COVID-19 is surging again and less than half of Floyd Countians are taking needed precautions

By ignoring simple precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, Floyd Countians are playing Russian Roulette with their lives and the lives of others.
Fans at a Floyd County High School game in the gym, where masks are required...or at least they are supposed to be worn properly.

Virginia’s daily COVID-19 report by its Department of Health says new cases rose by nearly 6,000 in Wednesday’s report, along with more than 50 new deaths. Since topping one million total infections, the Old Dominion has added 34,107 more in less than a week.

Nationally, restaurants are closing (again), and retailers admit they are looking at one of the word holiday spending seasons in decades. Nationwide, 52.3 million have come down with the virus and 830.990 have died, says the Centers for Disease Control.

America has the highest number of cases of any nation in the world and the highest number of deaths, says the World Health Organization.

In Virginia, 67.1% of the population is “fully vaccinated” but that percentage drops to under 50% in Floyd County. Wednesday’s report by the Virginia Department of Health says that just 16.5% of the county’s population has received the now important “booster” shot, and the percentage of those with the original recommended two-sort dosage is 48.6%.

In government, which is supposed to set examples of safe behavior, the county board of supervisors has a new member from Indian Valley who, while campaigning for the job, refused to wear a mask in a public meeting of the school board and had to be removed forcibly by a county sheriff’s deputy.

Kalinda Bechtold, the new supervisor is a hardcore supporter of former disgraced president Donald Trump and an ally of Marie March, the county’s new delegate to the General Assembly. Both admit they are looking forward to incoming GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s promise to do away with mask mandates.

In grocery stores and other retail establishments, we see customers without masks outnumbering those who wear them, even though signs at the entrance say only those “fully vaccinated” are to required to wear them, even though health officials say everyone should in such situations.

Ask one of those not wearing masks if they are vaccinated and the general answer is either “none of your damn business” or “hell no!”

One responded: “Well, I see you are not vaccinated.”

“Really,” I said. “What makes you think that?”

“You’re wearing a mask,” she said.

“I always try to wear a mask,” I said, “even though both my wife and I are fully vaccinated.”

“That’s overkill,” she said.

“We don’t think so,” I responded. She walked away, muttering.

In Floyd Circuit Court this week, people are supposed to wear masks in the Courtroom. Some do, some don’t. At the prosecutors’ table, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ryan Hupp worse his mask. His boss, Eric Branscom, did not.

“Sometimes, I do, sometimes I don’t,” Branscom said after Tuesday’s hearings. “It depends.”

Depends on what?

I was, frankly, surprised that Branscom didn’t wear a mask. He usually does. I hope it was an oversight.

My alma mater, The University of Virginia, announced Wednesday that all staff and students must be fully vaccinated, including the booster shots, before the Spring term starts. Evidence of the shots must be filed with the school by Feb. 1.

At Floyd County High School, masks are required inside the school buildings and indoor athletic events, but students, and more than a few adults, are lax on following the rules. Principal Barry Hollandsworth works hard to see the masks are worn fully and properly, but at crowded events, it is not always possible to catch the slackers.

As a general rule, Amy and I don’t leave our garage for trips elsewhere without masks on. We listen to the recommendations of the Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading expert on infectious diseases, said this week that permanently wearing masks may become a regular part of airline travel. We have traveled over the years to other nations — like Japan — where wearing masks is normal because of pollution and toxin in the air.

Doing so is not difficult. Claiming it causes problems breathing is too often a flimsy excuse. Amy has severe asthma and I have COPD, and the masks don’t bother us. Medical experts in breathing and respiratory illnesses say that masks can aid those with breathing difficulties.

That, however, does not matter to those who put politics above safety and threats to others ahead of concern to public needs.

I’m not that surprised at others who ignore safety. For too many of them, living outside the rules and thinking of the safety of others is a lost feeling that we see far too much now in our society.

(Updated with additional information)

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