There’s a good chance that you have witnessed or will witness another coronavirus record being set today.

The virus is surging everywhere, including right here in the Central Susquehanna Valley.

Geisinger CEO Dr. Jaewon Ryu said during a recent virtual press briefing that the positive test rate for COVID-19 in September and October was 6.3 percent with nearly 4,000 combined positive cases. In July and August, the rate and case total was 3.4 percent and about 2,100, he said.

“COVID is in our communities and it’s spreading. We are seeing that,” Ryu said.

This is not a hoax. This is not political.

Systemwide over the past two weeks, Geisinger is seeing a COVID-19-positive patient every two hours, according to Ryu.

In the United States, an average of 930 people are dying each day. On Tuesday, the country recorded its one-millionth case in November.

This is not going away. It’s getting worse.

“The virus is spreading in a largely uncontrolled fashion across the vast majority of the country,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious-disease expert at Vanderbilt University.

This is also bigger than the United States, and far bigger than the election. It’s global.

In Europe, intensive care units (ICUs) are overloaded. France’s ICU capacity is 92.5%. One hospital in the southern city of Marseille brought in refrigerated trucks due to an expected rise in ICU deaths there.

It’s November. We’ve been dealing with this for eight months now. All of this is happening even though we know better how to treat the virus and how to prevent it.

Ryu expressed concern that the winter months will naturally force more activities and personal interaction indoors, potentially increasing the spread of both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu. He cautioned against large gatherings over the holidays, a warning already given by state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.

Danville Area School District just announced a shift to a virtual learning model starting Nov. 19. Midd-West School District is keeping older grades learning remotely while allowing elementary students to resume in-person classes — Superintendent Rick Musselman said “We’re still seeing students in the middle and high schools testing positive for COVID, experiencing symptoms or who are presumed positive. We’re not seeing that in the elementary schools.” Social distancing and wearing face masks have kept large outbreaks out of schools throughout the Susquehanna Valley and the state.

The one constant, from medical experts the world over, is the effectiveness of face masks in stopping the spread of germs and viruses, like COVID-19.

It’s common to see people in foreign countries wearing masks during flu season — which is upon us and adds a whole other layer of safety concern.

It’s been said many ways, many times, by many people, but it is worth repeating: Wear a mask to protect the people around you — your barber, your favorite downtown retail shop owner, your neighbor’s child who works at the grocery store — from your germs and keep them from becoming a statistic. 

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by News Editor Eric Pehowic and Digital Editor Dave Hillaird.

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