Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Brunswick News on mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic:
There was a time in America when discussing mental health was something that just wasn’t done. Admitting that you were feeling sad or depressed was considered a sign of weakness. Thankfully, many today understand that it actually takes an incredible amount of strength to talk to someone about the mental struggles they go through.
That is especially important considering the times we find ourselves in right now. No one could have imagined what life would look like in the midst of a global pandemic, or what it might do to our social lives.
We can’t help but be social people. We like to go to restaurants, movie theaters, sporting events and concerts not only for the food and entertainment, but also to experience it with other people. We enjoy spending time with friends and family. It’s been the human experience for centuries.
The pandemic has no doubt put a strain on mental health. Many of us sheltered in place for several weeks, only leaving home for essentials. For some, it meant isolating from normal social groups. For many, it meant spending several weeks cooped up inside with others who felt just as marooned indoors. That can put a serious strain on even the best of relationships.
Even though restrictions have been loosened, the pandemic combined with the rest of the negativity permeating throughout our world can lead some down a dark path. A feeling of hopelessness can turn into morbid thoughts.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. It serves as a reminder of how important it is for all of us to take care of our mental health.
The stats paint a bleak picture. There is one death by suicide every 12 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the United States. Around the world it is the second leading cause of death for people 14 to 25 years old.
Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Warning signs of trouble include increased alcohol or drug use, aggressive behavior, withdrawal from friends and family, dramatic mood swings and impulsive behavior.
Seek immediate help if you see someone engaging in suicidal behaviors that include collecting or saving pills, buying a weapon, giving away possessions, tying up loose ends or saying goodbye to friends and families.
If you need help or know someone who does, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you are struggling, remember that no matter how hopeless the world may seem, there are people who love you and want what is best for you. Reach out to them to help you get through trying times.
The Valdosta Daily Times on getting the flu shot:
It is more important than ever to get your flu shot this year and to get it early.
Hospitals are stressed with the influx of COVID-19 patients and additional admissions because of the seasonal flu could prove overwhelming.
Health care experts say it is not too early to get your flu shot.
Here are the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control for flu shots:
— CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
— While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common.
— Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
— Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins in their community. Health experts also recommend getting vaccinated early this year.
— Vaccination of high-risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
— People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children; pregnant women; people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease; and people 65 years and older.
— Vaccination also is important for health care workers and other people who live with or care for high-risk people to keep from spreading flu to them.
— Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.
Both for those who have and those who have not gotten the flu vaccine this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these recommendations to reduce your chances of getting sick and to manage your sickness if you do:
— Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
— While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
— If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
— Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
— Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
— Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
— Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs such as the flu.
It should also be remembered that the hospital emergency room is not the first line of defense for battling the flu.
A visit to a primary health care physician or after-hours clinic may be necessary if symptoms warrant but the emergency room should be reserved for emergencies.
Fortunately, many of the same practices we have had to get used to in the past few months to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will also help prevent the spread of the flu — that is if we simply follow the guidelines.
As we have said repeatedly, we encourage everyone in our community to vigorously follow those guidelines — avoid crowds, socially distance, practice good hygiene, wear protective masks — and now we add to that list: Get your flu vaccine.
Rome News-Tribune on the launch of the football season in Georgia schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, a ransomware attack on computer servers in Floyd County and high-speed internet access:
Football is here!
It’s a little delayed and there have been some changes. But if this is what we have to do to get our favorite pastime rolling this year, we just gotta do it.
If it’s done like the school systems have said it’s going to be done, we’re not going to have as many people in the stands this year.
That’s a small price to pay to keep the season going.
There’s risk involved any year in any sport. This year’s different and carries its own risk but it doesn’t mean we can’t try to make the best of it. Yeah we’re going to hear some complaining (our other favorite pastime) and here’s a suggestion — if you don’t like it, stay at home this year.
The students who’ve worked so hard to make the season happen deserve your support. Cheering in the stands isn’t the only way to lend it.
People acting irresponsibly is what will bring this season to its knees. There’s a difficult season ahead and it’s pretty likely we’re going to see more games canceled, so the only way to mitigate that possibility is to follow the rules and ... well ... hope for the best.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. The chance that the remainder of the season will continue without interruption is about as good as getting a coronavirus vaccine on Nov. 1. It’s a great claim to make but it’s not likely.
So let’s keep hope (and the football season) alive this year by not only rooting for our teams to pull out a W but by paying attention to another three Ws — Wash your hands, Watch your distance and Wear a mask.
THERE'S MORE THAN ONE KIND OF VIRUS
It’s almost a relief to talk about another kind of virus after reporting on the new coronavirus for months, but this one’s been a real pain for the county.
This week we saw a ransomware attack on county servers and the slow, painstaking process of fixing the damage of such an attack. It just takes one person clicking on the wrong link and boom, the whole system has been hijacked.
Every business and household is vulnerable.
It’s easy to forget how much we rely on the internet and technology until it’s gone. Schools this year have taken a crash course in online learning and over 3,000 students in this area are exclusively taking classes via computer.
By the way, you read that number right. As we continue working in this virtual environment, we’ve seen our internet connections become a matter of public health and public safety.
This most recent attack didn’t stop 911 from functioning but it did affect some of their computers. Let’s hope those security measures that kept us up and running hold true for any future attacks.
Last year our courts took a trip back in time and worked from paper dockets to keep functioning because of a ransomware attack. This year, court processes have been effectively crippled by the coronavirus.
Ah, there it is again.
Let’s talk about something else. Hmmmm ... politics or religion anyone?
LET'S TALK ABOUT THE INTERNET
Virtual classes for students aren’t a thing of the future anymore. They’re here and will continue to be a part of nearly every school system’s arsenal even after the (cross our fingers and hope) demise of COVID-19.
But connectivity is still an issue.
At this point there are approximately 1.6 million Georgians without internet. According to 2014-2018 U.S. Census data, only 77% of Floyd County households have access to broadband internet subscriptions.
That leaves 23% of households without reliable high-speed internet. That puts a lot of children at a serious disadvantage.
While our Legislature has proposed measures to deal with the issue of providing rural communities with affordable broadband services, none have really taken hold.
As we (hopefully) shed some of the complications 2020 has placed upon us, we should focus on making sure rural areas have solid internet connectivity. The disadvantage it puts on children could turn out to be insurmountable going forward.