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Mar. 30—There is some good news these days about COVID-19.
Locally, cases and hospitalizations remain at low numbers. Joplin Health Department officials said during a media briefing on Monday that the city is averaging three new cases per day, down significantly from last fall.
And many places that have long been closed or restricted to the public are slowly reopening. Chief among them are nursing homes, which are beginning to loosen their policies by allowing visitors inside under certain circumstances.
It's easy to be excited about returning to normal. After a long year of the pandemic, we all want to host big family gatherings, go to a concert or sporting event, or travel without worrying about precautions such as social distancing or wearing masks.
But public health experts continue to urge caution lest we unleash a fourth COVID-19 wave.
Nationwide, virus cases are up about 10% over the past week from the previous week, to about 60,000 cases per day, with both hospitalizations and deaths ticking up as well, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Monday. She warned that without immediate action, the U.S. could follow European countries into another spike in cases and deaths.
Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, have appealed to elected officials, community leaders and everyday Americans to maintain social distancing measures and mask wearing.
"We are doing things prematurely," Fauci said, referring to moves to ease up on restrictions; Walensky said: "Just please hold on a little while longer."
We shouldn't let our guard down now. The light is there at the end of the tunnel, so let's keep our focus and stick with our safety measures to ensure that the virus doesn't get a fourth surge.