Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Greenwood Commonwealth on the vaccines being developed for COVID-19 and a robot reducing the virus' ability to spread:
We clearly are not past this pandemic yet, with most of the nation seeing a surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths that could be further accelerated (time will soon tell) by the recent Thanksgiving holiday.
Still there is reason to be optimistic that the coronavirus will one day recede, possibly as soon as the middle of next year. It also is a good time to remember that human ingenuity will play an important role in defeating this scourge.
The recent progress in producing an effective vaccine is the most obvious evidence that the virus, like many other infections, ultimately will be controlled. Two vaccine developers, both of which have reported astoundingly good results from their trials, could begin distribution by the end of this month. Other vaccines are also in the pipeline.
There also are plenty of other products already on the market that can reduce the virus’ ability to spread, and a fascinating one earned a story last week in The Washington Post.
The LightStrike device, which uses bursts of ultraviolet light to kill the coronavirus and other infectious organisms, is being used at the airport in San Antonio.
Other airports are looking at the $125,000 device to see if it can make more fliers less nervous about air travel. Here’s your science lesson for the day: Ultraviolet light, which is radiation, can destroy a virus by chemically altering its genetic material.
The 4-foot-tall LightStrike devices, which are pushed around by an operator, uses xenon light that can damage the DNA and RNA of viruses in just two minutes. This particular ultraviolet light is not safe to use around people, and the device has a motion sensor that automatically turns it off if someone comes within range.
The San Antonio airport operators hope that its ability to kill viruses on surfaces such as counters and handrails will reduce the threat of transmission. Xenex, the company that developed the ultraviolet device, originally did so for use in hospitals.
The company says its business in this field has increased by 600% since the pandemic started. Health- care facilities remain the best customers, but hotels, sports facilities and police stations — anywhere people congregate — also are buying it. A school in Texas is giving the device a try, too.
If there is a concern about the LightStrike device, it’s that it does not attack the primary way in which the virus spreads — through airborne transmission. The Post said that disinfecting areas of physical contact has little effect on circulating air that stands a much greater chance of spreading the virus.
Nevertheless, the value of this ultraviolet attack on the coronavirus comes in two different aspects.
If businesses such as hotels and airports get this UV scrub down regularly, maybe it will convince more people that the facilities are safer. If changing travelers’ perceptions, in turn, means a little more business for these industries, a little more money circulating through the economy, it will make an obvious contribution to recovery.
Also, it’s worth noting that this device is just one way to fight back against the coronavirus. The problem solvers of our society love a tough assignment, and they have been handed a once-in-a- century task. The sooner ultraviolet lights, vaccines and any other creations help our lives return to normal, the better.
The Vicksburg Post on the fatigue people are feeling amid the coronavirus pandemic:
We understand the frustration. We understand the fatigue. For eight months — yes, eight months — our community has dealt with the overwhelming impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 29, state health officials confirmed the first case of the virus involving a Warren County resident. The state’s first case had been reported 18 days earlier and it was simply a matter of time before Warren County got on the board.
Since then, more than 1,750 people here have been infected and, sadly, as of Friday, 57 have died as a result of contracting the virus. We understand the frustration. We understand the fatigue. In the early months of the local pandemic, we were shocked as one or two cases were reported each day.
Leaders on the state and local levels began looking at ways to curtail the spread of the virus. The governor shut down schools and abruptly ended high school athletic seasons. Some sectors of the economy were all but shut down by restrictions. Casinos statewide were closed, the cruise industry halted, and tourism — which is our community’s largest industry — came to a screeching halt.
Today, the economy is slowly recovering. Jobs are returning and the restrictions that once forced the closure of many businesses have been removed.
We have learned plenty about the virus. We have learned that masks and social distancing are among the best tools in mitigating its spread. With those measures in place, our businesses can reopen, our people can return to work, and life can start returning to some sort of normalcy. But, that normalcy has not returned fully. We are still forced to cancel many of the events — including holiday events — that we love. This year, Vicksburg will not have a Christmas parade and the annual 105.5 Christmas Caroling event at the Vicksburg Convention Center will not happen.
And, this year, many of us have had to change our holiday plans by not traveling or visiting loved ones. It’s all part of an effort to keep the most vulnerable among us safe. We all agree that not everyone reacts the same way to this virus. It impacts every person differently. That is what is so scary about this virus — the unknown.
Many who have it, do not know they have it. Those who have taken every measure possible to stay safe sometimes contract the virus anyway. And those who were strong one day, find themselves in the Intensive Care Unit the next.
We are all frustrated, but there is hope. We are all fatigued, but there is relief. If we as a community, as a state and as a nation, do what we are being asked and take the simple steps, then our slow recovery can speed up. We can make sure that our schools remain in session, that our athletes can continue their seasons and that our Class of 2021 can have a graduation shared with friends and family.
We are frustrated and fatigued, but what we cannot be is discouraged. We can do this. We will do this. And, in the end, we will retire this virus to where it belongs — the dustbin of history.
The Daily Journal on a Mississippi city's campaign to encourage compliance with coronavirus safety measures:
In last Tuesday’s column by Mayor Jason Shelton, he communicated that the Tupelo Economic Recovery Task Force is launching a campaign to encourage widespread compliance with the city and state masking ordinances as a show of responsible citizenship and community solidarity. We completely agree, and as we recently editorialized, we believe Gov. Reeves should reinstate the mask mandate statewide.
Mayor Shelton went on to explain that the primary message of the campaign will be to ‘Keep Tupelo Open,’ saying this “includes our churches, businesses, schools, health care system, and all other institutions and entities through which we experience a more normal and satisfying life.” We know the Mayor is not entertaining lockdowns, and we would never support them with the knowledge we have now after the experience this past spring.
Lockdowns were not wrong at that time, and the recommendation from the federal government to only wear a mask when caring for someone who was ill was not wrong at the time either. Our local, state and federal leadership was working with the best available data at the time.
We now know the devastation from the spring shutdown is still being felt economically by businesses, emotionally by our citizens, and physically by those that delayed other health care priorities not named COVID-19. The spring shutdown for some businesses luckily had federal dollars through the CARES Act that followed to help. A go it alone approach by any community at this time would have no financial help following a shutdown.
Last week, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator and former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator for President Obama, said, “our biggest threat for transmission is not the public square. It’s small family gatherings. Family gatherings where people become more comfortable. They remove their face mask, and they get together. And it’s this silent epidemic that begins to transmit. But it’s not intra-school transmission. The truth is, for kids K through 12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school.”
A study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, one of the most cited scientific journals, surveyed the effects of the coronavirus on small businesses. PNAS surveyed more than 5,800 small businesses between March 28 and April 4 and found the median small business with $10,000 in monthly expenses had about two weeks of cash on hand. This means most small businesses would have to have immediate layoffs of employees and most likely could not survive a closure that was long enough to have any kind of community effect on virus transmission, if any at all.
We support Mayor Shelton and the Tupelo Economic Recovery Task Force in campaigning to our community to wear masks, wash hands frequently and socially distance. We cannot ever support shutting down of our local businesses. We follow the words and advice from scientists advising President-elect Joe Biden who said as recently as last Friday, “I am not going to shut down the economy again.”