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Tuesday’s Daily Record front page featured a juxtaposition to fit the times. On the top of the page was a story about people being cautiously optimistic about the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions at the end of June and on the bottom of the page was a story about concerns of KVH physicians about that facility’s ability to cope with the volume of COVID-19 patients.

Hopes are rising for a return to “normalcy” and so are COVID-19 cases. And, not only are the cases rising but so is the severity of the symptoms being seen by younger patients than at the outset of the pandemic.

Other than the early days when no one understood what was happening and COVID-19 spread rapidly in nursing homes, this may be the most dangerous time in the pandemic.

There have been two reported deaths in this county related to COVID-19 since the start of April. Our neighbors in Grant County reported five more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, including a man in his 80s, two women in their 60s, a man in his 50s and a man in his 20s. According to the Grant County Health Department, all had underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk and none were vaccinated.

Not that all is doom and gloom. Unlike the early days there is a solution — there is a vaccine.

The reality is restrictions are easing. If you are fully vaccinated the guidance now is that you don’t need to wear a mask in public. The issue is we are not even at 50% of our population in this county vaccinated. Odds are a person you see without a mask is not vaccinated.

If nothing else, this scenario should encourage people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Not everyone is going to get vaccinated. Setting aside the entirely nonsensical excuse of not getting vaccinated for political reasons, there are people who have questions about the speed of which the vaccine was developed and the lack of knowledge of any long-term impacts.

It is true that this vaccine was developed far faster than the vaccines for the childhood illnesses, but it is also true the vaccine was developed with entirely different technology and had the benefit of basically limitless funding on a worldwide scale.

What we know about the vaccine to-date is overwhelmingly encouraging — very effective with few adverse side effects. But there is no one who took the COVID-19 vaccine two or three years ago who we can study to determine unintended consequences.

There is an element of trust here, that those who study and develop vaccines believe it to be safe and effective. But there is also a lack of trust among some in science.

It all comes back to what you do know. COVID-19 can kill — there are 30 deaths associated with it in this county. Younger people infected may not die, but could be left with respiratory issues, short-term if not longer.

Just as we lack future knowledge of what the vaccine could do, we lack a vision for what life will be like 20 years from now for someone who experienced COVID in his or her 30s.

We live in a time when forces see a benefit (financial and power) in convincing us we are divided, that we must distrust all those who do not share our specific set of beliefs.

We all want to be healthy, though, to live our lives as long as possible, in the best health as possible. From that commonality we should be able to move forward. We have to, for our personal health and the health of the community.

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