Believe it or not, COVID is still raging. Take precautions

Published 12:34 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2021

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It seems that some, including those in government, believe that ignoring COVID and doing away with masks and social distancing will cause COVID to go away. Not so.
COVID remains very much with us. In fact, the test positive rate in Northeast Tennessee remains far above the state’s. And the number of COVID patients being treated at Ballad Health continues to climb with 230 patients being treated Monday — 21 more than last Friday. In fact, the case rate in Northeast Tennessee is the highest it has been since September. The Tennessee Department of Health reported 560 new COVID-19 cases in Northeast Tennessee this past weekend — 49 of those cases in Carter County.
The region added 1,885 cases over the past seven days. That total was 1.353 over the previous seven days. Carter County has the 15th highest rate of COVID cases in Tennessee’s 95 counties.
It is no time to let down our guard despite the downplay by Dr. Lisa Piercey, TDH Commissioner, about the region’s growth in new rates. The rates have increased 93 percent since Gov. Bill Lee signed a new COVID law Nov. 12, which is soft on wearing masks and getting vaccines.
Rates have risen 64 percent statewide during the same period, but have remained far below Northeast Tennessee’s during that time. Piercey said THD officials had theorized about potential causes for the wide gap between the region and the state, including an earlier onset of cold weather “or some other factor.”
The new surge in COVID rates is concerning because the death rate from COVID is also up. The region has reported 31 new COVID deaths during the seven days ending Sunday, compared to just 10 over the previous seven days. The seven-day total is the highest since October.
Also, only three counties in Northeast Tennessee have a vaccination rate of at least 50 percent. Carter County’s vaccination rate is still just a tad above 36 percent.
And, you will find you are in the minority if you wear a mask when you go to the grocery store, the Wal-Mart, or even to church.
So, believe it or not, COVID is still raging. You can ignore it if you want to. You can lock into your own beliefs about whether vaccines are really effective and whether there’s really the need for booster shots or whether children really need to get vaccinated or whether you should wear masks indoors and maintain social distancing.
You can do all you can to believe the COVID crisis has passed.
It’s lasted too long, you think in your head. The worst is over. It should be gone by now.
But you can’t ignore the statistics about the upsurge in cases and the frightening rise in hospitalizations and deaths as we hunker down for another winter indoors.
You can wish it wasn’t happening. But you can’t wish it away.
You might not be taking it seriously. You might think your antibodies or natural immunity will protect you. You might think your being vaccinated means you can’t spread it to others who are more vulnerable. You might think that Round 2 of this pandemic isn’t as bad as Round 1 was.
But you might be wrong. And you might just be lucky.
The fact of the matter is that it is affecting people. It is real to many people.
Many people are very sick from this. Many people are suffering on respirators. Many people are dying from this. Many people are losing loved ones, just like before.
If you don’t personally think masks work, put one on anyway. It won’t hurt you, and it may help keep someone from getting sick.
Keep your distance from people, especially elderly people.
Avoid large indoor gatherings where the disease can spread quickly to many people.
Honor mask mandates and requests by businesses and other venues to put it on. Don’t give them your indignant attitude. They’re just trying to prevent people from getting sick.
And, get the vaccine. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe have gotten it safely.
If you want to stick your head in the sand and think this is over, that’s your decision. But make no mistake, this is not over, as much as we’d all like it to be.
At the very least, be responsible for how your behavior might affect others.

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