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Editorial: What others are saying about COVID-19
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COVID-19

Editorial: What others are saying about COVID-19

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Virus Outbreak US Surge

On Sunday, Washington Capitals supporters sat among cutouts of New Jersey Devils fans as they watched the NHL game in Newark, N.J.

It is understandable: the desire to embrace an elderly loved one, to shed a mask and smile brightly at the counter clerk, to reunite with a group of friends over a bottle of wine and a gab session. But, this is not the time.

We are COVID-19 weary, to be sure. But we must be wary of our natural instincts for face-to-face communion with others.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a tearful public statement this past month that she is plagued with a recurring feeling of “impending doom.” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she fears a fourth wave of the coronavirus might be at our doorsteps.

This is not an irrational fear. Germany hovers on another lockdown. Paris hospitals are on the verge of being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. New cases are climbing across the U.S. Science and medicine are trying to gauge the effectiveness of vaccines against new virus variants that are being found near and far.

This is the time to dig deep for the will and the self-discipline to combat COVID-19 fatigue.

President Joe Biden recently cautioned America that “this is deadly serious.” He asked leaders across the land to double down on mask mandates. This is common sense.

Now is the time to channel the spirit of the Greatest Generation. Those who battled in World War II — abroad, in actual combat and those who contributed to the war effort on the homefront — rose to the expectations and requirements of the occasion. And they kept rising until the battle was won. We must remember and follow their lead. This is the American spirit.

Walensky confided that she is “scared.” A little bit of fear is a good thing in a deadly pandemic, and we remain in pandemic gloom despite the pinhole lights of vaccination and the more distant torch of herd immunity.

Coronavirus cases went up in the U.S. by 10% in recent weeks, Walensky said, to about 60,000 cases per day. Likewise, hospitalizations and deaths were trending upward.

More vaccinations are the way. More people are rolling up their sleeves to receive those shots. Still, vaccination is not a panacea. The vaccination effort must be accompanied by the twin protocols of masking and social distancing.

The president said it and citizens must listen: “Now’s not the time to celebrate. It is time to do what we do best as a country: our duty, our jobs, take care of one another ... Fight to the finish. Don’t let up now.”

This is the time for hope, but not for complacency. We might be weary but we are not worn down or worn out. We must find the resolve to continue to do the right thing: Wear a mask and social distance.

— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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President Joe Biden said that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made a “big mistake” this past month when he eliminated mandated masks and ended capacity restrictions on businesses. Nevertheless, new COVID-19 virus cases there have decreased 24% in the past two weeks.

That’s completely baffling to some New Yorkers, who, despite still diligently covering their faces in public and observing capacity limits nearly everywhere, have seen virus cases statewide shoot up 33% in the past 14 days — the third-highest rate of new infections in the country, behind Michigan and New Jersey.

What gives?

Don’t listen to know-nothings who insist, against all evidence, that masks and social distancing don’t work. They do. But in other parts of the country, vaccinations are outpacing the virus’ spread. In New York, we’re facing new, even more contagious, mutated variations of the virus, which are spreading as fast if not faster than we’re able to get out shots, especially among young people who just have become eligible. That’s not translating into rising hospitalizations and deaths, but it is fueling new infections.

City health officials tell us two super-contagious mutant strains — the “New York” variant, labeled B.1.526, and the “U.K.” variant, B.1.1.7 — now make up half of all New York’s new COVID-19 cases. The vaccines are working, though, both against plain old SARS-CoV-2 and its new cousins. Since early February in New York City, when vaccines widely became available to the elderly, COVID-19 infection rates among people age 65 and older, the likeliest to die from the disease, have been cut in half. That’s why fewer people are needing serious medical treatment and dying.

But just because deaths have gone down is no reason to rest easy. So long as variants keep spreading they’ll keep mutating, evolving new defenses that eventually could render useless our miraculous vaccines. The Biden administration should consider sending extra doses to hot spots like New York that now are battling the variants. If this is a war, surge defenses where the threat is largest.

— The New York Daily News

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