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OUR VIEW: We must remain vigilant

The media in general, and this newspaper, is often criticized for writing too much about the coronavirus. And then, we’re criticized for writing too little. It just depends on who you talk to.

It’s a tough balance, especially when you consider this pandemic is affecting every part of our lives, regardless of whether we want it to or not.

But the truth is that Troup County, slowly but surely, appears to be trending in the right direction when it comes to COVID-19. Several weeks ago, the Georgia Department of Public Health updated its COVID-19 website, and it now lists new cases by date of report. Previously, GDPH only reported based on date of onset of symptoms, which was really confusing since that meant going back and updating previous day numbers.

Based on those numbers, it looks like Troup County has gotten back near the single digits in cases per day. That’s a huge change from July, when an increase of 30 or 40 per day was a regular thing. That’s great news, but it also doesn’t mean we should relax and stop wearing masks. Taking precautions and wearing masks are part of the reason Troup County is starting to see less COVID-19 cases.

It’s important to remember that 2,652 people in Troup County have had COVID-19 overall and 90 people in our community have died. This is still affecting our friends, family and neighbors.

An updated model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which has often been cited by the White House, is also a stern reminder that the worst may not even be behind us. IHME released a new model over the weekend that predicts more than 400,000 Americans will die by the end of the year, although that number could be reduced by as much as 30 percent if more would wear masks.

Much of that prediction is due to a relaxed state of mind in regard to the virus, plus the fact that the United States is getting closer to the fall and winter months, when more people will be forced inside due to cold weather. Plus, many expect the virus to thrive in the cooler climate.

We’re also writing this on Labor Day, which serves as another chance for Americans to get together and groups. Hopefully, there won’t be a large spike in cases following the holiday. 

To be clear, we’re not telling you to live in fear or to be afraid to live your life. Actually, we’re writing quite the opposite. We know what slows the spread of this virus — social distancing and mask wearing. Do those things, live your life and make smart decisions.

One of these days COVID-19 will be over, but it’s not today.

Football may be back on TV, students are back in school and life is eerily starting to feel more normal. But it’s not, and you shouldn’t treat it as such.

Wear a mask, social distance, and eventually we will actually be back to normal.