The Dothan Eagle on the spike in coronavirus cases in Alabama:

From the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, health officials and government leaders beseeched the public to follow a set of guidelines and practices in an effort to “flatten the curve,” a reference to charts tracking the number of cases of COVID-19 over time.

Ten months later, we seem to have achieved that goal; the problem is that we’ve flattened the curve along the wrong axis of the line chart.

The recent surge in cases appears on the chart as a long spike, a chilling representation of a reality that’s clogged hospitals across the state.

Meanwhile, many of our leaders have fallen victim, as have many health care professionals. This week, mayors of at least four Alabama cities — Birmingham, Decatur, Auburn, and Florence — have tested positive for COVID-19.

“I made a mistake and spent time with our family,” Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling told the Decatur Daily. “We had Christmas together. We had meals together and sat around the table and we were not practicing the guidelines,” he said. “With that, now we have sickness. I believe that (family members outside our household) were the last to get it, so quite likely they received it from us. I certainly hope they’ll be OK.”

In Dothan this week, Mayor Mark Saliba and commissioners reminded residents that following the recommended guidelines is imperative — “whether you agree with them or not.”

In the early days of the pandemic, Gov. Kay Ivey effectively shut down the state, ordering stores and restaurants closed and issuing a stay-at-home order. At the time, the situation was far less dire than it has become in recent weeks.

There’s been no public discussion of another shutdown thus far, but logic would suggest it isn’t out of the question.

Alabamians must redouble efforts to bring the spread of COVID-19 under control to keep more restrictive measures off the table.

The (Cookeville) Herald-Citizen on deploying COVID-19 vaccines in Tennessee:

Hundreds of health care workers and first responders in Putnam County received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine as soon as it became available a couple of weeks ago, and this week teachers and those ages 75 and older were given the opportunity to get vaccines at a drive-through clinic.

Since the COVID-19 virus came to Tennessee more than eight months ago, 8,600 of our friends and neighbors in Putnam County have tested positive, 166 have been hospitalized and 119 have lost their lives.

Cookeville Regional Medical Center staff have treated more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients from Putnam and surrounding counties.

Statewide, the highest percentage of deaths have been those ages 81 and older, closely followed by people from 71 to 80 years old.

We’re grateful that our state department of health officials decided to target our most vulnerable populations with vaccines that have been authorized by the FDA for emergency use.

Byrdstown doctor William Todd, who also recently received his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, told us last week that these vaccines are among the most effective ever produced and called the vaccines “a bright ray of hope in this cold, dark winter that we all face.”

It will take many months to get the vaccine into the arms of people across our state and nation. It will still be important to social distance, wash our hands and wear a mask when we are in close contact with other people.

But if these vaccines have a chance at preventing infections and saving lives, we think it’s worth a shot.

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