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OUR VIEW: What a difference a year makes

On March 25, 2020 — exactly one year ago today — Troup County experienced its first death from COVID-19. At the time, most of us were pretty worried. Articles written about that time included the symptoms of COVID-19 and finding a way to be tested was a big concern.

Now, exactly one year later to the day, a COVID-19 vaccine is available to all people in Georgia over the age of 16. If you missed it, Gov. Brian Kemp announced that news on Tuesday, saying that as of March 25, every person 16 and older in Georgia is now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

That’s an incredible transformation in 365 days.

Obviously, there are still concerns.

For one, getting a vaccine in the arm of everyone who wants one is still completely dependent on supply. We’re sure that there will be a big wave of appointments made Thursday — which is a good thing — as people try to find a time and place to get their shot.

There are also a lot of people who say they will not get the COVID-19 vaccination.

A LDN survey a few months ago showed that about half of people in Troup County will refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccination. As we wrote then, we certainly understand that people are concerned about the vaccine and the long-term side effects that potentially exist with taking it.

We’re human too. Everyone in this office is having to make their own decision on whether or not taking the vaccine is the right decision for them and their family.

Here’s what we do know: COVID-19 has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and life is not back to normal.

We’re still social distancing and still wearing masks.

The vaccination feels like the best way to end this worldwide nightmare, shed the masks and start filling public venues again.

We’re ready to be able to hug family members and shake hands with friends and acquaintances when we see them around town.

Just because the numbers are improving (thankfully), we urge you not to forget about the fear and unknown we all felt a year ago. A year ago at this time we didn’t even really know what social distancing meant.

Now, just about everyone reading this has a chance to go get a vaccination that has been proven to stop this disease. That’s an incredible turnaround in one year, and it shows how far we’ve come.