Daily Citizen-News on following the advice of public health officials as the coronavirus surges:

When you’re in public, please wear a mask or a face covering.

When you’re around people, be sure to stay at least 6 feet from each other.

If possible, avoid big crowds or gatherings where there are many people.

Wash your hands frequently — and use hand sanitizer when the traditional soap and water isn’t handy.

As you read in our front page story Tuesday, Whitfield County has landed a spot among Georgia counties by ranking tenth in the number of cumulative, confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. Whitfield County’s dubious ranking out of 159 counties is worsened by the fact we are 25th in total population with 104,628 residents.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s latest statistics released Monday afternoon, Whitfield County had 3,234 cumulative, confirmed cases of COVID-19, 27 deaths attributed to the virus and 145 hospitalizations. Whitfield County has 3,088 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents; only 13 Georgia counties have a higher rate.

Murray County had 538 cumulative, confirmed cases of COVID-19, two deaths attributed to the virus and 32 hospitalizations

Statewide, there have been 195,435 cumulative, confirmed cases of COVID-19, 3,842 deaths attributed to the virus and 19,124 hospitalizations.

Our high COVID-19 numbers have many in the medical community alarmed. North Georgia Health District Director Dr. Zachary Taylor told this newspaper ”... what is going on in our community is very concerning. We’re having substantial transmission of COVID-19 in our community, (and) we’re going to continue to see this until the community does more itself.”

Last month, Taylor and Dr. Steven Paynter, a local physician who is president of the Whitfield/Murray County Medical Society, wrote a letter to the community voicing their concerns about the transmission rate in the area.

“As concerned physicians, we want to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 and still strongly support U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines of social distancing when possible, avoiding large groups, wearing masks that cover both nose and mouth, frequent hand washing and using basic common sense,” they wrote.

In the past two weeks, Whitfield County’s confirmed COVID-19 cases have increased by 931.

We ask that everyone follow the advice of our local, state and national public health officials and those in the medical community.

Wear your mask. Practice social distancing. Stay away from crowds. Wash your hands.

By working together, we can turn things around.


Valdosta Daily Times on keeping up wth immunizations:

There is no good reason for parents not to immunize their children.

Any year but especially this year.

There is no immunization for COVID-19. Not yet anyway. But there are plenty of immunizations for other illnesses and diseases to protect the inoculated and the people they meet.

Like wearing a mask protects others, childhood immunizations protect us all.

It is simply irresponsible for parents to refuse immunizations.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month.

With schools scheduled to return next week and in coming weeks, and with many families opting to send children to the classrooms, Georgia Department of Public Health wants Georgians to think about the required school vaccinations.

“Our staff has been and continues to be focused on COVID-19 testing; however, we want to ensure individuals in our community are also up-to-date on needed immunizations,” said Norma Jean Johnson, RN, county nurse manager. “Our goal is more than to keep our children healthy, it’s also to protect them and those around them from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Safe and effective vaccines are available to protect adults and children alike against potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chicken pox), according to a statement from the South Health District.

Students born on or after Jan. 1, 2002 and entering the seventh grade need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster and adolescent meningococcal vaccinations, health officials said.

Every child in a Georgia school system (kindergarten-12th grade), attending a child-care facility or a student of any age entering a Georgia school for the first time is required by law to have a Georgia Immunization Certificate, Form 3231.

A previously announced adjustment to the meningococcal vaccine schedule, set to go into effect July 1, 2020, has been postponed until July 2021. Effective July 1, 2021, children 16 years of age and older, who are entering the 11th grade (including new entrants), must have received one booster dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, unless their initial dose was administered on or after their 16th birthday, according to the South Health District.

Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness that affects the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis can cause shock, coma and death within hours of the first symptoms.

To help protect your children and others from meningitis, Georgia law requires students be vaccinated against the disease, unless the child has an exemption.

To be fair, and accurate, there are a few — very few — medical exceptions for immunizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

All states, including Georgia, allow for medical exemptions for vulnerable children that might be more susceptible to serious side effects or reactions.

As we’ve seen in recent months, science is not the friend of conspiracy theorists – though science certainly doesn’t stop people from persistently believing conspiracy theories.

There is no science whatsoever to support outlandish claims that vaccines are somehow related to infant mortality, autism or other conditions.

Immunizations are safe.

Everyone should be immunized.


The Brunswick News on staying vigilant during tropical storm season:

All of us know the story about the boy who cried wolf. The shepherd boy’s reckless use of pointing out danger when there was none eventually led to nobody responding to his pleas when danger did arrive. While there is an important lesson about false alarms in this story, there is also a good, secondary lesson about complacency.

There are probably some along the Georgia coast who feel like the villagers in that fable after the area was threatened but not hit by another tropical storm. Just like with Dorian last year, Hurricane Isaias passed offshore and didn’t bring much in the way of damaging winds, dangerous storm surge or a tornado outbreak.

Dorian was a frustrating storm in many ways last year. It stalled out over the Bahamas, coming to a virtual standstill when it was at first projected to have a significant impact on the Isles. Evacuation was advised, the right call by decision-makers, because it looked like a major hurricane was coming our way. The wait seemed longer than the couple of days it actually was, but in the end, Dorian passed us by with nothing more than a little coastal flooding and some wind damage.

No evacuations were ordered for our area with Isaias like they were with Dorian. The storm switched back and forth between a hurricane and tropical storm. County officials again kept a close eye on the situation and made the right decision in the end. The storm passed by harmlessly offshore.

Two threats that didn’t manifest will no doubt lead some to question what they should do when the next storm spins its way in our direction. While there may be some temptation to ignore the danger, we encourage everyone to stave off that kind of complacent thinking.

Just because these storms didn’t have much of an effect doesn’t mean the next storm will be so kind as to avoid us. And if you think Isaias wasn’t that threatening to begin with, tell that to the people of the Carolinas who had to deal with flooding from the storm surge when it made landfall Monday night. Or think about the people in Virginia, Maryland and the rest of the eastern seaboard who were dealing with tornado outbreaks as Isaias continued on its path.

If you feel somewhat angry that there turned out to be no danger from Isaias, then think about the storm a different way. Consider it a test run for the next one that could come our way. Did you have all the supplies you need for your hurricane kit? Did your family know what your hurricane plan was? Those are the questions that need to be asked right now because it’s not a matter of if we will get hit by another storm, it’s when.