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It’s not over yet

Crowded beaches, bustling boat ramps, time spent outdoors in the company of family and friends; these are all hallmarks of Memorial Day weekend. A cursory look at photos and videos of North Carolina beaches this weekend might lead one to believe that things are back to normal; business as usual.

Yet, at the same time, the United States came close to marking a grim milestone this Memorial Day weekend — 100,000 Americans dead from COVID-19. The front-page headline in the New York Times, accompanied by a multi-page spread naming 1,000 people who have succumbed to the virus, read, “U.S. deaths near 100,000, an incalculable loss.”

Call it what you will — fake news, overinflated death tolls, sensationalist hype — but the fact remains that thousands of people are dying daily from COVID-19 complications.

Here in Beaufort County, we’ve been fortunate compared to other parts of the state and country. So far, there have been fewer than 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19 locally. Most of those have recovered, and no deaths have been attributed to the virus in Beaufort County.

We should consider ourselves fortunate for that fact. Yes, one is probably less likely to contract the virus here than in a densely packed urban environment. But make no mistake, now is not the time to throw caution into the wind.

With a population of close to 47,000, it’s easy to say that Beaufort County’s 30-some cases of COVID-19 in Beaufort County are miniscule and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It’s also easy to say, ‘I’m tired of these restrictions and am going to do what I want.’

Just because we’re tired of restrictions and interruptions to our daily lives and habits (we all are), doesn’t mean that COVID-19 is going away. Just because we might feel like the risk of contracting the virus is minimal doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.

So should you have gotten out on the beaches this weekend, or had that big family cookout? It’s not our place to say. That’s a choice each person has to make, and it’s his or her choice alone. But in making that choice, one should give some consideration to the potential consequences for one’s self and others.

Get the facts before you make that decision. For the sake of friends, neighbors and loved ones, don’t make the mistake of being uninformed. We may all be tired of the coronavirus, but acting like it doesn’t exist won’t make it so.