It becomes harder to maintain diligence in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the pandemic drags on.

Wilkes Health Department Director Rachel Willard said this week that too many people locally have let their guards down, including by not wearing face coverings when it’s required.

This lack of concern about the welfare of others is often seen at local retail establishments and even among employees at some local restaurants.

You wear a mask more to protect those around you than yourself. Doing so isn’t a loss of personal rights; it’s an act of consideration of other people.

Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order mandating face coverings in indoor or outdoor public places when it’s not possible to stay at least six feet away from others not in your household or home.

Willard said community spread of COVID-19, which means contracting the virus from unknown sources, currently accounts for about 32% of Wilkes cases.

Local cases are still resulting from people vacationing in COVID-19 hot spots and a few are still coming from the outbreak at Westwood Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Wilkesboro.

Some are also resulting from household and workplace contacts.

The surge of COVID-19 cases on many North Carolina university campuses drew additional attention this week. Hundreds of new positive cases among students are being reported daily on some campuses.

It appears that decisions at some universities were driven more by financial than health concerns as the new academic year started.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said university officials should be doing more to hold students responsible for activities that promote spread of the coronavirus.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranked second and N.C. State University rank sixth among U.S. colleges and universities in COVID-19 cases.

As of Tuesday, UNC-CH had 835 cases and NCSU had 509. East Carolina University ranked 12th with 392.

As of Thursday, Appalachian State University had 210 cases.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday reported 2,091 new COVID-19 cases, up from 1,244 the day before.

It was the highest single-day case increase since July 30, when the total was 2,344.

Amid these and other concerning developments, the push continues to fully reopen everything and get students back in their classrooms.

Until a vaccine is developed, simple and temporary lifestyle changes that begin with wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing and washing your hands will do more than anything to restore normalcy.

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