Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Daily Citizen-News on mask mandates and some county commissioners in Georgia who did not wear masks at a public meeting:
About an hour down the road in Rome on Monday night, the City Commission voted 8-1 to institute a mask mandate to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). The Rome News-Tribune reported the emergency order “requires face coverings to be worn in public places across the city when people cannot socially distance themselves from others.”
“At some point we have to do what is best for our community,” Rome City Commissioner Bonnie Askew was quoted in the newspaper as saying.
Study after study has shown that face coverings can help slow the transmission of COVID-19, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that you “cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others” due to the virus’ ability to be spread through aerosols.
“Everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” according to the CDC.
Meanwhile in Whitfield County during a work session on Monday night, the board of commissioners showed it has no interest in requiring residents to wear a mask while in public or when social distancing isn’t possible. Moreover, several commissioners have no interest in wearing masks at all -- even in a county building that has a sign on the door requiring them.
During the meeting at the Edwards Park gym, four of the five commissioners said they are against making people wear masks in public. The lone mask mandate proponent, Chairman Lynn Laughter, implored commissioners and the crowd in attendance to wear face coverings remarking, “It doesn’t just protect you, it protects others.” Dr. Zachary Taylor, health director of the North Georgia Health District, spoke at the work session about the importance of wearing face coverings and cited studies backing the recommendation.
Gov. Brian Kemp, who has for months fought local mask mandates, earlier this month issued an executive order letting local governments enact mask requirements with certain restrictions and exemptions. Many cities and counties have since passed mask mandates.
However, commissioners Harold Brooker, Roger Crossen, Greg Jones and Barry Robbins do not support a mask mandate for Whitfield County. Laughter said since the majority of commissioners do not support a mask requirement, she will no longer pursue the issue.
Crossen, Jones and Robbins did not wear masks during the meeting. Brooker attended the meeting by phone. In July, commissioners passed a resolution requiring masks be worn in county facilities, and in county vehicles occupied by more than one person. Commissioners also recommended that residents wear masks in all public places. Jones voted against the resolution; Laughter typically votes only to break ties.
COVID-19 has hit Whitfield County especially hard compared to other counties in Georgia. As of Tuesday afternoon, Whitfield County had reported 3,859 cumulative COVID-19 cases with 47 deaths attributed to the virus, according to the state Department of Public Health. Whitfield County has the 13th most cumulative cases out of 159 counties in Georgia.
In their refusal to wear masks at a public meeting in a county building, Crossen, Jones and Robbins have set a poor example for Whitfield County residents. These commissioners should encourage residents to wear masks in public. These commissioners should be leading by example. These commissioners should help in every way they can to turn the tide against this horrible pandemic. These commissioners should ensure their safety, and the safety of others.
Instead, they are sending the wrong message.
The Valdosta Daily Times on giving aid to charities during the coronavirus pandemic:
They need help.
Usually, they help us. They still want to help us. They are helping us.
But they need help to keep helping us.
Like everything else this year, charities have been strained to the max by COVID-19.
As the story in the Wednesday edition of The Valdosta Daily Times notes, some of the services we’ve come to take for granted, that we point to as being a part of the best of us, are in trouble.
And not just the kind of trouble that if they don’t reach a certain goal, they will be able to help fewer people.
No. Some charitable organizations face the type of trouble that if they don’t get some help, more help, soon, they will close.
And if those organizations close, the people they help will face greater hardships in their day-to-day lives.
Valdosta has always been known for its generosity.
From donating more food than even Atlanta in past food drives to raising tens of thousands of dollars within weeks to send World War II veterans to visit their monument in Washington, D.C., to donating tens of thousands of dollars annually to ensure no child goes without a Christmas toy through the Empty Stocking Fund, the people of Valdosta have come through for others.
It is time to step up to the plate again.
We understand that not everyone can give, even in the best of times.
But for the people who can give, we urge you to give now to a favorite charity or to an organization facing a great need.
Some of the organizations facing critical needs are mentioned in our story but other charities face shortages in funds, supplies and volunteers.
But no shortage in the number of people needing them.
Yet, due to shortfalls of funds, supplies and volunteers, some organizations can help fewer people than they would during a “normal” year, let alone the increased volume of people in need because of the pandemic.
If you have a little or a lot, give what you can: a can of food or a palette of food; a dollar or a check for a thousand dollars; a helping hand or a day of volunteering.
Give what you can afford.
Give to help organizations that are helping strangers, neighbors, friends and perhaps family.
Give now if you are able. Because as this year has demonstrated, we never know what may happen. We never know when we may be in need.
Giving to a worthy cause today, when you can, may ensure it’s there tomorrow, if you need it.
The Brunswick News on hospitals in rural Georgia:
The next time state legislators begin debating whether to allow gambling operations in the state — casinos, horse racing, dog tracks and the like — maybe someone ought to suggest that all proceeds from legalized betting be funneled toward providing health care in Georgia.
By no means is this an endorsement of legalized gambling. It is, however, a call for action. Hospitals are dropping like flies, especially in rural counties, creating a health care void where there was none in recent times.
COVID-19 is forcing the closure of two in 2020 alone. Earlier this summer, Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Randolph County disclosed it will blink out of existence in late October. This week, Northridge Medical Center in Northeast Georgia announced its doors will close on Oct. 31. That’s a 90-bed facility that will not be around to service the state’s growing population.
It’s a problem non-exclusive to Georgia. According to a recent report by The Associated Press, 128 rural hospitals have called it quits over the past decade.
Eighteen did as recently as last year. Those keeping tabs on the industry predict more will collapse between now and the first day of 2021.
In view of what’s happening today with COVID-19, with so many hospitalizations and deaths, that’s a disquieting forecast.
Funding health care remains a high-voltage, contentious issue in this nation. Anyone who has picked up a newspaper or magazine or listened to a news show knows that much. But when hospitals continue to close, it’s time to move to the next rung in this protracted debate, whatever that rung is or will be. If it’s to simply do nothing, then so be it. Everyone can just quietly move on to the next topic.
It’s like watching a raging fire consume an isolated village while townspeople stand a safe distance away arguing how to tackle it for the best outcome. If they debate it long enough, shout loud enough to muffle the sound of advancing flames and crackling wood, the fire will decide the outcome for them.
It stands to reason that the loss of rural hospitals adds to the already tremendous pressure on health facilities in larger metropolitan areas. These patients have to go somewhere. Their likely destination will be the nearest health care facility.
Question is, how much will these medical wonders be able to take on before they begin tilting toward serious funding issues? Many already are.
Georgia’s cities and counties are sending a lot of smart men and women to the General Assembly. At least one of them ought to have an idea worthy of consideration. Let’s pray they do.