As expected, the post-Thanksgiving spike of coronavirus cases has presented itself, but what a difference a year makes. Although we are seeing positivity test rates back in double digits after being considerably less through fall, the overall matter is being accepted with much less angst than a year ago.

Indeed, what a difference a year makes. We are now almost a full year into COVID-19 vaccine availability, and approximately 62 percent of Moore County’s 100,000 residents have been vaccinated. Another 14,000 achieved their immunity a different way; they contracted the virus and, to varying degrees, took ill.

We may be through the worst — there is much talk about 2022 being a transition from a pandemic to “endemic” presence — but we are not through with COVID. Going forward, more will be needed of us, including mask wearing at appropriate times and staying current on vaccination.

To that end, we were pleased to see recent numbers self-reported by FirstHealth of the Carolinas showing that virtually all its employees and others connected to the hospital system — 99.8 percent — had complied with the health system’s vaccine mandate policy.

We would feel more comfortable, however, knowing how many employees actually got vaccinated. That’s because the hospital left a massive loophole for workers: declare a religious belief, medical or other physical or mental concern and they could be excused from the vaccine requirement.

When the policy was announced in mid-September, the hospital said about 65 percent of its 5,000 employees and volunteers were vaccinated. And that was after other inducements, including cash incentives. So we’d be very interested to know what percentage of that final 35 percent actually got vaccinated vs. an exemption. Call it transparency or “peace of mind.” If the hospital is asking its public to be sympathetic to its needs and do the right thing and get vaccinated so as not to overwhelm the health care system, then that system should lead by example.

It’s beginning to look like COVID will simply be with us going forward, what with vaccination rates barely budging locally and new variants emerging. For the upcoming holidays and beyond, it looks like common sense and responsible risk management measures are the ways forward.

New Health Director

The director of a county public health department is an important job, since it oversees the general sanitation and wellness of its community. The cleanliness of restaurants and hotels, the safety of public pools, the proper operation of sewer and septic systems, keeping communicable disease in check — it’s a tall order to maintain, and takes great skill and knowledge.

Sadly, it took the coronavirus pandemic to highlight this critical part of our government infrastructure. Having operated mostly out of the spotlight, the Moore County Health Department and its Board of Health have been under near constant scrutiny these last two years.

With long-serving Director Robert Wittmann retiring, now is a chance to bring in a talented and seasoned public health professional. The county’s pay is pretty decent too: a stated range of $91,000 to $137,000. That’s appropriate, for the role this person will pay.

So we were dismayed to see that, while the Board of Health obviously prefers someone with a master’s degree in public health, it is also accepting applicants with simply a bachelor’s degree in public health administration and three years experience.

And even for candidates with the master’s degree, the minimum level of experience is a year in health programs or services. A year.

If the bar were much lower, it would be part of the buried septic systems health specialists inspect.

This job supervises a staff of 35 and 13 environmental health employees and manages a $4.5 million budget.

As we’ve seen, a leader and creative thinker is needed for this position. Let’s expect more of our applicants.

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(9) comments

Jim Tomashoff

How does one know that he/she has "natural immunity?" Not catching a disease doesn't necessarily mean you are immune, doesn't it just mean you haven't caught it yet?

Kent Misegades

Never, ever get flu shots. Never get more than an annual case of the sniffles. Stay fit and outdoors a lot. God created an amazing body for us, that heals itself when treated right. Living great in Seven Lakes, never masked, never stuck for the CCP flu. Freedom is a fine thing, but it’s not free.

Kent Misegades

Christianity Daily: “CDC Admits It Has No Record Of Unvaccinated People With Natural Immunity Against COVID Spreading The Virus”, Daily Veracity: “Thirty Scientific Studies Conclude Natural Immunity is Vastly Superior to the Current COVID-19 Vaccines” Living very well mask-free and shot-free in Seven Lakes in a body with natural immunity, on loan from its brilliant creator, God.

Conrad Meyer

I see the OPINION police are at it again.

Barbara Misiaszek

Thankfully, Did you see the comment that was deleted?

John Misiaszek

Conrad Meyer

Nope, other than it was from Mr. Woodward as referenced below.

Comment deleted.
Barbara Misiaszek

So, you recommend going to Tractor Supply to get your meds? Go for it Mr. Woodward, I wish you the best. Let's see if eliminating masking results in additional cases in our schools over the next month with out positivity rate again exceeding 10%. Then when older individuals get infected let's see what happens in our intensive care unit and if "elective" surgeries or procedures are again be curtailed.

John Misiaszek

Barbara Misiaszek

I nominate Matt Garner, current communications director at Our County Board of Health, He is the go to guy over there.

John Misiaszek

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