We share the Brushy Mountain Ruritan Club’s “deep regret” over having to cancel the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival for the second year in a row due to COVID-19, especially considering that clearly it didn’t have to turn out this way.

The 2021 apple festival in downtown North Wilkesboro was canceled because of the continuing deadly surge of the delta variant of COVID-19 in Wilkes County and the area. Sadly, this latest disruption of life in Wilkes as we know it could have been avoided if more residents of Wilkes and the area had simply gotten vaccinated.

Organizers of MerleFest are wrestling with the same health concerns, but fortunately are able to closely control admission to that event on the Wilkes Community College campus. They’re able to require that everyone attending be vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 within the last 72 hours, plus more easily implement other safeguards.

With the apple festival sprawling across downtown North Wilkesboro, it has no gates and therefore limiting admission is impossible. When the 2020 Brushy Mountain Apple Festival was canceled a year ago, few (if any) people imagined that the same fate would befall the 2021 event.

But who would have thought so many people would have rejected a lifesaving vaccine, trusting what they saw on social media or local hearsay instead of the science-based advice of medical professionals.

This groundswell of misinformation combined with resentment of “being told what to do” has had far worse consequences than cancelation of events like the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival.As of Tuesday, the virus had claimed the lives of 148 Wilkes County residents. About 30 of those people died in August and September.

These are the “confirmed” deaths tied to COVID-19. Judging by the increased number of obituaries and in deaths recorded at the Wilkes Register of Deeds office, it’s a sure bet that the number of Wilkes deaths due to COVID-19 far exceeds the official tally.

Plus, there are many people who survived but apparently will have long-term health problems and possibly shorter lives due to the virus.Lack of broad acceptance of vaccination for COVID-19 will allow the virus to continue developing into increasingly worse variants with more severe consequences.

Will we be in an even worse situation next year at this time?

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