Christmas is just under a week away. Sadly, the 2020 holiday season looks very different from recent years. Instead of celebratory community events, festive family gatherings, and holiday parties with friends and neighbors, Christmas 2020 feels subdued with many events transformed into virtual gatherings or canceled altogether.
COVID-19 recommendations continue to urge people to avoid gatherings with anyone outside of their immediate households.
The CDC has also renewed their Thanksgiving travel recommendations and have urged the public to forgo holiday travel this December in part due to the recent rise in new COVID-19 cases that are in part attributed to travel and gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday. While changes to what we have come to expect for the holidays are difficult, the precautions are necessary.
The data paints a clear picture — new cases of COVID-19 are surging in Lee County.
At the start of September, the county reported 1,423 cases with total deaths at 13; by October the number jumped by 217 to reach 1,640 cases with deaths reported at 15; by November there were 470 additional cases bringing the total to 2,110 and 11 new deaths, raising the total to 20; by December, another 394 cases brought the total to 2,504 with 7 additional deaths for a total of 31.
We are at the mid-point of December and as of Thursday, county cases had already increased by 523 to reach 3,027 and an additional 7 deaths had been reported bringing the total to 38.
While current knowledge of the virus suggests that the majority of individuals who get COVID-19 will recover after experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, there remains a sizeable number of those infected who will experience severe symptoms, which may require hospitalization or lead to death.
For this reason and to help protect the health and safety of family, friends and neighbors, the county encourages all members of the community to follow the COVID-19 guidance and recommendations of our leading healthcare organizations to help slow the spread of the virus in Lee County.
The 2020 holiday season may look different, but the spirit of the season remains the same. Giving and receiving the gifts of caring and kindness may go a long way in healing some of the stress of 2020 that has hurt the physical and mental health of many. Remember also that although it may feel like the pandemic will go on forever, we know that it will eventually end and we will find normalcy again.
Until then, we can appreciate the time we spend with our household members; the new and creative traditions we are starting with extended family and friends; and the ability to show our support, appreciation and respect for others with simple actions like wearing a mask, waiting our turn and washing our hands.
And next year is already looking brighter with news that COVID-19 vaccines are on their way to Lee County. The Lee County Health Department will have more information to share over the coming weeks. We know the rollout will take some time but the outlook for 2021 is promising!
We hope you have a safe and happy holiday — Merry Christmas Lee County!
Jamie Brown is spokeswoman for Lee County Government.