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For Immediate Release — October 8, 2021
Public Health Statement: Haywood County is in the midst of a public health crisis
Haywood County is struggling to cope with a very unusual situation, two separate states of emergency happening at the same time. A month and a half ago, historic flooding brought loss and anguish to our community, and while that is devastation enough, for nearly two years now COVID-19 has threatened the health of every one of us.
It has damaged the health of those who suffer prolonged hospital stays or long-haul cases, and in fact, has taken the lives of 136 precious souls.
It is understandable, given all that we have been through, to feel a certain fatigue toward the reality of the situation we find ourselves in.
It is not, however, excusable to believe there is nothing that can be done about it.
Just as efforts are being made to heal the lives and properties of those damaged by the storm, we all have a part to play to help ease the crisis that COVID-19 has created.
Two simple measures can help get us out of crisis mode and into a situation that is more manageable.
The simplest thing that everyone can do is to wear a mask any time you are in public, around people who do not live in your house. The most dangerous places can also, unfortunately, be the places we tend to feel safe, like at churches, in social settings, or at close friends’ homes.
We trust each other, but viruses don’t care. It doesn’t know the difference between trusted friends, loved ones, or church family. It happily spreads amongst us before symptoms can be felt or apparent to everyone.
By the time you feel sick, it is too late, you’ve probably already infected someone else. Mask wearing prevents you from spreading the virus in that time before symptoms appear.
The other very effective tool we have to get us out of this COVID nightmare is vaccination. No vaccine is 100% effective but being vaccinated will help to keep you from developing a severe case of COVID if you do get it.
The vaccine is safe, and it is working. Nearly all COVID hospitalizations are for people who are unvaccinated.
We don’t need to fear COVID, we need to fight it. Unlike in the beginning, now we have the tools to do so, we just need to choose to use them.
The current level of infection in this community means everyone is affected somehow, even if you never get COVID. The healthcare system, public health, hospital, and EMS are overrun, which affects the quality of healthcare for everyone.
When EMS units are so busy that they are not always available to answer calls in a timely manner, anyone can be affected by this crisis. In some cases, health care is being delayed or even compromised.
As the pandemic has progressed, we learned that stay-at-home orders have worked, but at a cost that is not sustainable or preferable.
More than a year in, fatigue has set in, and we no longer want to face the fact that COVID is taking its toll.
At this time, most cases are happening when family members bring the virus in from outside the home usually from work, group activities, gatherings, and events.
The new case rates have slowed some over the past week and that is a trend we want to see continue. We can contribute to this positive progress and ease this crisis significantly if we all do our part.
If you haven’t been vaccinated, we strongly urge you to consider it again. Talk to your loved ones and friends who are vaccinated. Talk to your doctor. Consider all your options and make an informed choice.
At the very least, wear a mask in public.
For those who are vaccinated, share your experience. Encourage vulnerable loved ones to consider vaccination. And wear your mask as an example and as an extra protective measure.