COVID-19, the virus that shut down Beaufort County

Published 5:01 pm Thursday, June 27, 2024

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After about 5 years, it is a good time to reflect on COVID-19 and the damage it has done.  I am not a doctor so my opinion may not be sound on certain items.

The COVID-19 pandemic is fading into its 5th year.  I honestly thought it was gone but people are still getting it.  Adults over 65 are still advised to get another dose of the vaccine.

The variants of COVID which exist are less dangerous than it was in the beginning although older people can still become hospitalized and die from the virus.

In the beginning, I used to follow the number of COVID cases on the Washington Daily News website.  COVID basically did not exist in Beaufort County but then a lot of people got sick and died.  The Mayor of Washington, Mac Hodges, was the first notable person I knew who died.

To me, Mac appeared to be a very healthy person.  Most everyone, including me, miss Mac Hodges.  I thought he had become the face of Washington.

The number of deaths increased and almost everyone was wearing a mask.  Old people in particular were targeted by COVID.  Rest homes were hit particularly hard.

The schools were closed.  Only Walmart, Lowes, the drugstores and food markets were open.  Small businesses, restaurants, and most other stores were shut.  Beaufort County and North Carolina were shut down.  Other states like New Jersey, where my brother lived, was even more restrictive.

It is possible to get COVID-19 if small droplets or particles of the virus enter the nose, mouth or eyes.  It can also be spread by transference of particles from the hands.  I also believe it can be spread through the HVAC systems in a crowded building.  I shopped very early during COVID when the stores were mostly empty.

Everyone was required to wear a mask.  Effective N-95 masks were not available and most people wore what I call fashion masks.  These masks had extremely limited effectiveness and most people didn’t know how to properly fit or wear a mask.  The government did not provide adequate instructions concerning masks.

Slowly things got better and the vaccine came along and helped a lot.  The schools reopened and most kids went back to class.

Shutting down schools did great harm to the kids.  In Beaufort County, there was remote learning but basically an entire school year was lost and we are still recovering from it.  When the schools reopened, several older teachers retired and others left because they didn’t want to be in a classroom where they could be infected by COVID.

The worse thing that happened is the politicians made COVID into a political issue.  COVID-19 is a virus which killed people, it is not a political issue.  All sorts of ridiculous stuff came out of the mouths of the politicians and even more was spread over the Internet.

Granted, the medical professionals made mistakes which are questioned now.  Some people question whether the virus killed anyone or it wasn’t that bad.

It was that bad.  Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again but if it does, we need to be prepared.

Al Klemm is a Washington resident and a former Beaufort County Commissioner.