Rome News-Tribune. May 1, 2021.

Editorial: It’s been a busy week

While the potential for the sale of a community staple — Redmond Regional Medical Center — was one of our biggest topics this week, there are several other items we’d like to address.

But let’s start with the hospital deal.

Floyd County has had two very profitable hospitals for as long as many of us can remember. They’ve been the heart and lifeblood of our community as other industries have come and gone. While they’re likely to be here for a long time still, this year will be a milestone.

The now iconic Floyd Medical Center green will soon become the teal of AtriumHealth at Floyd. It now appears there’s a potential that Redmond’s stylistic medical logo could be replaced with the AdventHealth blue and green.

There are so many implications with either of those topics that it’s hard to decide where to start.

It’s hard to say how the locally-owned and operated Harbin Clinic will weather the possibility of this storm. In the past few years it appeared Harbin was aligning with Redmond and its parent company HCA, but there’s now the potential that the company that contributes so much to this community could be caught between two massive nonproft medical conglomerates.

Local school systems could take a pretty heavy financial hit if Redmond’s property comes off the tax rolls.

The Floyd County school system is already struggling with the aftermath of Plant Hammond’s closure. The seemingly more fiscally stable Rome City Schools will take a sizable hit from the Redmond deal.

Bad timing

Transitioning into school policies, we feel that Superintendent Glenn White jumped the gun by removing the county school system’s mask requirement.

We know that everyone is tired of the pandemic; we’re tired of it too. It’s true that the number of new infections here, and statewide, is nearly at an all-time low. It’s amazing to be able to say that, but we’ve had lulls before that turned into incredible spikes.

The difference is that the vaccine is here and the supply is plentiful. But people are dipping into their social media misinformation stations yet again and coming up with ways to claim the vaccines are unsafe, etc. We know because we read our social media comments section.

Look, there are four weeks of school left this year. Compared with the last school year, this one has been an amazing improvement. Hopefully, next year will continue to be better and we’ll be in a place where this pandemic isn’t an issue any more.

Throwing caution to the wind a few weeks before school is over seems shortsighted.

Trailblazing

Congratulations to the city, county and TRED for ponying up to get funding for what is going to be a pretty popular trail connection back in the works.

That connection between the Mount Berry Trail and the paved trail on the west side of the Oostanaula River will complete the Redmond Trail Phase One project. All the trails have continued to increase in popularity and this connection, we think, will make them even more so.

Top that off with the potential of a loop connecting the other side of the Rome Braves stadium with the unfinished portion of the Mount Berry Trail — you’ve got a winner. Rome will then have over 14 miles of paved trails in the city without a real road crossing.

Hopefully, if any deal concerning Redmond comes to pass it won’t hamstring Redmond Trail Phase Two, which goes through Summerville Park and bisects the hospital property.

Politics anyone?

Democratic Party 14th District Congressional District hopeful Marcus Flowers appears to be pulling from Sen. Raphael Warnock’s playbook this week with a photo of his dog.

“Max is deaf, has three legs, and is 91 in dog years which makes him a great source of wisdom on the campaign trail,” a fundraising message sent out Monday stated.

Flowers, at this point, appears to be the lead Democratic contender in a district that hasn’t seen any serious competition from that party since Buddy Darden lost the seat in 1994.

Despite an impressive showing in contributions, we’re not convinced that the deep red 14th District is quite ready to go blue, or even purple. No Republicans have yet stepped up to challenge GOP Rep. Marjorie Greene.

That said, caricatures of our current representative continue to grace the stages of “Saturday Night Live” and the real Rep. Greene continues to be a vocal presence on social media. That presence has served her well in regards to fundraising, but we’re not as sure that it’s done anything good for the district.

Rep. Greene will be back in the 14th District in Polk County at a town hall meeting next Wednesday.

Of note

Two of the Between the Rivers most visible and historic properties are on the market. The Columns and Rose Hill — both brought back to their architectural glory by Wes Walraven — went on the market this spring.

The architecture in that area is some of the most beautiful and diverse you can find in Rome and we’d like to say it can hold its own with many Southern cities.

Speaking of the Old South, the city is experiencing continued controversy while seeking to resolve the permanent disposition of an old statue.

The Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest statue, like much of the history of the Civil War, has its place in the history books and should remain there.

We should heed the words and deeds of the past. British statesman Winston Churchill paraphrased Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana best when he wrote “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Thank you for reading.

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Dalton Daily Citizen-News. May 1, 2021.

Editorial: Take precautions to ensure children and hot cars don’t result in tragedy

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration held a press conference this week on how to prevent child deaths and injuries in hot cars, which is important to consider now that the weather locally is heating up.

The agency notes on its website that “children dying from heatstroke in cars, either because they were left or became trapped, has increased in recent years. In 2018 and 2019, a record 53 children died of vehicular heatstroke each year. In 2020, during the public health emergency, 24 children lost their lives in hot cars, and in 2021 one child has died.”

These are troubling statistics, as no parent or guardian wants to even consider the possibility of such a horrific outcome. The best way to avoid such calamity is to be prepared.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following tips:

• “Parents and caregivers, get in the habit of always looking inside your car before locking the doors. Remember: Park. Look. Lock. And always ask yourself, ‘Where’s Baby?‘”

• “Place a briefcase, purse or cellphone next to the child’s car seat so that you’ll always check the back seat before leaving the car.”

• “Keep a stuffed animal or another memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty. Move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.”

• “Set a rule for your child care provider; have them call you if your child doesn’t arrive as scheduled.”

The agency notes, “Vehicular heatstroke deaths don’t just happen when a child is forgotten. The second leading cause -- 26% -- of such deaths are children getting into unattended vehicles. Get in the habit of always locking your car doors and trunk, year-round. The temperature inside a car can reach over 115 degrees when the outside temperature is just 70 degrees.”

Additional tips:

• “Never let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area.”

• “Keep car keys out of a child’s reach.”

• “If a child is missing, quickly check all vehicles, including the trunk.”

• “Never leave a child alone in a parked car, even with the windows rolled down or the air conditioning on. A child’s body temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult’s.”

• “Always look in the front and back of the vehicle before locking the door and walking away.”

If you see a child alone in a vehicle:

• “Make sure the child is OK and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.”

• “If the child appears to be OK, attempt to locate the parents; if at a public place, have the facility page the car owner over an intercom system.”

• “If the child is not responsive and appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child -- even if that means breaking a window. Many states have ‘Good Samaritan’ laws that protect people from lawsuits for getting involved to help a person in an emergency.”

One such death is too many. Take these tips to heart, share them with friends and neighbors, and let’s keep our children safe this summer, and of course all year round.

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Valdosta Daily Times. May 2, 2021.

Editorial: Public health data crucial

Transparency is important in all sectors of government but nowhere more crucial than in the public health sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated just how important reliable, easily accessible information is to all of us.

The public has both a right and a need to know things such as infection rates, death rates, hospitalization numbers and overall impact of the pandemic globally, nationally, statewide and — most important — locally.

Only with timely, reliable information are we able to make the best decisions about our health and wellbeing.

In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, public health officials struggled with how much information to release and how quickly to release it. As time has gone on, the process for disclosing data has improved.

Locally, the South Heath District and South Georgia Medical Center have disclosed important COVID-19 data, including deaths, hospitalizations and infection rates, on an almost daily basis.

The newspaper has shared all of that information with the public in real time on the newspaper website as breaking news, on social media and in print editions.

Our analytics indicate those daily reports continue to be among the most read news reports on our digital platforms, highlighting the high level of public interest in public health data on the pandemic.

So, the timely release of this information by our hospital and health department is good news.

The bad news is that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, open records requests, especially at the state level, have been back logged, delayed by weeks and months.

At first, when government offices shutdown and staff had to learn how to work remotely, the delays in satisfying records requests were understandable and reasonable.

Now, however, it is time to stop using the public health crisis as a ruse to not disclose vital information to the press and the public.

In this edition of The Valdosta Daily Times, we take a look at nursing home inspections and the challenges that have been faced at many facilities across the nation.

Families have every right to be able to access inspection reports and data around all incidents occurring at a nursing home.

And, that kind of information is of little value if it is not released in a timely manner.

COVID-19 has impacted us all in many ways, but it must not be used as a ruse to permanently erode the public’s right to know.

END