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Stay vigilant as restrictions loosen

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been almost a year since COVID-19 started to dominate our lives.

We’ve all dealt with major disruptions and many of us have lost loved ones, neighbors and friends.

As the sharp wind and gray sky of winter gives way to the brighter, warmer days of spring, hope is on the way in the form of multiple vaccines and more opportunities to get out and see people again. Schools are on the verge of re-opening, so students can start getting back on track educationally and renew the social bonds that are essential to the process of growing up.

We’ve earned these chances by doing our part. Most of us have worn our masks like we’re told to, stayed socially distanced and washed our hands multiple times a day. We’ve mastered ordering takeout online, attending church from our home and celebrating major holidays and events with family only or in much smaller groups.

Good for us and our reward comes in the form of being able to socialize more, travel more and attend sporting and other outdoor events in greater numbers.

That’s a very good thing for our local restaurants, bars, theaters and hotels, who have struggled tremendously during this restricted period.

However, the way to continue the progress we’ve made is to continue to stay vigilant. Keep wearing your mask, stay a reasonable distance away from those not in your immediate family and continue to wash your hands frequently.

The biggest new opportunity is to get vaccinated as soon as you can. Don’t worry about which vaccine is “better”. All three are very effective and all the medical experts say they will prevent hospitalization and death for the vast majority, if not all, of the people who take them.

New COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are down to levels not seen since the fall and they will go lower still if we all continue to do our part and practice responsible behavior.

Vidant Health CEO Mike Waldrum put it very well recently. “More people die coming off Mount Everest than going up,” he said. “It’s because people often lose their concentration and diligence. They let their guard down because they think they are done, but they’re not.”

The battle against COVID-19 is not finished yet either, but thanks to all of our efforts, we’re making great progress. Let’s not backslide now.