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Good news, but let’s not backslide

In the midst of rising coronavirus cases in Carter County, there was a bit of good news last week. The Bonnie Kate Theater opened its doors with a concert from the band AllSkate on July 11. Saturday, “Mary Poppins” played, and this Saturday, “Spiderman” will be shown at 4 p.m. followed by “The Hunt for Red October” at 7 p.m.
While there were only about 25 persons present for the initial showing, the plan is to continue playing classic and family movies on weekends. Additionally, there will be live concerts and plays coming soon.
Jeff Treadway, a board member, acknowledged that many people are still reluctant to attend movies, but he wants people to know Bonnie Kate is back. The goal is to make the Bonnie Kate a destination in downtown.
All of this is great news to Elizabethton residents. Albeit, crowds will be smaller than in the past, with some people still wary about going out in public. But everything is being conducted safely, with guidance by the Carter County Health Department and the Tennessee Department of Health. Participants must wear a mask and observe social distancing. Also, temperatures will be taken upon entry.
At the theater, there are limits as to how many people can be inside the building at one time.
The main thing for us to remember is that, even though we can leave our homes and enjoy activities that haven’t been available for several months, we need to remain vigilant about wearing a mask and social distancing.
Personnel at the Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Department emphasize that research continues to show the value of face masks.
“We know masks can help protect us in the community,” Dr. David Kirschke, Medical Director, said. “The research shows that if you have a mask on and I have a mask on, we’re protecting ourselves from each other.”
He added, “Even if the masks are worn poorly, it’s better than not having a mask on.”
Research also has demonstrated that in communities where people wear masks the spread of the virus has been reduced significantly, Kirschke said.
Yet, some stores such as Food City and Ingle’s, reported this week that many of their customers are not wearing masks. However, both stores are now mandating masks, if you shop there. Also, stores such as Walmart, Sam’s Club and Lowe’s have announced plans to begin requiring customers to wear masks starting this week.
It’s hoped that this will help turn our country around as many areas where businesses and events have been resuming operations, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased greatly.
In Tennessee, which until recent days had been a bright spot in holding down the number of COVID-19 cases, has been reporting increased numbers of infections. It’s even more true of Northeast Tennessee, where 129 new cases were reported Monday. Of that number, 26 new cases were reported in Carter County. As of Monday, Carter County had 144 active cases. This is more on any single day since the pandemic broke out in early March.
We must be vigilant. We must do better.
We must know that when we go out, whether it be to the grocery store, to the Bonnie Kate for a show, or to Walmart, and even to church, that if we wear a mask, we will be protected from the coronavirus. But, our vigilance needs to spread beyond these places.
The coronavirus is not a hoax, and it is not going to go away anytime soon.
Wear a mask whenever you will be around people. Kirschke described wearing a mask as “essential.”
In some states, they’re mandated. In Tennessee, it’s a personal choice. However, we know that personal choices and the community working collaboratively is what’s going to get us through this pandemic, get our children back to school, open our churches up fully and get us back to what we had in January and February.