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OUR OPINION: Continue to do your part and slow the spread

For months, it felt like everyday life had completely shut down. We were all sheltered in place, stuck at home and doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community — many counting down the days to when things returned to “normal.”

Life feels a lot more “normal” now, as stores are reopened, most have returned to a normal work routine and life in general is back to its full-speed pace. 

However, we can’t revert to the mindset that life is back to “normal.” Not yet. It’s too soon, and the latest COVID-19 numbers reflect that.  The number of cases show COVID-19 may currently be spreading faster locally than at any other point since the pandemic started. Cases have spiked over the last few weeks, and Troup County, which for a long time saw its cases increase by only a few each day, has now skyrocketed to over 600 cases.

Remember when we were all worried about cases coming over from Chambers County, Alabama? At one time, Chambers had one of the highest death rates of any county in the nation per 100,000 population. We even wrote a story or two about Troup County public officials worrying about Chambers County and the outbreak there. Well, Chambers County is at 417 cases and has held fairly steady the last month or so.

It’s Troup County that has seen its cases spike in recent weeks. There have been two local outbreaks, one at LaGrange Nursing and Rehab and one at the Troup County Jail, and the death toll in Troup County has climbed to 13.

At this point, it appears statewide shelter in place orders are in the rearview mirror, meaning personal responsibility — a term Mayor Jim Thornton has used repeatedly — appears to be the key to slowing the spread.

We can all live with blinders on, acting like there’s not a pandemic going on around us and putting people in danger through our actions. Or, we can do the right thing, wear a mask when out in public and consistently use hand sanitizer and soap and water. 

We admit that some of us in this building have even been guilty of not wearing a mask every time we’re out in public. It’s not a common practice, and it takes some getting used to. And yes, we’re sure there will be people commenting that the media continues to drive the narrative around this disease and won’t let it go, but the truth is that people in our community are getting very sick and dying from COVID-19.  Everybody wants COVID-19 to just go away, including the media. But it’s not going anywhere if we ignore its existence and live life like things are completely normal. District 4 Public Health believes the virus is mostly being passed around through community spread, meaning it’s not just the outbreaks or increased testing causing the numbers to go up.  Worried about it or not, we all have a role to play in slowing the spread of the disease. 

Please do your part in slowing the spread, so that we can truly get back to “normal.”