It’s the end of summer.

Well, not technically. But most regard Labor Day as the unofficial end to the season, as it’s the last three-day weekend before autumn officially begins Sept. 22.

Normally, we’d remind you of the common dangers and how we hope you’ll celebrate safely.

They’d include, in particular, our plea that you won’t drive drunk and endanger yourself and the public. That you are careful with any acrobatic stunts you may attempt to impress your friends.

But now we have a new issue: COVID-19.

Partying is a major reason, officials said, for the growth in many counties around the state as college kids return to campus. It’s been such a problem that bars were ordered closed in a handful of counties by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Wapello County was not one of those counties, but as local officials reminded the public on Thursday, we aren’t out of the woods yet.

For those that make the trip out: Be safe, wear a mask and social distance.

Wapello County and the other 98 counties in Iowa saw an uptick in cases after the Fourth of July holiday. We need to keep history from repeating itself.

Officials on Thursday also indicated local hospitals are facing strain due to positive cases causing nurses to miss work, depleting a workforce that’s long-faced staff shortages anyway. This lowers the capacity of our hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients, as well as the normal medical events that lead people to the hospital.

We all wish COVID-19 would end, but as Wapello County Emergency Management Director Tim Richmond said Thursday, pandemics don’t end in six months.

“If you look at pandemics through history, they’re not over in six months,” he said. “They take some time to get through. And I think the fast-paced nature of our society makes us a bit impatient.”

COVID-19 doesn’t end because you’re tired of it. The coronavirus pandemic will end when the virus runs its course or once a vaccine is found and makes its way around the population. Neither has happened yet.

While most fatalities are among those in more vulnerable populations like the elderly or immunocompromised, that isn’t a license for those other groups to disregard the virus altogether. Even if the virus doesn’t impact your health, you still can transmit it to others, some perhaps more susceptible to the most harmful effects.

And, as more and more become infected and isolate, and more and more have to quarantine because of contact, it jeopardizes our workforce across the local economy.

If everyone pulls together, we can find ways to live enjoyable lives until we are able to get back to normal.

So, if you’re heading out this Labor Day weekend, be safe and follow the guidelines. Drink responsibly by having a sober driver get you back home. Party and gather responsibly by masking up and keeping social distance as much as possible, and limiting those gatherings as much as you can.

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