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New surge in coronavirus reminds us to be vigilant

Coronavirus case counts came down in places, where they had been up. Now, cases are spiking across the country, as well as in Carter County and Northeast Tennessee.
The Tennessee Department of Health announced 72 new COVID-19 cases Monday in Northeast Tennessee, including 13 in Carter County. There was also one new death in the county Monday.
Over the last seven days, Northeast Tennessee has added 756 new cases. During the seven days prior, the region reported 766 new cases. The Tennessee Department of Health reported 131 new cases on Friday, 89 on Saturday, and 87 on Sunday.
Taken together, these statistics should be a warning sign that the pandemic is not over. We all want to return to our everyday activities and spend time with family, friends, and loved ones, but we must be aware that new infections are showing up everyday.
The weather is beginning to be more spring-like, and people are getting out more. More people are getting vaccinated, but we still have a long way to go before we can say we have left COVID-19 behind.
Last spring, when the coronavirus was spreading across the planet, Americans took steps — slow and uneven as they might have been — to bring the first U.S. outbreaks under control. Houses of worship and nonessential businesses closed. People resigned themselves to wearing masks in public. They worked from home if they could, to reduce the risk to those who could not.
The federal government deployed resources to help people stay home. Major league sports suspended games. Broadway suspended plays. Families suspended vacations. Schools closed. Nursing homes and hospitals banned visitors. It was painful, and in some cases devastating — and it was still not enough to stamp out the virus in America.
Still, those steps mattered a great deal. And, we have come a long way since then. But we are not where we need to be. So it matters that we still play it safe. We must remain vigilant and continue to behave responsibly: wear masks, be physically distant in public, wash your hands often, and avoid large crowds. None of these prevention steps will work well alone, but together they make real reductions in the spread of the coronavirus.
The Saturday night car shows have started back. Churches are getting back to normal. People are taking vacations. We must be as cautious as we ever have, even though things are beginning to be normal again.
Statistics show the vaccines are working, as, for the first time since the pandemic began, a higher percentage of people under the age of 65 are not showing up at emergency rooms. Most of the vaccines have gone to people age 70 and older. As more and more vaccines get into the arms of younger people, we should see less cases of COVID-19.
Local health departments are now vaccinating individuals aged 16 and up who wish to receive COVID-19 vaccinations on a first come, first serve basis. Also, appointments are being taken. Vaccinations are available also at Walmart, Ingle’s, Burgie Drug, and Walgreens. We would urge you to get your vaccination, and help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
We must remain vigilant, continue to wear masks when we go out and as much as possible stay out of crowds. The coronavirus is still with us.