There’s no escaping COVID, it’s all around us but you can take precautions against spreading it

Published 2:59 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The daily number of cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, and sadly, so does the number of deaths.
Over the past couple of years we’ve watched quarantine turn from a two-week shutdown into a way of life. We all desperately want this pandemic to end, but, thus far, it continues to rage. It has invaded our homes, workplaces, schools, churches, and communities everywhere. The case numbers are the highest they have ever been.
And, when the numbers are at their highest, the Tennessee Department of Health decided to quit producing daily reports. Instead, they are only producing the numbers once a week — each Wednesday. We do not know the logic in changing the reporting status, but the numbers are up. So are the hospitalizations and the deaths from COVID. The voice of the Dept. of Health should be the loudest it has ever been.
Vaccinations in Carter County have yet to reach 50 percent. There is a laxness in the wearing of masks and social distancing. COVID-19 is no respecter of persons, and now is not the time to let down your guard.
This week, Ballad Health reported the highest number of hospitalized COVID patients since Sept. 30. The Tennessee Dept. of Health in a report to the CDC late last week reported its two largest single-day increases in COVID-19 cases.
As of Monday, a total of 310 patients were hospitalized at Ballad Health with COVID-19. There were 59 new admissions over the weekend.
It may be tempting to ease up with wearing masks. But, no matter how safe you think you are, please be aware that the OMICRON variant of COVID-19 is out there — in the grocery store, at the Wal-Mart, at school, at church, and everywhere else you might go. You can’t see or feel it until it is too late.
Don’t be misled into thinking that just because you have received the vaccines that you are safe and we are nearing the end of the pandemic. If you’ve received the vaccine, or know someone who has, celebrate that good news, but continue to do your part in protecting those you share your space with.
Properly wearing masks, social distancing and washing your hands helps slow the spread of the coronavirus. Don’t risk your life and the lives of others by ignoring rules that are in place to ensure the safety of an entire community. Now is not the time to let down your guard. We must continue to promote the benefits of vaccination. Yes, even vaccinated people can get COVID, but doctors say those vaccinated are less likely to get sick enough to be hospitalized, and recover much quickly.
There are concerns that the sheer increase in the number of cases will continue to cause a rise in hospitalizations, even though the Omicron variant, while more contagious, causes less severe disease.
In the midst of this latest surge, hospital officials across the country are reporting staffing shortages due to the increase in cases as well as the number of healthcare professionals who are sick.
“I agree that our primary focus should be on preventing hospitalizations and deaths,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, said this week. “That is where the painful tragedies are, where the stress on the healthcare system is most severe and also where the greatest financial costs are.
“Omicron is spreading widely and rapidly throughout the United States,” Schaffner added. “Fortunately, many cases are occurring among vaccinated and boosted persons and those infections are mild, not requiring hospitalization. Sadly, the substantial majority of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated. We know that deaths are a ‘lagging indicator,’ so one must interpret the lower death rate with caution.”
“Because of all the holiday travel and mixing the U.S. could well be in for a tough January with its healthcare system stressed further,” added Schaffner. “This is particularly concerning because influenza is starting its usual winter surge right now also.”
We would urge you if you have not been vaccinated, do get the vaccine. Continue to wear your mask. And, if you are sick, stay home. We cannot be too careful with COVID-19. It’s no fun being sick.