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An introduction / August 18, 2021

The Mecklenburg Sun is kicking off our annual subscription campaign with our Aug. 18 mass mailing, which is our way of introducing new and not-so-new readers to the work that we do, day in and day out.

In the pages of our print edition and online, you’ll see what The Sun has to offer — and we hope you’ll like it! But let’s be honest: a lot of what the news offers these days isn’t exactly a barrel of monkeys, try as we might to leaven the atmosphere with the upbeat stories that merit attention just as much as grim tidings in the headlines.

As we all know, the past few years have brought their share of depressing news. No getting around that. And we don’t attempt to do so. If that’s not your bag — understandably so — then there's much else to enjoy in our print edition, such as comics, crosswords, slice-of-life coverage of the community and our money-saving coupons inside.

If you’re still with me, today’s column will be a little different than usual.

The norm in this space is your humble scribe’s weekly takes on the news — local, state, national and international. Over the past few issues, that has meant returning to a subject that all of us would just as soon leave behind: COVID-19.

As regular readers may know (and as first-time readers probably will not), our latest columns have honed in on recent remarks by state Sen. Frank Ruff (R-Clarksville) questioning the value of getting vaccinated. Sample line from Ruff’s constituent column two weeks ago: “If I am a younger, healthy person, what value is inoculation to me?”

One consequence of covering the news regarding COVID-19 is that a reporter is exposed, in a real albeit second-hand sense, to the profound grief and loss that has accompanied this horrible disease. Any assistance that people in positions of authority and leadership can provide to get us through these dark times is quite welcome; bad-faith questions aimed at undermining faith in vaccination is not.

But rather than go on a rant, let’s let the facts speak for themselves. Here are links to two articles which I wrote this week for our sister newspaper in South Boston, the News & Record. The stories are from one county over to the west, but the subject matter is relevant in Mecklenburg and everywhere else.

In contrast to what we’re seeing from our local politicians, the medical staff at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital in South Boston made a point of reaching out last week to explain to the public the urgent need to get vaccinated. (VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill has made equally ardent efforts to promote vaccination, to the point of making the difficult but necessary decision to mandate the shots for its workforce.) Sentara HRH chief medical officer Dr. James Priest (that’s Jimmy to everyone who knows him) is arguably the most respected person in Halifax County: an upstanding Christian, a fervent supporter of youth sports, storyteller supreme, and all-around great guy. Dr. Priest also suffers from an auto-immune disorder, yet says he did not hesitate to get vaccinated. You can read his thoughts from our story in the Aug. 12 edition of the N&R.

I also reported over the weekend the unbearably sad news of the deaths, within hours of each other, of a Scottsburg couple who contracted the virus. (Scottsburg, located in the northeast corner of Halifax County, is not far from Chase City.) The deceased were 36 and 37 years of age. To Frank Ruff’s question — “If I am a younger, healthy person, what value is inoculation to me?” — it’s extremely unfortunate that the answer sometimes must be so painful in coming.

So, like I said, here’s something different this week in this space: Just the facts. Which, outside of our editorial page, is what we do every week in The Sun. And yes, with that, we’d be thrilled to have you as a regular subscriber to The Mecklenburg Sun and our sister newspaper in South Boston, the News & Record. But if that doesn’t happen, please: Go get vaccinated!

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