In recent days, two Waldo County school districts and a church have identified members who have COVID-19; as this editorial is being written, the case count is around 42. The uptick in cases comes as a warning, even as residents of the county, along with those all over the nation and the world, are experiencing pandemic fatigue. The warning is clear: Do not let down your guard or abandon health and safety precautions.

Last Friday, Regional School Unit 71 announced that someone at Capt. Albert W. Stevens Elementary School in Belfast had tested positive. The district immediately started notifying the families of affected students, and identified which classrooms had potentially been exposed, as well as a bus route where exposure may have occurred.

The next day, RSU 71 Superintendent Mary Alice McLean announced that two more cases had been identified: one at Ames Elementary School in Searsmont and another at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast. Again, the district was transparent about who had probably been exposed and what action it would take.

Also on Saturday, the Maine Center for Disease Control broke the news that at least 17 people associated with Brooks Pentecostal Church and its school, Lighthouse Christian Academy, had tested positive for COVID-19. The CDC also noted that the church had held an outdoor fellowship rally Oct. 2-4 where some exposures may have taken place. By Monday the number of cases connected with the church was up to 32.

At mid-day Monday, McLean sent an email to parents in the district saying it appeared that the cases identified in the RSU 71 schools were linked to the Brooks outbreak.

That same day, RSU 3 Superintendent Charles Brown notified parents in his district that someone associated with Mount View Elementary School in Thorndike had tested positive for COVID-19.

We cannot know at this writing how many more will have had positive tests for the virus by the time this paper hits the street, how many more lives will have been upended, or how many people, though not sick themselves, will feel the virus' threat in a new, much more personal way.

All of this is to say: Now is not the time to relax restrictions and resume "normal" life. Even those who do not die from COVID-19 can have serious long-term effects from it, whether or not they ever show symptoms.

Our pre-pandemic life, to which we all long to return, is gone. Period. We must learn to live in this new world, and to do what responsible scientists have been counseling for months: Wear a mask in public. Wash your hands often. Keep your distance from other people. In this way, we will eventually contain the virus. And the day will come when this virus is not the threat it is today.