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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