Over recent years, journalism has been criticized by some — including the editor of this newspaper — for lacking nuance. So many situations are portrayed as stark black-and-white contrasts when real life is always drawn in shades of gray.
The problem with nuance is it’s so easy to mis-read, especially if one is expecting the stark contrast that is so common in news articles.
The Observer was recently caught by its own sense of nuance, leading some of our readers to believe something that is not true: that cases of COVID-19 are declining in Colquitt County.
In truth, the number of new cases of COVID-19 is rising here.
What we pointed out Jan. 6 in both a front page story and an editorial is that the number of new cases is rising slower here than elsewhere.
The state Department of Public Health’s website at https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report provides a graphic that shows the number of new cases reported each day since March 1. It’s updated daily. The interactive graphic defaults to the state numbers when first opened, but it can be adjusted to show each county’s numbers. The state graphic shows a low point around Oct. 1 with a seven-day average of about 1,200 new cases a day. The graph climbs slowly, takes a small dip, then spikes starting Dec. 1 with about 7,400 new cases per day by Jan. 16. Those numbers represent a crisis that is particularly acute in the Metro Atlanta area but also bad in many other parts of the state.
By contrast, Colquitt County’s seven-day average was in decline until Dec. 1, when it also spiked, but it quickly dropped then spiked again — but both of those spikes were far less than what the state saw at the same time and far less than what Colquitt County saw during the summer. The county’s highest one-day total since July was 33 new cases reported Jan. 6. That is certainly worse than we’d like to see, but it is not a crisis.
Similarly, COVID deaths across the state are skyrocketing, starting about Jan. 1. The seven-day average is currently more than 100 deaths per day. But Colquitt County saw only three deaths in December and two more so far in January.
The coronavirus is not on the decline. If we’ve said anything to make you think it is, we apologize. Cases are rising in Colquitt County. All we’re saying is that the crisis you see in national news reports of overburdened hospitals is not playing out here.
To continue to help your neighbors and yourself to stay safe, we urge you to:
• Avoid large gatherings.
• Wear a face mask.
• Stay 6 feet from other people when in public.
• Wash your hands.
• Follow other directions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With vigilance we can continue to keep our numbers low and not approach the severe problems that communities elsewhere are experiencing.