Editorial: Soaring COVID-19 cases locally is a disturbing trend; take precautions to help stem the spread

On Oct. 13, Whitfield County reported 4,921 cumulative new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

As of Friday, that number had soared to 6,479 cumulative cases.

In the past two weeks, Whitfield County has added 918 cumulative COVID-19 cases. The stunning increase in coronavirus cases has left Whitfield County as one of two counties (out of 159) in the state listed on the Department of Public Health's county-by-county map as deep red.

In the United States, the number of cumulative COVID-19 cases has surpassed 10.7 million, with more than 243,00 deaths attributed to the virus.

Numbers aside, the stories of COVID-19 outbreaks locally are disheartening. Two members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners -- Roger Crossen and Barry Robbins -- contracted the disease, while Chairman Lynn Laughter is quarantined because she was exposed to the virus.

Several offices in the Whitfield County Courthouse have shut down as the virus has swept through the building. Two judges in the Magistrate Court -- Gayle Gazaway and Chief Magistrate Chris Griffin -- were stricken with COVID-19.

With cases surging, we all must be vigilant. The U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control recommends the following guidelines.

• Wash your hands often.

• Avoid close contact.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.

• Cover coughs and sneezes.

• Clean and disinfect.

• Monitor your health daily.

The guideline that has perhaps become the most controversial is wearing a mask. The CDC offers these recommendations when wearing masks:

• Wear masks with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19.

• Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.

• Masks should be worn by people two years and older.

• Masks should not be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

• Do not wear masks intended for healthcare workers, for example, N95 respirators.

• The CDC does not recommend the use of face shields alone. Evaluation of face shields is ongoing but effectiveness is unknown at this time.

• Evaluation of mask and gaiter materials and structure is ongoing.

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