Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
Valdosta Daily Times on getting tested for coronavirus following attendance at recent protests:
We encourage protesters to get tested for COVID-19.
Of course, we encourage anyone who has any symptoms or who may have been exposed to the virus to get tested.
Protests here have been peaceful.
While the groups have been small compared to the mass protests in major U.S. cities, the gatherings have been made up of groups of 10 or more who do not live in the same household.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over.
The rights of people to peaceably assemble for protest and to petition the government for a redress of grievances is fundamentally American and guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
The voices of protesters must be heard.
No one should deny their rights to gather, to march and to make strong statements.
While groups have every right to protest, they can still potentially be exposed to the coronavirus or expose others.
Remember, you do not have to be sick, or be showing symptoms, to be carrying — and spreading — the virus.
The COVID-19 test is quick, easy and free.
There are a few options for getting tested.
You do not have to meet any prequalifying conditions to receive a test from the health department.
The Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District is offering the free COVID-19 testing in Lowndes County, Monday through Saturday.
You do have to make an appointment, which is as simple as making a telephone call.
Once your appointment has been set, all you have to do is drive to the testing site at the health department location in downtown Valdosta and the very nice and helpful staff there will take care of the rest.
You do not even get out of your car.
A health care worker will come to the window of your vehicle, ask for your appointment number and name, retrieve your testing kit and return to the car for a quick nasal swab — no questions asked, no forms to fill out.
In seven to 10 business days, you will receive the results by telephone.
It is that quick and easy.
Now that the state, and the health department, has ramped up testing capacity, there are no long lines, no pre-test screening and no hoops to jump through.
To schedule an appointment for your test, just call the health department at (229) 333-5257 or the South Health District COVID-19 hotline at (844) 955-1499.
Whether you have been with a crowd at a protest or in other group settings where you might have been exposed and most certainly if you are experiencing any symptoms, please get tested.
COVID-19 is not over.
The Brunswick News on recent protests against police brutality taking place across the nation:
It has been an ugly few days across America. The murder of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands, or knees in this case, of a white Minneapolis police officer has led to nationwide protests. While most of those protests have been peaceful, some have turned violent.
The anger that is being expressed right now comes from a long history of how black people have been treated in America. It started hundreds of years ago when they were brought to the New World as slaves and were considered nothing more than property. A war had to be fought just to convince half of this nation — this so-called ‘Land of the Free’ — that it was wrong to own other people.
Even after the Civil War, laws were instituted to make sure that the rights of black people were legally suppressed. These Jim Crow laws continued to proliferate the idiotic ideal that whites were not only superior to blacks, but that the sides shouldn’t intermingle. It would take 100 years after the Civil War ended for reason and righteousness to reign supreme and do away with that backwards way of thinking.
We have come a long way since the 1960s.
Subsequent generations have come to realize, as they spend more time around each other, that we are all God’s children — that He created all of us in His image.
Even with as much progress as we have made as a society, the ghosts of our past still linger. When you see tragedies that shouldn’t have happened — like the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and the death of Ahmaud Arbery right here in our backyard — it brings hundreds of years of injustice back to the forefront.
That anger has led some down a path of violence and destruction as a way to express their dissatisfaction with the system. Even if the anger is justified, this method of protest will not help in the long run.
Overzealous police aren’t helping calm down the situation either, especially when they deliberately fire at journalists who are just doing their jobs by reporting on what is happening. As much as this weekend has been about the historical mistreatment of black people, it is also shined a light that we need better police practices across the board.
The only way we will all be truly equal is for all of us to treat each other like we would like to be treated. The Bible verses that make up the Golden Rule don’t mention any exceptions like race, political affiliation or sexual orientation. It simply commands that we treat others the way we would want to be treated.
If we treat each other with the love and compassion that we have been commanded to do so, this world will be a better place. Until then, this vicious cycle will just continue to repeat.
The August Chronicle on the recent space launch from U.S. soil:
By the time you read this, the scheduled launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 reusable rocket will be in the history books, regardless of the important event’s outcome.
It was the second attempt at a launch that would send astronauts into space from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011 — the year American mothballed its shuttle program. It represented another first — instead of a national government sending astronauts into space, it would be a private company.
Literally and figuratively, there will be a lot riding on these and other landmark launches.
Just about every aspect of life these days is being viewed — like it or not — through the lens of the coronavirus pandemic. That includes the moon and the stars.
The NASA astronauts assigned to the mission, headed for the International Space Station, had to perform parts of their vital training virtually, such as learning how to operate the station’s kitchen equipment. The more important training — executing spacewalks and operating the station’s high-tech toilets - were still conducted in person.
With no U.S. shuttles to transport astronauts, America has had to rely on Russia to make trips — using Soyuz rockets launched from Kazakhstan. Each mission cost about $75 million apiece.
Also what gave the launch such pressing relevance — being passed on to future launches — is NASA’s plan to rely on commercial companies to run the more routine missions of cargo and crew transport and leave the space agency to concentrate on the White House’s mission is to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 and later to Mars.
It’s a vastly different environment from when President John F. Kennedy delivered his “We choose to go to the moon” speech in 1962. The Trump administration correctly sees space as the next environment to establish American dominance not only commercially but militarily. Noe even some Democrats are rightly lauding the administration for placing space at a higher priority.
The snickering from Trump’s critics about his vision for a Space Force died down quickly after they learned that the U.S. not only needed such a service branch, we’re already behind Russia and China in that regard.
At this point, further venturing into space isn’t a bureaucratic whim or an option. It’s a crucial component for establishing a successful, victorious future for America.
The excitement has spread to our state, too. Georgia is maneuvering for its place in space with the planned development of a coastal commercial spaceport in Camden County, which borders Florida and already is home to Submarine Base Kings Bay.
If approved, the facility planned to sit on 12,000 acres would be one of just 12 sites across the country licensed to launch privately-owned rockets.
Imagine the incredible economic boost for southeast Georgia. The area could flourish in the same way that cyber is transforming the Augusta area’s economic landscape.
Aerospace businesses and organizations would soon appear in Camden County’s orbit. Actually it’s already happening. The county entered into a memorandum of understanding earlier this month with a company interested in establishing a training facility for commercial astronauts.
It would also keep Georgia Tech’s graduating aerospace engineers in our state instead of allowing them to blast off to other locations - taking their skills and their substantial earning power with them.
Camden County’s once-big plans have been scaled back. Originally officials envisioned a spaceport equipped to accommodate larger rockets such as the Falcon 9. The new focus, announced last December, is on smaller rockets, built for satellite payloads. Instead of launching and returning, those rockets would burn up in the planet’s atmosphere.
It was a last-minute change, just two days before the Federal Aviation Administration’s deadline to approve the facility’s operating license. Because of the change in the project’s design, the wait for a license got even longer.
This month the FAA revised its review schedule for the spaceport to accommodate more public input and revise an environmental impact study. The FAA’s new estimated date for spaceport approval is now October 2021.
COVID-19 still is providing more than enough to worry enough and overcome on Earth, but it’s encouraging to see that it’s not preventing our state and our nation from gazing optimistically sat the stars.