The news broke in the wee hours of Friday morning and spread faster than a virus in Wuhan, China.

A bit before 1 a.m., President Trump tweeted that he and First Lady Melania had contracted the coronavirus: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”

As the nation, Georgia and Cobb County are seeing significant decline in the spread of COVID-19, the news serves as a resounding alarm that we are not out of the coronavirus woods.

Cobb’s coronavirus count has shown vast improvement over the last several weeks. Since the first week of August when 1,900 new cases were reported, the number has cascaded. In the last seven days, Cobb has tallied fewer than 400 cases — a 79% drop. Deaths show a similar plummet from 93 in the month of August to 36 in September to 11 in the last 14 days.

“We are very encouraged about the decline in both the 14-day case rate and the positivity rate in Cobb County over the past several weeks,” said Cobb-Douglas Public Health Deputy Director Lisa Crossman. “It appears that we did not experience the post-Labor Day spike that we saw over the previous summer holidays. All of these signs are extremely encouraging and we thank Cobb residents for all that they are doing to get ahead of this virus.”

But the health official cautioned people not to let down their guard.

As more children go back to school and as the temperatures drop and we enter the holidays, there is certainly the risk that these numbers could increase due to more inside gatherings that put people being closer together, the health department’s Crossman said.

“We’ve made so much progress this past month that we want to encourage residents to continue to follow the 3Ws so that we don’t backslide. Additionally, we encourage all residents to get their flu shot so that we reduce the risk of additional respiratory illness.”

Cobb had a total of 19,634 cases in the latest report with 1,764 hospitalizations and 427 deaths. Across the state there were more than 300,000 cases, 28,339 hospitalizations and 7,000 deaths. Trying to limit the spread of the virus, Gov. Brian Kemp last week issued a new executive order encouraging people to continue to observe the guidelines and limit gatherings.

Although quarantined, the president is expected to conduct official and political events from the residence. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Friday that the president is resting, with mild symptoms. Vice President Pence tested negative for the virus Friday morning. Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who spent 90 minutes on stage with Trump in their Tuesday debate, also tested negative. Trump and Biden did not shake hands during the debate but stood without masks about 10 feet apart.

The sudden turn of events put the brakes on Trump’s aggressive reelection campaign just a little more than a month before the Nov. 3 election. It drives home the importance of observing the guidelines for containing the spread of the virus.

For our nation, the decline in spread and the virus’ incursion into the White House sends a message: Efforts appear to be working to hinder the spread, but the virus remains highly contagious. You don’t know where or from whom you could contract the disease.

We can minimize the viral effects — before a vaccine is available — by following guidelines set out by health officials and repeated countless times: Very simply, Watch Your Distance, Wear Your Mask and Wash Your Hands.

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