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Don’t Relax Precautions

Two weeks ago, there were just 16 active cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Panhandle. As of Sunday, there were 32.

Do we get the message? Let us hope so.

When Gov. Jim Justice more than a month ago began easing restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus, too many West Virginians assumed the ball game was over. It is not, and the visiting team — COVID-19 — is staging a comeback.

Two weeks ago, a cumulative total of 125 cases of the disease had been diagnosed in Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, Tyler and Wetzel counties. During the weekend, the number had spiked to 143. More worrisome has been the doubling of active cases.

Most of them, 21, are in Ohio County. Many of the new cases have been linked to members of a church in Wheeling.

A substantial number of the new cases probably are due to a dramatic increase in testing for the virus. For several weeks, limited availability of testing kits restricted the number of people who could be checked. Now, however, the tests are readily available to virtually all who want them performed.

An upsurge in coronavirus activity is being seen statewide, too. Two weeks ago, the number of active cases stood at 605. By Sunday it had gone up to 770.

As was the case in Wheeling, we know a significant number of new cases statewide are linked to churches. For weeks, many had suspended in-person services. More gatherings for religious services are reflected in new COVID-19 cases.

Additionally, the virus is being brought back to West Virginia by some people who left for vacations and came home infected — and communicable. Myrtle Beach, S.C., has been a trouble spot in that regard.

So, if you haven’t been to church or on vacation recently, no problem — right?

Wrong, most emphatically. Those who have contracted the disease during the past few weeks, from whatever source, often are out among the rest of us for several days before they become aware of the need to self-quarantine. That puts everyone at risk.

Public health officials are stressing the need to continue taking precautions against COVID-19. You know what they are.

Understand, also, that this is no time to let down our guard. Unless we are very careful, the coronavirus will come roaring back in our area.

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