Opinion: Now Is Not the Time to Start Ignoring COVID

Posted 8/4/22

As it’s tempting to move on — to throw out the masks, to stop worrying about when and where to get that next booster — now is not the time to start ignoring COVID-19.

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Opinion: Now Is Not the Time to Start Ignoring COVID

Posted

We’re all tired of thinking about it.

And you can rest assured that we here at the Chronicle are tired of writing about it.

But as much as it’s tempting to move on — to throw out the masks, to stop worrying about when and where to get that next booster — now is not the time to start ignoring COVID-19.

The pandemic is on the rise once more in South Carolina, and Lexington County is one of the hotspots.

As of July 26, all but nine counties in the state had a high COVID Community Level, an evaluation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the severity of the situation concerning the virus based on the latest available data. A high level triggers a universal recommendation — both from the CDC and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control — to mask against the virus in all indoor public spaces.

In Lexington County, the case rate (as announced by the CDC when it issues its weekly Community Level updates) has gone up for six straight weeks. In that time, the rate of new cases per week has gone from 215.16 cases per 100,000 people to 480.67.

According to DHEC, between June 23 and July 23 (when the department issued the most recent update of its county-level COVID data), Lexington had the third-highest case rate of any county in the state (behind Richland and Kershaw, which both sit nearby in the Midlands).

We live in a county that is ill-equipped to quell this latest swell of cases. Per DHEC, just 55.1% of those eligible have completed the full complement of vaccinations against COVID.

It is not our intent to issue any kind of “red alert” here.

Deaths have not shown a corresponding increase as cases have gone up — DHEC data shows less than five deaths from the virus in Lexington County between June 23 and July 23.

And we know that restaurants, entertainment venues and a variety of other local businesses have been hit hard by the virus and don’t need us to spend any more time hiding at home.

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop paying attention to COVID.

We encourage you to keep your eyes peeled to DHEC and CDC updates — and to think hard about heeding their counsel. We urge you to stay up to date with COVID numbers and make your decisions about how to keep yourself safe with the benefit of fresh information.

And we encourage you to consider getting vaccinated — or completing your series of COVID vaccinations — if you haven’t. DHEC can guide you to a nearby vaccine location at vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov.

Mandates — be they from local governments or local businesses — are gone, and they show no signs of coming back. It’s up to us to figure out for ourselves how to best keep our communities healthy.

We should continue to take that responsibility seriously.

This article is the opinion of the Chronicle editorial board. To comment, email opinion@lexingtonchronicle.com.

covid-19 lexington, midlands coronavirus, columbia pandemic, cdc community level

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