Dr. Wade Kartchner is the health director of the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District of the Virginia Department of Health.

Dr. Wade Kartchner, the health director of the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District of the Virginia Department of Health, spoke at a recent town hall about  the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some thoughts for the end of June, as we move into the seventh month of this pandemic. I would like to cite a quote from one of my early emails:

This indeed proved to be the case. We saw a large spike in cases in the health district. The communities responded and cases have subsided again. As you recall, the reason for the stay at home order was to “flatten the curve”, to ensure that hospitals and providers of health care were not overwhelmed with illness. We “put a lid” on the disease as we stayed away from one another. It stands to reason that if that lid is lifted, in the form of relaxed recommendations, then cases will rise again- particularly as we venture out more this summer and as school opens in the fall.

In my opinion, we cannot sustain, either economically or socially, another shutdown to achieve a goal of driving COVID-19 cases down as before. We are left with trying to do those things that will manage the spread of cases and keep the disease from those most vulnerable. This includes those physical distancing, masking, and staying home when sick recommendations that we continually talk about. Likewise we need to pay attention to our long term care facilities. The Virginia Department of Health and other agencies are working with these facilities to phase in their “normal” operations, while continuing to protect their residents.

My sense is that we are in this for the long haul, with ups and downs and twists and turns. I also believe that we will eventually return back to our previous normalcy, not to a "new normal' as so many have proffered. So try and help those around you understand the gravity of what needs to be done, but let’s do so in a manner that shows the “better angels of our nature” as citizens of this wonderful Commonwealth of Virginia.

-Wade Kartchner, MD, MPH

Health Director, Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District

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