An ever-present threat

Opinion: Editorials

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The Landmark View

It's been an eventful week, right? With a U.S. presidential election playing out over a period of days, followed by an attempt on the part of the loser to somehow maintain his grasp on power while surrogates announce from a landscaping company's parking lot that he's the victim of some elaborate conspiracy – that's some "Twilight Zone" banana republic stuff right there, folks – it's easy to forget there's something else going on.

Everyone is weary of the COVID-19 pandemic and its, to date, inescapable grasp on our daily lives.

And, as a result, we're letting our guard down.

The warning signs have been flashing since the end of August, when positivity rates still hovered in the 3- to 4-percent range. New cases were beginning to tick up to the point that by the beginning of October, they were starting to look similar to the first wave.

We've come to grasp since those early days, when we didn't know exactly what we were dealing with, the kinds of things we can do to limit transmission. Washing hands, wearing a mask, maintaining our distance from others. 

For the most part we still do those things when we're out and about, running errands, shopping, walking through the neighborhood.

As November has dawned, however, the virus is spreading like wildfire. During the worst of the first wave in May and into June, the most new cases Brookfield saw in a one-week period was 31.

On Nov. 3, the village topped that record, when 41 people tested positive during the prior week. That paled in comparison with what would transpire in the next seven days. From the morning on Nov. 3 to the morning of Nov. 10, Brookfield recorded 110 new cases.

Riverside's past one-week record was 18. Last week, the village saw 54. In North Riverside the prior one-week record of 18 was smashed by 32 new cases.

No one has died from COVID-19 in any of the villages since roughly mid-July, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner, which may be fueling some belief that somehow we're got this thing licked.

But, we don't. The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting that hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are both up 150 percent since Oct. 1. During the first week of November, the average number of people hospitalized daily has returned to levels not seen since mid-May.

The world got a gleam of light early this week when the German pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced that a vaccine candidate had seen an efficacy rate of more than 90 percent in trials.

That does not mean a vaccine is imminent or that it will be distributed worldwide any time soon. Clinical trials continue on that vaccine candidate.

In the meantime, we have to recognize that COVID-19 is still a dangerous threat to our personal health, our economy's health and our communities' health. For the common good, we need personal investment to ensure that health.

Now is not the time to give up. We can bend the curve again. So, let's get started.

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