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Be vigilant to lessen the spread of COVID-19 this holiday season

These are the Carter County COVID-19 facts as of Friday: 42 deaths, which is 1.1 percent of deaths statewide; a daily rate of 68.1 cases per day over the last seven days; and over the last 14 days Carter County has had an average 33.7 new cases per day. For the 14 days prior, the average was 21.9.
Over the last seven days, Carter County has averaged 193.3 tests per day, which equals to 34.3 tests per 10,000 residents per day. Over the past days, the average percent positive was 19.4 percent, which means that all nursing homes in the county are locked down due to COVID-19. This means no visitors, no one going in or out except for employees.
As of November 8, Carter County has been in the red zone.
The holidays are on us, so is flu season and winter. The numbers remind us that there is no holiday for the spread of COVID-19. We must be vigilant to lessen the spread of COVID this holiday season. The rising number of COVID-19 cases in Carter County and Northeast Tennessee — 61 Thursday in Carter County — serves as a wake-up call. The statistics are sobering. It’s important that we face the coronavirus facts and figures. And it’s even more important that we don’t forget that the growing death toll numbers are not just statistics. They represent people whose lives have been tragically cut short —including people here in Carter County.
The rising number of cases in Carter County and Northeast Tennessee serves as a wake-up call. Our number are among the highest in the state, per 100,000 residents.
The 2020 holiday season might be one of the bleakest experienced by many Americans. With colder weather confining people indoors, public health experts say we might see as many at 3,000 deaths a day in the U.S. during the month of December.
One projection by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation warns that with current interventions the pandemic death toll in America will surpass 410,000 by New Year’s Day. If we take the “herd immunity” and have no interventions, the death toll will reach at least 620,000 by Jan. 1.
Right now, the response by the White House and federal government can be likened to a burning Rome while its leader, Nero, fiddled.
This crisis is a bleak one for our nation. Consider three other periods of significant deaths in America’s history. World War II accounted for a total of 405,399 American deaths, with 291,557 of those in combat. The Civil War’s death toll is estimated to be about 655,000, with 214,938 people dying in combat. The Spanish Flu that ran its course during two years from 1918 to 1920 and resulted in at least 50 million deaths worldwide, about 675,000 occurring in the United States.
The pandemic is well on its way to surpassing in the number of deaths in wars and previous health crises in our nation’s history. As the COVID-19 death toll continues to grow, we might see more than 700,000 American lives lost by the end of next year.
Despite the dangers, we’re now seeing a perfect storm brewing of the potential for the contagion to spread far more rapidly in the coming months. A growing number of people feel “pandemic fatigue.” Many have stopped being diligent in protecting themselves and others through basic but effective actions such as wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing.
A growing segment of the population is also filled with pandemic anger. They deny the public health crisis is real. Despite the science, some people believe COVID-19 is a hoax that is politically motivated.
The good news is that a vaccine may be readily available by spring, and can start to have a meaningful impact on the population.
The winter holidays are a time of festive gatherings of friends and family. People travel long distances to be with loved ones. It’s going to be hard emotionally on many of us to have to restrict our attendance at these parties, meals and other events. But in the year of COVID, the stakes are high.
Let’s remember we’re still in this situation for the long haul. The holidays this year will be a challenge for many of us as we face a more somber and serious winter season. But we can make it down this rough road if we all stick together.
Right now, the moment has come for true leadership. We need our officials, men and women on both sides of the political aisle, to set aside their ideological differences and remind us that we Americans are at our best when we choose to stop fighting and start uniting as a country.
Again, our holiday greeting to you this year: Stay safe. Wear a mask, socially distance, stay away from crowds, and practice good physical hygiene…and get a flu shot.