s COVID-19 leaders and educators met this week to discuss returning to class. It was followed with this joint statement: “We look forward to opening all of our schools on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020,” stated Dr. Kim Fraker and Dr. Michele Taylor (the superintendents). “With added safety and preventative measures, we believe we will have a successful re-entry into the schools. Additional information will be provided to all of our students, staff and parents in the coming weeks.”

But a few hours later, Gordon emergency officials posted another note, including this:

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen a much larger increase in cases than what we had been experiencing in Gordon County. Public safety and emergency management personnel have worked diligently to gather information on any potential hotspots or pockets of outbreaks that could be responsible for this increase. Through talking to the local Department of Public Health, our local hospital, and each of our long-term care facilities, we have not been able to identify any particular area of concern at this time based on all information we have received. All local agencies … are prepared to take care of our citizens.”

Again, the number of people testing positive doubled there in under a month. They added four more cases on Thursday.

We’ve seen the Floyd County Courthouse close for 13 days this month. Today, the Public Defender’s Office is closed. A popular YMCA camp on Lake Allatoona in Bartow County is now shuttered for summer because of positive tests there. In Gwinnett County, four high schools report students or staff testing positive during football conditioning.

Plus we’re heading into a major holiday weekend, Independence Day, which means crowds. Good luck getting everyone attending a parade or fireworks display to wear masks and maintain social distancing. We’ll know how all that works out perhaps a week later — which is right about when our school administrators will be making some gut checks on the new year. Sports fans, take note: These next four weeks are just as critical to deciding the fate of college football this fall.

So what do we do? We take this seriously once again. We listen to healthcare professionals, not state and federal politicians, on how to care for ourselves and our loved ones. Above all, we return to practicing some of the basics we learned during the initial weeks of coronavirus.

The only difference between today’s surge and the start of the pandemic is knowledge. We know what we have to do to stay safe. The only question is this: When will we become adults again and take this seriously?


 

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