Tuesday, 17 August 2021
Written by Margaret Dickson
If you feel like the rug has been ripped from under your feet, you are not alone. Just as we began feeling safer about being out and about and around people we do not know, a newer and more virulent COVID-19 variant dubbed Delta, has upended our lives yet again. The current surge is driven by and striking the unvaccinated, seriously sickening them, sending them to hospitals and killing some.
The vaccinated, many of whom are heeding the CDC’s recommendation to re-mask indoors, are far less affected and, if they are affected, they are far less sick. As Aaron Carroll, chief health officer for Indiana University, wrote in The New York Times, “COVID-19 is not even close to a crisis for those who are vaccinated, but it is a true danger to those who are unvaccinated.”
Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services echoes Carroll. “This is a pandemic right now, of the unvaccinated. The virus will find them,” she said. Distressingly, the Delta variant is far more contagious than earlier COVID viruses and can be spread by both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated.
The situation varies widely across the nation, largely reflecting vaccination rates in different states and communities. This is clearly true in North Carolina where one county, Richmond, is currently designated red, meaning “critical community spread.”
Twelve other counties, including Cumberland, are orange, the next highest level. Cumberland’s vaccination rate remains low, with only 30% partially vaccinated and 28% fully vaccinated. Cumberland’s COVID-19 positivity rate is over 9%, with the goal being below 5%.
Statistics can be difficult to absorb but if you remember only one of them, remember this. In North Carolina, 94% of the new COVID-19 diagnoses are now among the unvaccinated.
Health officials acknowledge different reasons why Americans remain unvaccinated. Some are victims of our culture wars — so insistent on their individual right to choose that they are willing to risk their own health and the health of those around them. Others have deep misgivings about past medical treatments within their own communities, and others find getting vaccinated inconvenient — they have no transportation to a vaccination site, cannot leave their jobs, have no child care or other personal situations.
All of that said, health and government officials are doing their darnedest to entice Americans to vaccination centers with cash payments, lottery drawings, free rides and on and on.
They are doing so because none of us, vaccinated or not, cannot really move on until the pandemic is under control, and that is unlikely to happen until more people are vaccinated.
The private sector which has largely stayed away from the vaccination issue is becoming impatient with the pandemic’s effect on our economy and is moving to require vaccinations among employees, saying essentially, “no shot, no job.”
Howls of protest fill our TV screens, but the truth is, the United States has long required vaccines. Children cannot go to school without them and visitors cannot enter our nation or others without them.
If you fear side effects or bizarre notions of microchips entering your body through a thin needle, look around you. Vaccinated people are going about their lives just fine, because vaccinations work.
If you need more incentive, go back to the statistics. Of Americans now testing positive for COVID-19, becoming ill and dying, 94% are unvaccinated.
Tuesday, 03 August 2021
Written by Dan DeBruler
If you've lived in the Fayetteville area any length of time, you probably recall the days before Festival Park.
Festivals lined Hay and Green Streets, baseball was played by a number of different teams and leagues at J.P. Riddle Stadium, and the kids played on the "big whale" as we came together in front of the band shell for events of all kind in Rowan Park.
With all of those behind us, the Cumberland County Parks and Recreation Department have given us lots of new reasons to celebrate in the downtown area.
One of the newer additions may actually have slid in under your radar, as it was opened and dedicated during the time our state government was limiting crowd size and imposing other restrictions on how and where we gathered in 2020.
I'm talking about the new (and fabulous) skate park which opened in Rowan Park in August of last year.
There was little fanfare at the time, but it didn't escape the attention of avid skateboard enthusiasts throughout the county, nor was the opening lost on Terry Grimble, a lifetime proponent and advocate of skateboarding in Fayetteville.
Terry has been outfitting people of all ages with quality gear for as long as I can remember, and was a sane and steady voice calling for something more for the skaters in the county.
As a skateboard dad and grandpa, I love the fact our kids now have somewhere fun, safe and well-maintained to try their latest tricks and learn new ones.
Now that the Olympics has even added both street and park skateboarding competitions to the quadrennial celebration of the world's best athletes, we can almost certainly count on seeing more of our agile young people dropping in to demonstrate their prowess with local onlookers and fellow skaters alike.
We stopped at the skate park for a couple of hours on a July Sunday afternoon, and were thrilled to see plenty of young people skating. The crowd continued to grow as the sun began to back off a little from its midday position, and we watched as some of the more accomplished skaters offered pointers and encouragement to those sitting on the wall in awe. That's good stuff. And something we need more of.
When you combine the skate park with all the Splash Pads and Pools the County Parks and Recreation has added in the past couple of years, they begin to add up to an improved quality of life for the families who call Fayetteville and the surrounding area home.
Now let's get out there and enjoy it!