Editorial: As COVID-19 infections run wild in Whitfield County, protect yourself and others

Whitfield County has reached the top of the Georgia new coronavirus (COVID-19) leaderboard -- and it's not a spot where we want to be.

Over the past two weeks, Whitfield County has become a white-hot COVID-19 cluster as we lead the state in virus cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, according to the state Department of Public Health.

During that 14-day period, Whitfield County had 988 cases per 100,000 residents. To put that in perspective, over the past two weeks Fulton County has had 270 cases per 100,000 residents. Whitfield County's population: 104,628. Fulton County's population: 1,063,937.

Since the pandemic began in early spring, Whitfield County has had 7,024 confirmed, cumulative COVID-19 cases and 75 deaths attributed to the virus. Just this month, the county has added another 1,332 COVID-19 cases. And the infection rate is showing few signs of slowing down.

The United States is hitting daily records for COVID-19 cases and deaths. Many states are as well.

Medical professionals fear the pandemic will continue to worsen in the winter months as cold weather forces us into poorly ventilated indoor spaces. The winter holiday trifecta of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's may also lead to more COVID-19 cases as people eschew recommendations from the medical community and hold large get-togethers and parties. Many college students are returning home for winter break, possibly bringing the virus home with them. And many of us are fighting virus fatigue -- we are ready for the pandemic to be over so our lives can get back to normal.

But normal isn't happening any time soon. Especially as many of us ignore the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as we refuse to wear masks and/or practice social distancing. The lack of masks and social distancing is evident all over town.

We have to do better.

Wear a mask.

Keep your distance.

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