Here we go again. 
The ebb-and-flow cycle of the coronavirus pandemic is in flow mode again, as a result of the highly contagious “delta variant.” Across the country, the state and here in Moore County, positive test rates are on a new upswing, hospitalizations are rising, and much of the progress made in rolling back restrictions is in jeopardy.

Earlier this summer, it looked like we had this thing licked, or at least well controlled. From mid-May to early July, Moore County’s daily COVID case counts sat in single digits. Several days recorded no new cases. Our seven-day average of cases was below five as recently as July 14, and the percentage of positive test results on June 28 was down to 2.8 percent.

Now? That positivity test rate is 12.5 percent — more than double from the week prior. Seven-day case averages are at 19.7 — double from the week prior. Hospitalizations at FirstHealth of the Carolinas — 24 as of last week — are triple where they were earlier this month.

While these figures are still well off the highs back in January, they signal a disturbing trend that the coronavirus is not only remaining stubborn but has also grown more virulent. And while infections are almost entirely concentrated among the unvaccinated, there are sporadic reports of “breakthrough” infections among vaccinated individuals.

All of which has us asking what new — or renewed — sacrifices will we all need to make until more are willing to become vaccinated.

Fighting the Plateau

These upward infection trends are troubling because class is about to resume for our private schools and colleges. Children, who have shown to be increasingly vulnerable to the COVID-19 delta variant, will be in classes together, largely without face masks or few other control measures, causing a number of pediatricians to worry. And as soon as next week, the Moore County Board of Education may make mask-wearing optional when students return later in August.

The sharp growth of the delta variant’s spread comes at the same time that vaccination rates have largely plateaued. In Moore County, we are just a touch below 50 percent vaccinated. Everyone who wants one of the available coronavirus vaccines has now had one.

The Health Department and other medical providers have bountiful access to vaccines and have tried various outreach measures for anyone wanting a shot. The problem is that there are still plenty of folks who don’t want a shot, for any number of reasons. Can we increase that? We must.

Time to Make an Impact

First, increasing community vaccination rates requires the leadership of the health care community. FirstHealth, which said just 60 percent of its staff are vaccinated, last week announced it would not require the shot for its employees. These workers simply must lead by example — and remain in good health, considering the vulnerable patients they’re around all day. Six of the state’s largest health care systems are mandating the vaccines. So let’s start there.

Second, those who refuse a vaccination for political reasons would do well to heed those leaders and former leaders who have been vaccinated and who are urging the shots. From former President Trump to a battery of Fox News personalities and Republican political leaders, all have gotten vaccinated and are urging their supporters to do the same.

Third, those who refuse a vaccination for medical reasons have access to a litany of reputable, professional-grade information about a COVID vaccine, what it does and what one can expect. The vast body of scientific evidence has proven the vaccines effective, safe and protective even against this latest delta variant. “Breakthrough” infections are rare and almost always mild.

The COVID vaccine, like long-established vaccines for polio, measles, smallpox, mumps and rubella, are easy and effective solutions to curbing sickness and improving community health.

If you are unvaccinated, the sooner you act, the better off you — and your community — will be.

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(21) comments

Conrad Meyer

And I thought Bidum had a plan. He promised while he was campaigning. So far he has failed America.

Jim Tomashoff

Conrad's vying to replace the late demented Kent.

Conrad Meyer

That all you got Jim? I wear any name calling by you as a badge of honor as a patriot not a pinhead.

I am not Kent, never been Kent, and didn't always agree with Kent. But we all know that Kent STILL lives rent free in the back of your head. I am sure he chuckles knowing that fact.

And Bidum still has no plan.

Jim Tomashoff

Conrad, regarding your assertion that the CDC has refused to release data that supports their recommendations regarding masks due to the Delta variant. I'm sorry, but if you will do a quick web search you will find that they have. For example: https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/27/politics/cdc-mask-guidance/index.html. Or: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/27/health/cdc-masks-indoors-delta-variant.html. You find many additional postings in this regard.

Conrad Meyer

Jim, I did do a quick search. I do not trust CNN or the NY times. I was looking for something from the CDC itself. As of mid day - nothing. Thanks

Jim Tomashoff

For crying out loud Conrad. They are reporting what the CDC data found, they're not making this up on their own for ideological reasons, that's what Fox, Newsmax, and One America Now does. Just one of the dozens of such articles based on the CDC's data. This is the search term I used: "cdc mask guidelines due to data regarding delta variant" At least 100 hits registered, including this one: https://fox59.com/news/coronavirus/cdc-expected-to-backpedal-on-some-masking-guidelines-as-delta-variant-takes-hold/ or this one: https://www.foxla.com/news/cdc-new-data-suggests-vaccinated-people-could-transmit-delta-variant Both articles from Fox local networks. You trust them? Or have you joined Kent in abandoning Fox because it has become too liberal?

Conrad Meyer

Calm down Jim. I do not get news from the NY Times because they require an account with an email address. They will never get that from me. CNN is a joke.

However, thanks for the CNN link- inside it is another link to the CDC data I was looking for. The data is clunky to analyze at best and presented in a manner to support their recommendations. I'll be looking at that more this morning.

Jim Tomashoff

This may be of interest to you Conrad: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/cdc-grim-warning-delta-variant_n_610406fce4b0d3b5897d244a

Sally Larson

Jim, good link. Unfortunately, people can come up with all sorts of reasons not to believe the truth and choose to live in denial. There's really nothing any of us can do to change their minds. Sadly, we just have to let them go.

Comment deleted.
Jim Tomashoff

I found the source of this quote. It's from LifeSite. Not surprisingly it is a far-right conspiracy driven publication that has a sad history of providing Covid related misinformation for which it has being banned from several social media websites. For more information about it see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LifeSiteNews

Jack Farrell

Time to get serious and require vacination for ALL heatlth workers at a minimun:

This just in:

Federal "Justice Department lawyers have determined that federal law doesn't prohibit public agencies and private businesses from requiring Covid-19 vaccines, even if the vaccines have only been authorized for emergency use, according to an opinion posted online Monday."

Comment deleted.
Jim Tomashoff

"The Epoch Times is a far-right international multi-language newspaper and media company affiliated with the Falun Gong new religious movement. The newspaper, based in New York City, is part of the Epoch Media Group, which also operates New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television.

The Epoch Times opposes the Chinese Communist Party,[promotes far-right politicians in Europe, and has backed President Donald Trump in the U.S.; 2019 report by NBC News showed it to be the second-largest funder of pro-Trump Facebook advertising after the Trump campaign.The Epoch Media Group's news sites and YouTube channels have spread conspiracy theories such as QAnon and anti-vaccine misinformation. In 2020, the New York Times called it a "global-scale misinformation machine" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Epoch_Times

Thank you. Hope our community will respond. Do I believe they will? I don't.

John Misiaszek

Kent Misegades

Well, the thinking half of us won’t, John.

Jim Tomashoff

John, the willfully ignorant half won't, but that's o.k., Social Darwinism will take care of a lot of them within the next several weeks. I wonder if Kent has reserved a respirator yet?

Jim, I don't wish Kent a respirator but I do wish him enlightenment.

John Misiaszek

Conrad Meyer

Kent, I fully respect your right to decide whether to get the vaccine or not. After consultation with my doctor, I got the Pfizer vaccine in March and did not have any side effects after either shot.

However, as I was listening to the Fox News channel on the way home from grocery shopping today, there was a doctor being interviewed about the delta variant. This doctor confidently stated that if you have not had Covid or did not get vaccinated, that there is a near 100% chance that those individuals will catch the delta variant because it is so efficient in transmission. I apologize that I don't have the doctors name or even the show it was on. It is not posted on their website as of now. I only write this as a suggestion that you might want to consult with your doctor about how the situation has changed. And I respect your right to make your own decision,

Jim Tomashoff

Here it is Conrad.

"Brett Giroir, who served as former President Donald Trump's COVID-19 testing czar, warned unvaccinated Fox News viewers on Thursday that they "will get the Delta variant" of the novel coronavirus if they are not vaccinated.

The Delta variant, which originally surfaced in India, has led to a surge in new COVID-19 infections in the U.S. over the past several weeks. While public health officials and doctors continue to assess that vaccinated individuals have substantial protection against the variant—especially against severe cases, hospitalizations and death—they have expressed growing alarm for the unvaccinated.

During a Thursday interview with Fox News, Giroir, the former assistant secretary of health in the Trump administration, raised those concerns as well. He predicted that all unvaccinated Americans would inevitably catch the Delta variant, as it is significantly more contagious than the original COVID-19 virus."

I would agree with your choosing to respect Kent's right to make his own decision about getting vaccinated. However, I would put one condition relating to this decision. Kent must not leave his house until such time as Covid is no longer spreading (a month, a year, a decade; I don't care). Otherwise you are respecting his decision to move among us and infecting other people (even with the Delta variant some people get it but remain non-symptomatic, and because it is so much more virulent they will spread it others nonetheless) some of whom will get incredibly ill (this is why Kent should go out and buy his own personal respirator) and some will die. He doesn't have the right to do that. He's a self-proclaimed Christian. Yet I seem to recall that Jesus cured people of leprosy, he didn't give it to them. If it were possible to determine through contact tracing a specific unvaccinated individual who passes the Covid Delta variant to someone else I would arrest that person and charge them with reckless endangerment, because that is what the Kent's of this world will be doing.

Conrad Meyer

Thanks Jim, that sounds like the sound bites I was hearing. I was a bit surprised this was even on Fox.

Where to go from here..... It is Kent's decision on how to proceed, hopefully he will consult a trusted medical advisor and make an informed choice. However, I don't think I would agree that he be quarantined because of his choice. I am sure he wouldn't quarantine if he chose to remain unvaxxed.

On a similar note, all of us have been told many times by our feckless leader that once you are vaccinated that masks are no longer required. Yet now we are told we might have to mask up again. All while the CDC refuses to release any data that supports this suggestion/mandate. Why is this important? Normally, you make your decisions based on data. Once the decision is made, it is simple (even for the government goobs) to release the supporting data. None of this has been done.

Our "feckless leader" has been out of office for more than 6 months now Conrad.

From the beginning, as more becomes known about this novel virus recommendations have changed,and no doubt,they will continue to change. Personal responsibility requires we all pay attention to the most current information to the best of our ability and follow those recommendations.

John Misiaszek

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