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Editor’s corner: Recent spike comes at cruelest of times

Warren County School District Superintendent Amy Stewart took charge immediately earlier this month when COVID-19 numbers began rising at an alarming rate. During the school board meeting on Dec. 7, Stewart had a plan in motion that was approved by the school board.

Starting Dec. 9, the district would be in a virtual model. “Everybody has told us it’s only a matter of time,” she said during the meeting. “We’ve said all along it would only be a matter of time when we could no longer function… that this day would be coming.”

Infections have not only hampered this community, they have had a tremendous impact on the learning institutions. Once students went to the remote model last week, winter sports seasons were put on hold by Gov. Tom Wolf only days later.

What was a bitter reality for senior class members of 2020 is looking very similar as we prepare for the start of 2021. We must hope that January ushers in a new year that has much more promise than the current one.

For now, this region seems a long way from the end of October. At that time, there were a total of 66 positive cases.

What has happened in the last 49 days is almost mind-boggling. Through Thursday, there have been 958 cases — and increase of 1,452% with another 25 deaths related to the virus. The biggest reasons for the latest in spikes over the last two months? We’re indoors much more than we were from May to October. We have gathered more often, whether at voting booths, school events or Thanksgiving. And, in reality, this county never really had to take the virus as seriously as neighboring Chautauqua County until now.

When total county cases here are less than 100 from March to the end of October, it is very hard to see why COVID-19 — despite all the warnings –is such a big deal.

Unfortunately, we’re getting a runaway dose of the virus at one of the worst times in the calendar year — right at Christmas. It is one more lump of coal we have endured in a year like no other.

Have a happy — and especially safe — holiday season.

John D’Agostino is the regional editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and the OBSERVER in Dunkirk. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call (716) 487-1111, ext. 253.

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