As Franklin County continues to see higher-than-normal daily case counts, the local leadership that has worked to curb that trend should be lauded.
During Tuesday’s press conference updating the public on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine gave a shout out to local leaders.
“We very much appreciate the cooperation and aid of public officials in Franklin County who have heard our call to action and supported it with their own communications,” Levine said.
Enosburg and the surrounding towns of Franklin, Richford, Sheldon and Montgomery have all seen an increase in rates of new cases over the past two weeks, according to a Feb. 9 notice from the Vermont Department of Health. Levine said during Tuesday’s press conference that cases in the county seem to be spreading through community transmission, more than any particular outbreaks.
Following this development, Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Lynn Cota announced Friday that the district would switch to remote learning until Friday, Feb. 19.
Teachers and staff reacted with relief to the news.
“As a teacher, I am relieved to hear that our district has made the decision to go remote next week,” said Ashley Goodwin, a middle school teacher at Sheldon Elementary School.
Cota wasn’t the only one to spread the message. A cursory browse through municipal websites in Franklin County shows that a number of towns have published the warning verbatim on their websites. In addition to the usual individual protocols that we have all been living under for the last year, it is this kind of communication at the local level that is needed to keep everyone safe.
This is particularly pertinent now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that a more infectious strain of the virus could become the dominant strain as soon as next month.
And it’s far from over locally. On Wednesday, a notice from the state said that cases are still rising in Franklin County; specifically, cases were still rising in Enosburgh and Franklin, as well as Fairfield and Swanton this week.
I agree with Levine’s assessment that we are in the midst of a race. On one hand we have vaccinations, which are speeding up thanks to a ramped up supply from the federal government. On the other, we have the virus, which is evolving to become more infectious.
Smack dab in the middle is all of us. How this ends — and how soon this ends — hinges on us staying the course. Thank you Lynn Cota and other local leaders for helping us keep our eye on the prize.
Cameron Paquette is the editor of the St. Albans Messenger. He can be reached at email@example.com