COVID-19: It’s not over yet

We’re nearing the three-month mark since Alabama’s first COVID-19 case was detected. For many of us it’s been a long three months, fraught with mask wearing, hand washing, cough covering and social distancing – all aimed at “flattening the curve” and reducing the spread of the virus.

Like areas across the state, nation and world, our community has tried to come together even as we stayed far apart. Less hugging; more waving. Less gathering; more video calling. Less getting out; more staying home.

Now as the state continues to loosen restrictions and businesses reopen, things are starting to feel more normal. Church buildings have opened their doors, grocery store shelves are refilling with supplies and life is, in many ways, resuming its usual course.

And yet, we have to remember: COVID-19 is not over yet.

As of Tuesday, cases had surpassed 600 in Franklin County according to the Alabama Department of Public Health – more than any other surrounding or nearby county, constituting our own little northwest Alabama hotspot.

We urge you not to let your guard down but to continue best practices as recommended by the ADPH, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health organization.

Practice good hygiene: cover coughs and sneezes, don’t touch your face, and wash hands often. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others not in your household. Use cloth face coverings when in public. Clean and disinfect frequently used items and touched surfaces often.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to it.

With summer fun getting into full swing, we know the temptation will be present to feel like everything is back to normal. We all want to have cookouts, pool parties, picnics and playdates. We want to go out for ice cream, meet up for pick-up ballgames and spend long pleasant evenings with our friends and neighbors.

This is, however, no ordinary summer, and we can’t yet enjoy all of our ordinary pastimes.

It’s why the City of Russellville has cancelled Jam on Sloss Lake. It’s why our public libraries are forgoing summer reading programs. It’s why the Town of Phil Campbell won’t be having the Hoedown.

So although we know observing COVID-19 precautions has become tiresome for many, we want to join the chorus of voices encouraging you to stay the course. We can’t live in fear, but we do need to continue being careful, watching out for both ourselves and those around us by taking every measure possible to avoid spreading the coronavirus in our community.

It’s like Gov. Key Ivey said in announcing the latest changes to the safer-at-home order: “It’s not realistic to think we are going to be able to keep everyone totally isolated forever … We’re going to continue putting personal responsibility on each and every individual citizen … It takes us all of us being vigilant and adhering to these social distancing guidelines in order to stop the spread of this disease.”

It takes all of us.