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‘Tis the season

This year’s November COVID-19 spike looks almost identical to last year’s late fall surge, but this time around the pandemic is more ferocious and, sadly, more deadly. Over the past month, Marathon County has lost on average one person a day to the coronavirus. The new strain of the disease doesn’t only prey on the elderly and infirm but can attack younger, middle age adults. These infections are medically more complicated, requiring more staff and technology. The result has been full hospitals, not just here in central Wisconsin but across the state.

What we have is the definition of a crisis. Anybody who gets in a car wreck, gets cancer, needs a knee replaced or has a heart attack may find it difficult to get the care they need with hospitals overrun with COVID-19 patients. Patients are being transported to far-flung hospitals, wherever there is an open bed.

The public can do something about this. Get vaccinated. The Marathon County Health Department reports that fully vaccinated people are being hospitalized at a rate of 15.7 per 100,000 people. People who are not vaccinated fill up hospital beds at a rate of 248.2 per 100,000.

Getting the shot means you are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 and leaving open a hospital bed for someone who desperately needs it.

Back at the start of the pandemic, the state and local government imposed lockdowns and mask mandates in order to “flatten the curve” and make sure that hospitals were not overwhelmed. Fast forward a year plus, the government has backed away from such measures and, despite full hospitals, there is little political will to close schools, lock up restaurants and bars and ban public gatherings.

This means that it is up to individuals to fight the coronavirus. We ask that people get vaccinated. It’s the right thing to do.

We are entering the holiday season and this year, like other years, people in this community will be generous in donating canned goods to local food pantries, generous in cash donations to the Salvation Army and other charities and generous to family members with precious gifts set under the Christmas tree.

We want to tap that generous spirit and ask people to think about giving a truly special gift. Get vaccinated. Give the gift of life.

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