Rome News-Tribune. October 9, 2021.

Editorial: Families are mourning too many, it’s time for all of us to protect each other

We’ve lost over 80 people to COVID-19 in Floyd County since the beginning of July and many, if not most, of these deaths were caused by a vaccine-preventable illness. We can, and should, stop this pandemic now.

The number of new cases is down and it looks like we’re in a lull. Don’t let this drop in cases fool you; we’ve been here before and we need to take this continuing pandemic seriously.

Our vaccination rates have slowly increased and 41% of Floyd County is vaccinated, according to the Georgia Department of Health.

Northwest Georgia Health District Director Dr. Gary Voccio said this week that people, many of them students returning to school unprotected, caused that surge on top of the virulent Delta variant.

Those who have been infected may have acquired some natural resilience to the virus, but it’s still important to get vaccinated since medical experts don’t know how long that natural immunity lasts, he said. Health officials don’t know how well it protects against getting infected a second time either, Voccio said.

Please get vaccinated.

A note of frustration

It’s really important to realize that our school systems are in place to educate children in a safe learning environment.

That can’t be accomplished using the ostrich approach.

The Floyd County school system has taken the “we don’t see a problem, therefore there can’t be a problem” approach for far too long. We’ve seen this during the pandemic and now we see it after recent issues at Coosa High School.

While things are rarely as cut and dried as they seem on social media, there have obviously been enough problems at the school to brook concern.

The local NAACP chapter, earlier this year, penned a letter voicing concerns and leaders asked for those concerns to be addressed. While school officials have taken action in individual events, the local NAACP chapter does not believe the systemic issues have been addressed.

The problem with only addressing smaller, individual incidents is that overarching issues continue and those smaller incidents spin off like tornadoes in a larger storm.

It’s time to show some leadership. It’s time to address concerns in an open and consistent fashion.

A note of appreciation

We’d like to take a moment to recognize a couple of people this newspaper has always respected for doing their part to make this community a better place. In this case both of them happen to be named John.

Former city manager John Bennett is still recovering from heart surgery. If you ever dealt with John as he led the city for over 30 years, you always knew he was the right person for the job.

More than just competence and ability, there was a personal and emotional investment in this community. Rome owes a lot to his leadership and we wish him well in his recovery.

When he retired in 2014, Bennett said Rome is “alive and well, but it needs nurturing and cultivating, like a garden, to continue to be a unique modern city.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Another person who left this community a better place for his efforts is John Quinlivan, the now former CEO of Redmond Regional Medical Center. He retired last week from that post after the purchase of that hospital by AdventHealth was finalized.

There’s a lot to be said for someone not afraid to speak forthrightly from an educated viewpoint, and for us at the newspaper that was John Q.

At the beginning of the pandemic, he was a source of clarity concerning what we could expect as the original strain of COVID-19 began to spread in Northwest Georgia. In that time of uncertainly his perspective was valued and appreciated.

Even if he’s been unhappy with our coverage at times, and he was, there was always space for an actual and intelligent conversation. All of us need more of that these days.

Thank you for reading.

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Dalton Citizen-News. October 12, 2021.

Editorial: Wednesday’s Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic in Dalton is an easy, convenient way to protect yourself and others from the flu

The Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic that was scheduled for the Dalton Convention Center last month was canceled due to unfortunate rainy weather. But it has been rescheduled for Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Whitfield County Health Department, 800 Professional Blvd.

According to the health department, the shot is no-cost if covered by one of several health plans. If paying out of pocket, the cost is still relatively low at $25 for regular flu vaccine and $65 for high dose flu vaccine for people 65 and older. Both vaccines guard against four different strains of flu.

Cash, checks, Medicare, Medicaid, Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Coventry, Humana, and United Healthcare Insurance will be accepted. For more information, call (706) 279-7900 or visit www.nghd.org.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends most people 6 months and older get one. Many people forego their annual flu shots for a variety of reasons.

“Despite the many benefits offered by flu vaccination, only about half of Americans get an annual flu vaccine and flu continues to cause millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths. Many more people could be protected from flu if more people got vaccinated.”

These are the benefits of an annual flu shot, according to the CDC:

• Can keep you from getting sick with flu.

• Has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.

• Can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization.

• Prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. For example, during 2019-2020 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 105,000 flu-related hospitalizations.

• Is an important preventive tool for people with certain chronic health conditions.

• Has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who have had a cardiac event in the past year.

• Can reduce the risk of a flu-related worsening of chronic lung disease (for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) requiring hospitalization.

• Helps protect pregnant people during and after pregnancy.

• Can be lifesaving in children.

• Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Wednesday’s Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic is a quick, convenient and easy way to get your flu shot. We hope you are able to take advantage of the opportunity.

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Valdosta Daily News. October 12, 2021.

Editorial: Take advantage of early voting

Early voting is here.

Many voters living in cities get to decide who will lead and represent them in the coming four years.

Several men and women are running for various city posts in Lowndes County and throughout Georgia. In some cities, every registered voter living in that city can cast a ballot for mayor, city council member or school board member. In other cities, only registered voters living in specific districts included in the election are eligible to vote.

If you’re living in an unincorporated part of a county, you likely aren’t eligible to vote for anything this election cycle.

In Lowndes County, municipal elections include three Valdosta City Council seats where the incumbents are seeking reelection with no opposition. Valdosta Board of Education has nearly a handful of contested races. Dasher, Hahira, Lake Park and Remerton also have city council and a few mayor races in this municipal election.

The Nov. 2 Election Day will be here before you know it but more and more people have opted to cast a ballot during the early voting period and why shouldn’t they? It is convenient, lines are not long and you can do it at various times through the day during the three weeks that have been set aside for early voting.

We encourage our readers to be informed voters. No one should vote for someone simply because they think the candidate is a nice person, they attend church together, are in the same civic club, are relatives or part of a certain social circle. You should vote for the person you think will do the best job.

Campaigns should be considered job interviews.

Elections should be more about principle than politics.

The vote is our ultimate recourse.

You may have concerns regarding how city government is doing the people’s business. You may have concerns about government transparency, government spending, city taxes, business regulations or government services. Who do you support?

Do you know the positions of the candidate(s) you support on these and other relevant issues facing our community?

The voting booth is our opportunity to influence the future of our city.

We elect mayors, members of city councils and school boards to make important decisions that will affect our city’s future.

We hope turnout is robust this go-round. It is disheartening that only a small portion of registered voters tend to make it to the polls.

Voting is a right and a privilege.

Be informed. Make wise decisions based on ideologies, past performance, platforms and matters of principle, rather than on personality, popularity or party alone.

Then, go vote.

The election is scheduled for Nov. 2. Early voting runs 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Oct. 12-16; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Oct. 18-23; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Oct. 25-29, at the Lowndes Board of Elections office, 2808 N. Oak St. More information: Call (229) 671-2850.

END

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