Record editorial: The pandemic isn’t over. So why are we easing up?
If anyone thought the pandemic would end quickly once a vaccine was available, the early weeks of the vaccination campaign in Summit County have refuted that notion.
The county is receiving only about 400 doses a week, far from enough to quickly inoculate even the limited groups of people currently eligible for the vaccine, such as teachers, first responders and people 70 and older. Already, there has been frustration with the pace of vaccinations, though the county says there isn’t much it can do to speed it up until greater supply becomes available.
The slow rollout should come as no surprise. Even before a single shot was administered, officials were clear that it would be months before most members of the public would have access to the vaccine, and that we would need to continue following strict measures to contain the spread of the virus.
It’s been disheartening, then, to see the rate of new cases accelerate in recent weeks, fueled by the holidays, despite the pleas of health experts to act responsibly, avoid gatherings and be as cautious as possible.
Collectively, we’re falling short. Flatten the curve? That went out the window a long time ago, and now the spike during March, when fear about the virus was at its peak, looks more like a bump.
How fast has the virus spread of late? Over the previous two weeks ending Thursday, 685 cases were confirmed in the county. To put that into context, it took us more than four months to hit that number after the first case here was identified last March.
There has been a corresponding rise in hospitalizions, which now number more than 130 since the pandemic began. In total, Summit County has logged approximately 4,300 known cases since the onset of the pandemic, meaning roughly one in 10 residents has contracted the disease. Our community is fortunate to have seen fewer fatalities relative to other areas of the state with similar case numbers.
There are signs the worst of the post-holiday surge is behind us. The number of active cases in the county is down from its peak earlier in the month but remained higher than at any other point in the pandemic before Christmas.
With months to go in this health crisis, the numbers we’re seeing make it abundantly clear: We need to be more diligent.
There’s every reason to believe we’ll reach herd immunity through vaccination. But that, as it’s now obvious, will take time. Until then, we can’t act like the pandemic is over, no matter how much we wish it were.
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Our view: You may not be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine yet. But how about a dose of optimism? For perhaps the first time in the pandemic, the outlook seems optimistic.